Posts Tagged ‘Google’
Over this past weekend the story broke that Google has developed a new phone that it is giving its employees to play. The Nexus One, as it is called, is being positioned as a “innovations lab”, according to Google.
Today, we hear that Google is in serious talks with T-Mobile to introduce Nexus One. This G-Phone is built by HTC and looks strikingly like the HTC Passion without, of course, the HTC logo. All this makes me wonder what Google is thinking?
First off, why does Google see the need to branch out into hardware. Imitating Apple in trying to control the complete user experience is not good enough reason as they are already late to that party having already open-sourced their operating system. If they have some legitimate reason for getting into hardware, starting out with a look-alike phone of a publicly available (or soon to be) phone is not the best strategy to launch a new product that is going to bear your name in such a competitive market.
Also, if Google is going to compete with its Android partners, I wonder how long they will tolerate that. Now, I truly believe that 2010 will be the year of Android, however, this is a fast moving market and both consumers and the hardware makers are fickle. Google will have to tread carefully so as not to antagonize its partners.
Finally, is Google ready to be a hardware company? So far they have been outsourcing the actual manufacturing of the phones. And it will work if they have a handful of devices. But, then they need to think of all the other things that goes with standing behind the hardware from support to logistics to marketing.
As 2009 comes to close, everyone is playing the predictions game, including me. So, here are my predictions for the new year.
1. 2010 is going to be the year that Android comes into its own. There is a lot of device movement behind it and we shall see a true iPhone challenger coming from the Android camp. Every major device manufacturer that is part of the Open Handset Alliance is going to come out with dozens of Android handsets. Also, we will see Android being deployed on devices other than Smartphones. Though it remains to be seen how Google positions Android versus its Chrome OS.
2. Android Marketplace is going to be next big goldrush for the app developers. The legions of Java developers are salivating at and furiously developing apps for the Android marketplace. Given Google’s free-for-all approach to the marketplace, I think that apps for Android are going to explode in 2010 and probably surpass the iPhone app store by 2011 unless Apple makes a drastic change to its App approval policy.
3. 2010 will see the introduction of data bandwidth caps and tiered pricing. As I mentioned in my post yesterday, AT&T is already making noise about how 3% of its data users are hogging 40% of the bandwidth. I believe that AT&T is getting ready to introduce data bandwidth caps and tiered pricing as early as Q1 of 2010.
4. Microsoft will make a major push to regain marketshare in 2010. Microsoft is at crossroads here, should it pursue a closed-wall approach like Apple or should it follow Google’s path. This is a long-shot prediction but I think Microsoft might end up acquiring a major player to disrupt the iPhone and Android hegemony. Though RIM, Palm and to a small degree, Motorola are likely targets, but I would not be surprised if Nokia and Microsoft partner up to develop or extend Windows Mobile.
So, there you go. These are my predictions. Stop by and let me know what you think or what your predictions are.
Here we go again. Recently, Nokia and Google announced that they were going to collaborate on Android to develop new Intel-chipset based mobile devices. This has led to many in the industry to question Nokia’s commitment to its Symbian operating system. Adding fuel to fire is the news by the Guardian newspaper indicating that Nokia is going to announce an Android based, touchscreen mobile phone at its Nokia World Conference in September 2009.
I truly doubt that Nokia has given up on Symbian just yet. It was only a little over a year ago that Nokia spent millions of dollars to buy out its partners in the OS and made it open source. Secondly, Nokia has been saying since February that they were going to develop Android based devices. I have to agree with Om Malik of GigaOm:
It is quite possible that the company is using Android as a basis for a 3G- or 4G-enabled netbook-type device that’s powered by Intel’s chips.
Finally, while it may be true that Nokia might be losing share of the smartphone market, you have to remember that Nokia is still the largest maker of mobile phones and almost all its phones are based on the Symbian OS.
