Monday, May 11, 2009

Differentiation in the age of commodity smartphones? P1

I'm a fan of Android as a mobile operating system from both user and developer perspectives. I'm less enamoured of Google's handling of the Android Market but that's another issue.

Ever since I heard about Android and even more so having worked with companies in the Android ecosystem I've been wondering, "How will manufacturers differentiate in the age of commodity smartphones?".

Software licensing costs used to make up a hefty proportion of the cost a mobile phone. These days I could fly out to Taiwan or China and specify a set of mobile components and have the hardware ready in short order. Getting the software on to the device (depending on hardware) could also be done pretty quickly. If I can do that what about the numerous OEM manufacturers with access to more resources than myself?

What happens when anybody can release smartphones as capable as the iPhone (from a hardware perspective) in short order and as capable as the (then) current Android or Symbian release?

Exciting times and there's already blood in the water.

The deluge of Android devices predicted for the first half of 2009 has failed to materialise but the second half of the years looks like we could see between 3 and 7 devices from multiple manufacturers. With the software barrier down manufacturers like Kogan, Yuhua and Huawei are looking are to enter the market with their own brand's rather than just manufacturing devices for the big boys. More established brands like Samsung, Motorola and Sony Ericsson also have devices in the pipeline for this year along with the previously ,mentioned new entrants and others, who are new to the phone industry like Archos and Acer.

Faced with this kind of choice, why do I buy a Samsung, Motorola or SonyEricsson, the name?

Seeing Samsung's first Android device (the i7500, admittedly with incomplete software) I assumed that Samsung was spending all this time modifying Android, adding its (reasonably) well regarded custom TouchWiz UI and modifying the media player (at the very least) to fit in with existing design language and branding.

Motorola has hired in excess of 300 Android engineers, I wonder if Sony Ericsson, Samsung and the rest are really committing or just dipping their toes in. Its arguable that Motorola needs this more than anybody, apart from maybe SonyEricsson.

I'd be interested to know what other people think about this. I've heard that Android is not a particularly easy OS for the phone manufacturers to work with. Google's inexperience in the market apparently shows in the difficulty involved in creating a range of superficially different looking phones quickly and easily. The UI framework does not support easy skinning or other modifications without making quite involved mods. I wonder if Google have focused their attention on application developers and failed to provide a smooth enough path for the handset manufacturers.

Symbian will take until well into next year to be fully Open Source, has Google blown its head start? Unlikely, though there look to be some interesting gaps in the tooling for operators that a smart startup could exploit if they can move quickly its worth keeping in mind that, apart from handling an open source operating system, the Nokia/Symbian juggernaut has done this many times before.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Shameless plug!

iJira, imKon's client for the awesome Jira is available on the iTunes App Store. If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch and use Jira please check it out and let us know what you think.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Blogger FaceBook Integration, there the hell it is!

Ok, so I previously bitched about the lack of blog integration in FaceBook. Clearly a case of RTFM on my part but.
I still think this is too well hiden though.
I was expecting the Blogger integration to be in an application but its actually buried in the Notes under import settings.
On the plus side I didn' have to do any actual work, just get one of my friends to read the manual for me and tell me what I was missing. I will forever call this the Dave Sag method of technological problem solving, those who know Dave will know why.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Blogger FaceBook Integration, where the hell is it?

I started blogging about an hour ago, having chosen Blogger because a good friend of mine uses it. No particular investigation was done and I may may well pay for it.
I'd have expected there to be an easy to use widget or some such which would allow me to bore my friends (and random surfers) without the extra clicks required to post each blog to my profile independently.

I suspect my usual manouver of just goading somebody else into writing it just won't be quick enough this time.

Of course that would mean delving into the FaceBook API before I was really planning on doing so. LinkedIn should release their API soon, that shou be interesting, though whether my connections want to be bored by my inane ramblings is another issue.

African Cup of Nations Quarter Final, Ghana - Nigeria!

Is it just me, or does football turn totally reasonable people into slavering savages? Even my mother, a more mild mannerd and reasonable person, you could never hope to meet and yet when it comes to football...

First she gangs up with my dad and my lodger against me on Saturday, she's an Arsenal supporter so I should have expected it. Despite our having lived in West London for years. I am a Chelsea supporter and as you can imagine game days can get pretty lively.

With the African Cup of Nations on we can team up and enjoy bashing the Nigerian team ;)

Black Stars all the way.