Month: June 2013
Despite Apple’s best and latest attempts to rejuvenate its software, and for all it’s glitz and glamour, I don’t believe that iOS 7 will change the current balance of power. My views: because it fails to address key issues which separate Apple and Android.
I know some people will argue that Apple isn’t interested in the same markets as Android, and that it’s not the company’s goal to try and please everyone, which is fair enough. But my rebuttal is that the technology industry is geting brutal day by day; it’s survival of the fittest, and those who don’t adapt will fall by the wayside.
Lets find out why Android is killing Apple………….
1 – Hardware diversity
The most obivous reason for Android’s more recent dominance in the mobile market is because the operating system is simply available to a larger number of people. Apple’s relatively high price point for its products keeps them out of reach of many consumers, especially when it comes to emerging markets. Whilst Apple is maintaining a strong market share in some of the world’s top economies, the US, Japan, Europe, etc, it’s lagging significantly behind other manufactures in other emerging markets.
Android, on the other hand, has a range of manufacturers producing a range of products. Without a central company dictating when new top of the line phones are released, Samsung, HTC, Sony, etc, are available to offer the very highest spec products as soon as new technologies become available, offering the best top of the line devices to consumers. We’ve seen over the course of just three months, faster and more powerful smartphones than ever before, whilst Apple is still stuck on last generation hardware technologies.
At the other end of the spectrum, the same companies are free to design smartphones and tablets which meet more budget price ranges, whilst still providing consumers with a decent smartphone experience thanks to the Android OS. This is proving to be a particularly strong business idea in emerging markets.
Now, whilst Apple may not be interested in lowering its price to meet the needs of these markets right now, today’s emerging markets are tomorrow’s wealthy economies. By ignoring consumers at this early stage, Apple risks facing an uphill battle against a more established brand, Android for example, if it decides to try and sell products in these markets in the future.
But it’s not just a problem with the price; Apple’s product line-up is also extremely limited for even high-end purchasers. Currently you’re stuck with a choice of just one size and spec of phone, which whilst easy for Apple to maintain, means that consumers can’t opt for a larger screen size, additional storage, or whatever other features they might prefer to have attached to their handset or tablet.
Take the Galaxy Note series of smartphones for example, they’ve proved to be extremely popular as they offer customers a unique experience which can’t be had with traditional 5 inch or smaller smartphones. Sony and HTC, amongst other companies, are eager to catch-up in the market space, but Apple’s stubbornness to keep its product portfolio small is restricting its ability to meet real consumer demand.
Similarly, smaller tablets are another prime example of Apple’s inflexibility. I’m sure we all remember Apple dismissing 7 inch tablets as too small to be useful, and then laughed wholeheartedly when the company announced the iPad Mini. Apple’s problem is that is seems to think that it can best dictate what consumers want, whereas Android lets the market decide, and recently this approach has worked very well in Android’s favour.
2 – Competition and innovation
But it’s not just a battle between Google and Apple, each manufacturer utilizing the Android operating system is in direct competition with everyone else, which had led to a much faster pace in innovation. There’s a distinct advantage in offering consumers something which they can’t get anywhere else — look at the recent top of the line Samsung and HTC products, the Galaxy S4 and the One, for example.
Now whilst you might love or hate TouchWiz or Sense, there’s no denying that both of the company’s have invested a lot of resources in improving their own handsets above and beyond the basic Android experience, in order to stand out above the competition. Consider the massive range of additional software piled in with the Galaxy S4: exercise tracking software, better multitasking functionality, and additional camera settings, amongst plenty of other things. HTC, on the other hand, has invested heavily in its BoomSound system, Sense 5, and BlinkFeed, which offers consumers a different experience to Samsung’s.
But this doesn’t just apply to software; the HTC One aimed to provide a top quality audio experience above that of Samsung’s, whereas Samsung attempted to win over some consumers with the faster Exynos 5 Octa processor. Similarly, Sony’s Xperia Z boasts extra features such as waterproofing and improved scratch resistance, something which Samsung has since copied with the Galaxy S4 Active after identifying that it was a great idea that consumers wanted.
Furthermore, the next line-up of smartphones are already gearing up to take advantage of faster processing technologies, like the Snapdragon 800, in order to place themselves ahead of the current crop of smartphones, which is possibly why we’ve been hearing rumors of a beefed up Galaxy S4 as well. It’s a constant battle to offer the best products, which is a massive win for consumers.