Samsung today announced that it will launch its first Android powered phone, the i7500 in Europe beginning in June 2009 for €300 ($398). This phone will have a 3.2 inches, 320 x 480 pixel AMOLED touchscreen and will operate on tri-band GSM with HSDPA support. Additional specs include:
- HSDPA 7.2Mbps / HSUPA 5.76Mbps (900 / 1700/ 2100MHz) EDGE / GPRS (850/ 900/1800/1900)
- 3.2″ HVGA(320×480) AMOLED
- 5 MP Camera (Auto Focus), Power LED
- Video: MPEG4, H.263, H.264, WMV, Audio: MP3, AAC, AAC+, e-AAC+, WMA, RA
- Full Web Browser Google Search, Maps, Gmail, YouTube, Calendar, Google Talk, Android Market Connectivity
- Bluetooth® 2.0, USB 2.0, WiFi, MicroUSB, 3.5mm ear jack
- Internal memory: 8GB External memory: Micro SD (Up to 32GB)
- Size 115 x 56 x 11.9mm
While the US launch has not been announced, the 1700 GHz support could make it possible for a future T-Mobile USA launch.
In the beginning there was the PalmOS mobile platform, and then there was Symbian, then Windows Mobile and RIM’s Blackberry OS. Then came the juggernaut iPhone OS from Apple. That was followed by Android from Google. Soon Palm will launch another mobile platform called the WebOS. All these different platforms lead to a question: How many mobile platforms can your company support?
That is just the operating systems. Already the mobile industry is fragmented with dozens of smartphone manufacturers. Add in the different features of the handsets themselves, like accelerometer, GPS, camera, etc, and you have a whole matrix of feature sets that need to be accounted for.
It is amazing how often entrepreneurs and product managers at smaller companies have said to me that this is their strategy. Then I ask them how soon they will be on all these platforms and I get a vague answer of as soon as we can. Given this situation, how long can companies justify developing products for all platforms?
Companies really need to evaluate their strategy against their resources. Building and supporting products on multiple platforms is costly and labor intensive process, just ask all those who build and support PC and Mac products. The complexity increases multiple-fold in the smartphone space. As an entrepreneur or product manager, you don’t have the time to wait until the product has been tested on all the platforms. You need to be out in the market before your competition.
Considering the limited funding and resources, you have to decide on one or two “hero” platforms as Tim Westergren, founder of the popular Pandora music service calls them. He has decided that iPhone is the “hero” platform they will focus on and when WebOS from Palm is available, that will be its second “hero” platform.
There are definite benefits in this strategy: You can develop a product that leverages the various features of that platform. You are able to conserve your resources by developing on few platforms. You can become the “best-in-class” on the specific platforms.
On the flip side, though, you have to weigh how successful are your target platforms going to be. iPhone has done phenomenally well and therefore could be a no-brainer for a lot of us. However, if you were targeting say Android or even the much-anticipated WebOS from Palm, you just have to look back at all those folks who jumped on the PalmOS bandwagon and decide if the rewards outweigh the risk and what is the likelihood of the platform surviving a few years.
Once you have decided on the platforms, like all good strategists, keep evaluating them and your strategy. Tim Westergren did not embark on his strategy right from the get-go. In fact, for two years Pandora was available on AT&T and Verizon Wireless’ application stores where it languished. Only when iPhone came along and Tim decided to launch his product on that platform did he found success.
Can you think back to a time when you didn’t have a mobile phone? Or when you didn’t have a GPS system in your car? Well, those were the good times. Ah the joy of getting lost and no way to get in touch with your friend to help you out. You had your privacy and you had an excuse to show up late for a meeting or avoid your partner’s wrath with a simple “I got lost”. Today, mobile phones and GPS systems are ubiquitous. Now you no longer have that excuse. With new location tracking technologies, now not only you don’t have an excuse but your boss or your partner knows you don’t have one. Google recently released Latitude that allows you to share your location with your friends. This is all fair if you are the one in control. However, what happens when on your next job you get handed a Blackberry with Latitude loaded. What will you do: a) return the Blackberry, b) turn Latitude off, c) do nothing?
Or, take Sense Networks. This company got year’s worth of GPS tracking records of 4 million users in San Francisco from one of its partners and plotted where the various users were at any given time. Though the company did not have user name or address, it could based on where the phone was at night, assign zip codes based GPS co-ordinates and comparing them with other real estate data. Initially the company was focused on making this technology available to consumers but it quickly realized it had a bigger market with businesses who would like nothing better than to provide you with location based information related to their products. It even did a project with a advertising company Kinetic wherein they tracked a group of consumers with common behavior – which Sense Networks calls a tribe – like say visiting a particular bar with a beer promotion. Based on the data, Kinetic managed to convince its brewing client to extend the promotion to other establishment which the tribe also visited. The early results according to Sense Networks are promising.
