The battle to dominate the mobile market has never been about smartphones. Android, iOS, and Windows Phone are attempts to use the most personal computers ever made to lock users into one ecosystem. Google is using Android, an open ecosystem, to lock users into Google apps and services.
When you’re on top, there’s little reason to innovate. Based on the latest numbers, Samsung gained 26% of operating profits so far this year. Some have gone so far as to say that the only real competition between smartphone manufacturers is between Samsung and Apple.
Yesterday Samsung revealed the Galaxy S III, the latest version of the very popular Galaxy line of phones. While the Galaxy S and Galaxy S II have been major devices for the past two years (hence Google’s continued partnership with Samsung on the Nexus line of phones), the Galaxy S III looks like a me too device that doesn’t stand out on its own. Personally, I wasn’t impressed with the Galaxy S II, but I think the Galaxy S III is a joke compared to the competition. (more…)
Lately Business Insider (BI) has been announcing the imminent death of Android based on iPhone and iPad sales, reported disinterest in the platform by developers, and upset manufacturers. According to a handful of their writers, Android is poised to lose market share to both iOS and Windows Phone. Is the end near for Android?
While most of us hate the litany of lawsuits that have become commonplace in the tech industry, one positive result has been revelations from emails, recorded transcripts, and testimonies that would have undoubtedly remained under wraps. Without the Skyhook lawsuit we wouldn’t have nearly as many details about the Android device approval process. Apple and Samsung’s lawsuit pressured Apple to reveal that despite Steve Jobs’ nuclear reaction to Android as a product, he was willing to offer a licensing deal to Samsung (probably because Samsung provides so many parts for Apple).
Like the legal battles that preceded it, the Google/Oracle lawsuit has revealed more details about both companies. For example, apparently Oracle considered entering the smartphone race by buying RIM or Palm. The more troubling revelation to come out of this lawsuit came from none other than Google’s CEO, Larry Page: “I believe Android was very important for Google. I wouldn’t say it was critical.”
Since the iPhone, many manufacturers have tried to mimic Apple’s design by releasing black slab after black slab. Some phones in particular, like the HTC Droid Incredible, were more similar to Apple’s design than others. Most manufacturers have made little to no effort to make their phones stand out with hardware (with the exception of strange gimmicks like the Continuum’s second screen), instead opting to differentiate with software. While some manufacturers seem to believe the only way to differentiate and get noticed is through software customizations, other manufacturers like Nokia have tried to pursue differentiation through hardware. I believe that hardware can make much more of a difference in connecting consumers to their devices than software can.
You hear a chime, see a pop up notification, and feel a buzz. Someone just sent you an email and your phone, computer, and tablet are notifying you. Despite all of our technology, notifications continue to oppress the senses of those who use multiple devices. Sure, it’s great that something like an email will disappear from your notifications once it has been read (thank you, ActiveSync), but that doesn’t stop things like chat notifications or calendar alerts.
To make matters worse, most of the innovation we’ve seen in notifications has been to make notifications more accessible, not devices more aware of the user. We’ve seen devices like the TouchPad and the Pre3 (may they rest in peace) promise to push notifications to each other, but at the end of the day notifications still appeared on both devices. At some point, clearing notifications becomes a new chore, making users feel like their devices are actually hindering them from getting things done. (more…)
In 1997 two college kids started a company based on a pet project of theirs. Larry Page and Sergey Brin had worked together to create a search engine that bested every other competitor in every conceivable way. Their goal was simple: Help regular humans find things easily on the Internet.
As Google began to make money through its innovative advertising system, it began to acquire companies and develop solutions outside of search. Brin and Page, joined by CEO Eric Schmidt, had a vision of the world becoming a better place. Their naive company motto was “Don’t be evil.” (more…)
Recently Andy Rubin said that Google is going to double down on tablets in 2012. While Rubin failed to elaborate on what he meant by double down, we can only assume that Rubin recognizes the truth: Android tablets have failed in the market. According to Google’s own numbers there are 12 million Android tablets in the market to date, versus Apple selling 3 million iPads over the launch weekend of the new iPad.
The reasons for Android’s failure (compared to Apple) in the tablet space is twofold: operating system and applications. I’ve written about this before, but I’ll say it again: Android is a mess on tablets. It is definitely faster on Ice Cream Sandwich compared to Honeycomb, but that doesn’t change the fact that the whole homescreen UI is jumbled and fragmented. Having the app drawer, search, navigation, and notifications/quick settings in four different corners is much less accessible than it could be. Sure, a tablet offers more real estate than a phone, but that doesn’t mean that the UI should be spread all over the screen. (more…)