This level of internal competition doesn’t exist with Apple products, and it shows when you look at the much slower rate of progress taking place with the iPhone
3 – Open source, free market system
You’ve probably noticed that a lot of Android’s strength stem from its open nature, which allows third parties to do what they want with the platform in order to offer consumers products which they would like to use. This has seen Android leap ahead of iOS in recent years, and has helped the platform capture larger and larger shares of the smartphone and tablet markets, but it’s also spun off a range of entirely new products.
Android has already broken into the gaming space, in a way which Apple hasn’t even started to think about, thanks to Kickstarter projects like Gamestick and OUYA, and even projects funded by big companies like Nvidia. Nvidia Shield is an excellent example of a company utilizing Android in a fairly unique way, offering a handheld gaming platform with all the functionality of a full operating system. Apple certainly isn’t doing any of this, which again is going to introduce more and more consumers to the Android ecosystem whilst Apple remains stuck with its current clientele.
No Apple products here…
There have also been a whole range of other Android powered products which have appeared thanks to innovative third party companies. Plenty of manufacturers are now offering mini Android PCs, often in the form of a USB stick sized device, which bring computing into your living room for around $50 or less. There’s a range of Android TV products as well, which give users access to a range of media options in the living room.
We haven’t even talked about software yet, but now’s a good a time as any. Of course, Apple fans will likely say that the Google Play Store is full of rubbish apps and that the App Store takes in a lot more money, which is true, to some extent at least anyway. But firstly, the amount of money the store makes isn’t necessarily in the best interest of consumers. Android has plenty of cheap or free apps which are great, so the money issue is just a silly one.
As far as app quality goes, it’s certainly true that there are some poor quality apps on the Play Store, but it doesn’t usually take long for these to be exposed and weeded out. The rating system certainly does its job, and most of the regularly downloaded apps in the Google Store are as good as anything found in Apple’s store. In fact, the ease in which apps and software can be uploaded to the Play Store is one of Android’s strengths, as it allows developers to easily and quickly respond to consumer demand, rather than having to wait eons for authorisation from Apple.
4 – Strong developer community
This brings us neatly onto the next point, a strong and ever growing developer community.
We all know that there are a variety of custom ROMs for a start, each offering unique features, porting the default Android experience to handset which would otherwise go without, and some aiming to improve system performance. ROMs like CyanogenMod have proven hugely popular because of their punctual updates for handsets which otherwise would go without the latest versions of Android, and others like Paranoid Android are intent on innovating on the default Android experience.
Take your pick. If you don’t like your current version of Android, there are plenty of other custom ROMs available to suit your needs.
Some community driven developments, like notification features for example, have even gone on to be incorporated into official versions of Android. With more minds working on the same problem, you’re far more likely to achieve superior results than deciding everything with a select group of individuals behind closed doors.
Another example is the custom MIUI ROM, which has proven so popular that handsets pre-installed with the ROM sold out almost as soon as they were announced. Thousands of consumers with products that they want spawned from a third party developer, bringing even more consumers into the Android fold without Google having to lift a finger.
ANDROID ATTRACTS INNOVATION FROM BOTH HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS
But it’s not just customs ROMs which are helping to drive Android’s popularity. We’ve already discussed the wide range of apps available, but developers are also more than happy to work on free projects to address the needs of certain parts of the Android community.
Samsung users will probably remember the Exynos processor root exploit which was plaguing various Galaxy handsets a few months back. The problem was initially addressed and patched by members of the development community well before Samsung put out their own updates. Whilst this issue isn’t particularly a selling point for Android itself, having a development community which can access the platform so easily has a huge number of benefits above Apple’s closed platform.
Similarly, look at the new privacy tools in development by the creator of CyanogenMod. In the light of the recent NSA data collecting scandal he saw a need for greater privacy and was able to immediately begin working on addressing people’s concerns, without having to wait for an official update, if one would ever come. I love that community members can so easily be creative with the platform, and whilst it certainly won’t be a major selling point for everyone, developers are what keep the platform moving forwards, it’s another huge benefit to innovation for Android compared with iOS.
But the developer community doesn’t just benefit those who are looking to mess about with the serious stuff under the hood, there are a vast variety of more simply tweaks which most users can take advantage of. Themes are an excellent example of user created content which is easily installed on most Android devices, there are thousands of custom icon packs too, and a plethora of different launchers which help users tweak their Android experience to exactly how they like it. Android works great out of the box, but unlike Apple, Google allows us to tinker away in whatever manner we see fit, to tailor the experience to exactly what we want, and that’s a big selling point for a lot of consumers.