This is just one example and Sense on purpose did not get the users’ demographic and personal details. However, they are able to “sense” the demographic data based on the patterns they notice by following a user’s GPS trail. But, if Sense could track a person, though anonymous, through just their cell phone tracking software, consider what would happen if marketers and other companies are able to get to not just your GPS trail, but also your demographic and personal details. So, next time you forget your cell phone somewhere, just think that you are in stealth mode and enjoy your freedom, because sooner or later they will track you down .
You can read more about how Sense Networks track and uses the data in this article on Business Week.
It was day 2 (almost on its way to day 3) of the MWC in Barcelona and it was Android’s day to shine. Several carriers and smartphone makers announced today that they will be launching devices powered by Google’s Android OS. First up, Vodafone announced that it will launch HTC’s Magic, the keyboard-less G1. Following up on Vodafone’s announcement with 1-2-3 punches, Heuwei launched its sleek-looking Android device; Acer is working on 2 Android based devices while Samsung does one better by launching 3 Android devices and potentially a Linux Mobile phone too.
In other news, Nokia announced that it will bundle Skype software on all its N-series phones starting with the N97. Also, a group of 17 phone manufacturers and carriers, under the auspices of GSM, adopted the universal charger standard. Phone manufacturers including LG, Samsung, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and operators like AT&T, Orange, Vodafone, T-Mobile and Telefonica agreed to use the microUSB socket as the standard power sockets on all their phones by 2012. Key holdouts include Apple, RIM and Palm, though RIM already uses MiniUSB on its Blackberry devices.
That’s right browser wars are coming. Only this time, they are coming to a mobile phone near you. So far we have Microsoft Mobile IE, Apple’s Safari, Opera, Google’s Chrome and the Blackberry’s proprietary browser. Add to that mix the recently announced and currently undergoing alpha testing, Fennec, the mobile browser from Mozilla, the maker of Firefox open source browser.
Given all these browsers, there is bound to be a shakeup. However, on the flip side of it is the fact that there are so many mobile platforms, Windows Mobile, Apple iPhone OS, Google’s Android, Symbian and Blackberry OS. So, one could argue that each of these are walled gardens and therefore the browsers work in these walled gardens. However, two of the above-named browsers, Opera and Fennec are not tied to any specific platform, though they may not work on all platforms yet. Not to mention, all the big players, except maybe RIM, have the resources to quickly make their browsers platform independent. So, while I don’t expect the browser wars to start right away, I fully expect them in maybe late 2009, early 2010.
In a major change in strategy, Wall Street Journal is reporting that Motorola’s new CEO Shanjay Jha has decided that going forward it will streamline on three OSs for its phones. He will announce these changes as early as today during the earnings call. Motorola will use Google’s Android platform for its consumer targeted smartphones, ditching Symbian OS. It will uses its own P2K OS for feature phones and for the business focused phones, it will use Microsoft Windows Mobile platform. Also, Motorola is looking to outsource some of its Window Mobile based phone production to third parties. Motorola is expected to release its first Android-based, social networking focused smartphone in Q2, 2009.
Let’s hope the struggling Motorola can find its mojo with these changes. However, I am not optimistic about their chances. As I recently wrote, the mobile industry is starting to face some headwinds which are expected to get stronger in 2009. Just today, BusinessWeek reported that according to a survey by mobile application portal GetJar, 76% of users globally are actively looking to reduce their wireless bills and 78% are delaying their new phone purchase.
ASUS, a member of the Open Handset Alliance (OHA), is reportedly working on an Android-based device which it will launch in early next year. This news does not come as a surprise, as Google had recently invited ASUS to join the OHA. The phone will initially launch in Taiwan and will be customized for its clients worldwide. Also, to show its commitment to the OHA, ASUS has indicated that it would phase out the Ericsson Mobile Platform (which is not part of the OHA) in favor of their OHA brethren, Qualcomm and Marvell chipsets.