5 – The Google ethos
Many of the reasons Android is doing so well listed above don’t really have anything to do with Google, but that isn’t to say that the company isn’t pulling its weight. Google has created a range of free applications which improve the users experience over the default operating system, and it’s constantly trying out new ideas and scrapping old ones which don’t work.
Google’s commitment to big data also gives the company a large edge over its competitors. Over the past decade Google has undertaken a huge number of projects aimed at giving users better access to the huge amounts of information stored on the web, ranging from obvious applications like Maps, to optimizations and improvements with its search engine. Google Now is an excellent example of Google’s innovation in this space, pulling information from a much larger set of data specifically for a user when they need it.
Need something done? Google has you covered.
I suppose that this can best be summed up by Google’s willingness to experiment with various aspects of its ecosystem. Google Glass is a prime example of an idea which could well flop, but even so, the company is willing to invest time and money to see if it works. It’s this approach which has given the company a massive edge over its competitors, like Apple and Microsoft, when it comes to being on the cutting edge of web technologies. Android, as one of Google’s main projects, reaps the benefits of the company’s experimentation and innovation.
Looking at the situation in reverse, it’s hard to pinpoint anything interesting or experimental that Apple has done in recent years. The company is totally starved for unique projects by comparison, and does nothing to encourage or inspire third party development of its platform either. This can be seen in Apple’s recently rather uninspired unveiling of iOS 7, which in many ways is simply playing catch-up to Android.
To be fair, iOS 7 certainly has its good points but it’s simply not as a creative or innovative platform as Android, for all of the reasons mentioned above. Android attracts innovation from both hardware and software developers, which, in my opinion, is the main reason why our favourite mobile operating system is killing Apple.
A new Wall Street Journal report says that Google is working on a bunch of new Android devices, “as the Internet company seeks to spread the software’s domination beyond smartphones and tablets,” and prove itself as a hardware maker.
These new devices include an Android console, a smartwatch and a new Nexus Q media device, at least according to unnamed people that are familiar with the matter.
Apparently one of the reasons behind creating an Android console and smartwatch is to have such products ready to compete against similar products that Apple may release in the future. The iPhone maker is rumored to work on a smartwatch of its own and “launch a videogame console as part of its next Apple TV product release.”
In addition to making sure it has competing products for potential Apple products, Google is also said to have been keeping tabs on Ouya, a company that has been getting a lot of attention ever since raising funds to build its $99.99 Android-based console – a product that has just started selling. Rumours are that Samsung is also working on bringing a gaming console. Interesting to see how these consoles stack up against recently launches Xbox One and Playstation 4.
Details regarding the product are very less, although we will remind you that we got wind of such plans just ahead of Google I/O 2013. Moreover, newly discovered patent applications show how Google envisions such a product.
The WSJ now says that Google’s smartwatch – a name for the product has not been given apparently – will connect to smartphones via Bluetooth. Of course, that’s what’s expected from a smartwatch – to connect to other devices, particularly mobile ones. Well in this matter also Samsung is not staying behing and is preparing his own smartwatch.
We would assume the device would run Android, just like Google Glass, and offer various smart features, just like other similar products.
The new Nexus Q
Though the first Nexus Q was a not a hit but Google is working on next generation Nexus Q for reasons unknown.
Not many details about the device are known at the time, but the people in the know say the device, destined to help Google sell more movies and music, will be “much less expensive.” The original Nexus Q had a retail price of $299, but, again, it was not a success.
In addition to these three particular products, Google is also reportedly working on its own “low-cost Android smartphones” for developing markets (the Motorola DFX by any chance?), and the company is ready to let its partners use Android to power other devices than smartphones and tablets.
The first such products that come to mind are Android laptops (and desktops), which should be available later this year – we have already seen a dual-booting Android/Windows convertible laptop get official and an Android-powered all-in-one. The WSJ specifically mentions HP working on Android-powered laptops running “the next version of the software,” but there certainly are other OEMs in the PC industry that will embrace Android.
Home appliances are also listed among future devices that will come with Android pre-loaded, although we’re going to have to wait and see what that means.
Home appliances working on android ??? Who wants such devices ???
Interestingly, the WSJ story doesn’t mention new Nexus devices – well, not counting the Nexus Q, the new Nexus 7 or Nexus 5 aren’t referred to in the story.
After biding it’s time in emerging markets, free messaging app Nimbuzz has ben ratcheting up the news and partnerships lately. It’s hit 150m users globally, is strong in Asia, India and Saudi Arabia, has been adding new apps for platforms like Windows 8, and signing telco deals.
Bots called Chat Buddies are used here. There are Weather bot apps, or you can chat with a horoscope app that behaves rather like a text-based Siri. Independent developers have added ‘chat games’ like Hangman or an app called “Stranger Buddy” which is like Chat Roulette in text form. Brands are gradually realising this is a very clever way to interact with users, especially in emerging markets. These chat apps are hugely popular in regions where text messaging works and where data is expensive.
Now Nokia has developed its own Chat Buddy called Nokia Lucky Sunday. From tomorrow this will appear as a contact on the roster of all Nimbuzz users in India and start to quiz users and reward them with prizes. That’s over 25 million users, or a quarter of the entire mobile Internet population of the country.
With every correct answer, the user moves a leaderboard and the top users stand a chance to win Nokia smartphones at the end of every Sunday. Vikas Saxena, CEO, Nimbuzz, says the move “is a translation of the belief that brands have in our platform.”
Nimbuzz is available on all major platforms such as BlackBerry 10, Android, iOS, Symbian, Windows Phone, and J2ME, as well as Windows and Mac computers. It’s pre-loaded onto all local OEM handsets in India apart from Nokia, Samsung, LG.
A leaked picture shows off what is supposedly the plastic shell for the low-cost version of the Apple iPhone. The shell is green and is similar in color to one of the plastic rubber bumpers that is available for the iPhone. The leak comes from a gentleman who has connections to some of the factory workers in China. There is a single circle for the flash to the right of the round opening for the lens, and a small hole for a microphone in between.
Apple is expected to offer various colors options for the low-cost model with green, yellow, blue, pink and white expected to be available. Besides using a plastic body, the “budget” iPhone should have a less powerful processor, less impressive camera, 3G connectivity and 8GB of storage.
The low-cost Apple iPhone is expected to be launched later this year in emerging markets like Africa, China and India, priced at $329 off-contract.
6 years ago today, the iPhone first landed on store shelves in the U.S. and since then the growth has been phenomenal.The original generation of the device carried specs that certainly wouldn’t live up to today’s models. The 3.5 inch screen offered resolution of 320 x 480, and a pixel density of 165ppi, a far cry from today’s Retina display. A single core 412Mhz processor powered the device which also contained 128MB of RAM and a 2MP rear facing shooter. The original device didn’t sell anywhere near as well as later devices, it was the one phone that tranformed the smartphone landscape for ever. Its intuitive operating system, ergonomic and classy design and feature list were impressive. Sure, a lot of features were left out of that first model, including 3G connectivity, GPS, MMS and a flash for the camera. Speaking of the camera, that early snapper did not have autofocus.
It’s growth over the last 6 years has seemed slow at times, but I think we can all agree that between the original iPhone and the iPhone 5, Apple’s done a great job of gradually refining every aspect of the device.
Just few days back we told you that Samsung is using both AMOLED and LCD panels with the one used on each unit depending on the market it is offered in. A published report on Friday says that the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 with a flexible display will start production in August and launch in September, possibly during the IFA 2013 show in Berlin.
According to the report, Samsung decided to go with the flexible display for the Samsung Galaxy Note III after demand started fading for the Samsung Galaxy S4. Additionally, reports that LG is close to releasing a phone with a flexible display might have given Samsung the incentive to use a flexible panel for the next generation of its phablet.
There have been numerous rumors of a tie-up between Apple and the Taiwan based silicon slinger TSMC. According to the Wall Street Journal, the oft-rumored deal between Apple and TSMC has been signed. With the Cupertino based Apple looking to source its chips from another source instead of rival Samsung,
According to the latest information, it appears that both sides had wanted to pull the trigger on this deal much earlier, but at the time TSMC could not produce chips with the power and speed required by Apple. The deal that both parties agreed to will not take effect until next year which means that at least for one more cycle, Apple’s new mobile devices will be powered by arch rival Samsung. Apple still sources some of its components from the Korean manufacturer, but has turned to firms such as Toshiba for flash memory, and LG Display, Japan Display and Sharp for panels.
TSMC started talking with Apple as early as 2010 about supplying the company with chips, but company CEO Morris Chang turned down Apple’s request to have manufacturing space set aside for it and also rejected Apple’s offer to make an investment in the project.
But this chips won’t be available to Apple until next year leaving Apple no choice but to stick with Samsung for the remainder of 2013.