Handset Makers Move To Android

  • Posted: 25 October 2009 11:16 PM

    The article is posted on the NY Times Web site.

    I started the topic to note the mass exodus from Windows Mobile which is the clear loser in the emerging smartphone market. Talk Windows 7 all you want, but as Mav points out in another topic, the cell phone market (and increasingly the smartphone market) will dwarf all other digital device sectors.

    Apple’s doing quite fine with the iPhone OS and the build out of the app store. I see Apple keeping its competitive advantage for quite awhile but the Android crowd will do its best to catch up. The one problem with so many handset makers moving to Android is product differentiation will become more challenging.

    For now MSFT is the big loser as handset makers dump Windows Mobile (and its licensing fees) for the open development environment offered by Android.

    On an aside, it makes the case for Apple to move into its next major product segment: The much-rumored tablet as quickly as development allows. It will build on the iPhone OS eco-system and position the company yet again ahead of the competition.

         
  • Posted: 25 October 2009 11:31 PM #1

    Anyone reminded of the Beta vs. VHS analogy here, wherein Sony lost its VCR dominance because Sony refused to license its technology to other VCR manufacturers?  In its refusal, Sony handed VHS manufacturers huge market share, even though VHS was substandard technology.  Developers will focus on building apps for the largest audience.  The handset manufacturers are positioning now to build for the Android software.

    In other words, can Apple be the Sony of the 1970s?  And is Android the VHS format?

         
  • Posted: 25 October 2009 11:37 PM #2

    Mercel - 26 October 2009 02:31 AM

    In other words, can Apple be the Sony of the 1970s?  And is Android the VHS format?

    Some are saying that Apple are repeating their mistakes with Mac OS in the phone field. Will Android end up being a cut and paste of iPhone OS - but with more manufacturers?

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  • Posted: 26 October 2009 12:29 AM #3

    rattyuk - 26 October 2009 02:37 AM
    Mercel - 26 October 2009 02:31 AM

    In other words, can Apple be the Sony of the 1970s?  And is Android the VHS format?

    Some are saying that Apple are repeating their mistakes with Mac OS in the phone field. Will Android end up being a cut and paste of iPhone OS - but with more manufacturers?

    More manufacturers competing with each other for the same market share. Similar to the commoditization of the Windows PC market we see today.

    Having lived through Apple’s fall in the mid-90’s, the company’s challenges occurred not because management refused to license the OS, but because Apple management failed to meet demand for the new PowerPC Macs while offering over-priced 680X0 chip-based machines at premium prices. Buyers fled when Apple couldn’t meet demand for the products people wanted.

    Apple is gaining Mac share by providing superior design, engineering and performance at competitive prices in its core demographic markets. The iPhone is gaining share because Apple provides superior design, engineering and performance in the smartphone market.

         
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    Posted: 26 October 2009 12:30 AM #4

    Apple _could_ be Sony, but it isn’t.  Apple isn’t anything like the Sony of the 2000s, or the 1970s.  That makes all the difference.

    Apple’s “mistakes” with Mac OS have yielded its highest Mac sales ever.  “Failure” to license the OS continue to drive record profits from Mac sales, which have plenty of room to grow.  The humbling of Apple and the hiatus of Steve Jobs was the best thing that ever happened to the company, because it refocused itself into an absolute strategic juggernaut now.  Management is world-class, which wasn’t the case for Apple in the 80s and much of the 90s.

    I don’t think you can compare the VCR wars to the smartphone wars.  There’s far too many differences and factors at play, far too many to discuss intelligently in one post.  Suffice it to say that Apple has an enormous mindshare and ecosystem lead, particularly in the App/software extensibility space, with a developer/third-party accessory base that no one is even close to matching at this point.  Also, Apple started from 0 in the smartphone space.  Sony started the market with Beta, more or less, then mismanaged and lost it.

    Also interesting, if Wikipedia is to be believed, is the issue of “capacity.”  Sony supposedly might’ve lost the Beta war in part because the BetaMax tapes recorded half as much video as VHS.  Well, today’s iPhone competitors like the Palm Pre (8GB flash), HTC Hero (256MB built-in, extensible to 16GB), Droid (no default 32GB option, at least for the Moto version) don’t offer iPhone’s 32GB option.  It helps that Apple has enormous pull in the NAND flash space.

    Success in the handset industry has to be measured differently.  Apple can top out at 10%, even 5% of all mobile handset sales and still be hugely successful.  I suspect that Apple has far more headroom than that, though…

    [ Edited: 26 October 2009 12:37 AM by Mav ]

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  • Posted: 26 October 2009 12:33 AM #5

    Mercel - 26 October 2009 02:31 AM

    Anyone reminded of the Beta vs. VHS analogy here, wherein Sony lost its VCR dominance because Sony refused to license its technology to other VCR manufacturers?  In its refusal, Sony handed VHS manufacturers huge market share, even though VHS was substandard technology.  Developers will focus on building apps for the largest audience.  The handset manufacturers are positioning now to build for the Android software.

    In other words, can Apple be the Sony of the 1970s?  And is Android the VHS format?

    Actually, I think Microsoft has positioned itself as the failed format for smartphones, not Apple. With close to 100k in apps and market share gains by the minute, the iPhone is the emerging leader in the smartphone market.

    As for developing apps, the iPhone OS and Mac OS X have a similar foundation. Apple provides a far more lucrative development environment than the Android platform will provide anytime soon. Please remember the iPod touch (and the much-rumored Apple tablet) also take advantage of the app store and the content available at the various iTunes stores.

         
  • Posted: 26 October 2009 12:35 AM #6

    Not so fast…

    Per AppleInsider:

    Inside Apple’s iPhone subscription accounting changes (pg 3)

    Regarding Apple’s software updates “..it also simplifies the buying experience of the App Store, as users don’t have to check to see if their apps are compatible with their operating system version. Instead, Apple can force developers to certify their apps against the latest version and simply delist them from the App Store if they fail to do this, as it did in the upgrade to 3.0.

    This provides the company with a competitive advantage over other mobile software platforms, where many users simply can’t upgrade to the latest version because of compatibility issues with their phone. For example, Microsoft only certifies its latest Windows Mobile 6.5 to work on new phones introduced this year, despite being characterized by the company as a relatively minor update.

    T-Mobile/HTC’s original G1 phone similarly has hardware limitations that Android developers have warned will prevent it from being upgraded to the latest software update at some point in the future, but likely before its two year life span is up. It is believed that its early adopters will not even be able to upgrade to Android 2.0.”

    http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/09/10/21/inside_apples_iphone_subscription_accounting_changes.html

    The value of any given smartphone will be ultimately be determined by the software it can run (assuming first that the interface and software are first rate), because the software drives the device’s utility to the consumer. Therefore, Apple may have an insurmountable lead that is actually expanding with every passing day.

    Jeff

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  • Posted: 26 October 2009 12:47 AM #7

    jeffi - 26 October 2009 03:35 AM

    The value of any given smartphone will be ultimately be determined by the software it can run (assuming first that the interface and software are first rate), because the software drives the device’s utility to the consumer. Therefore, Apple may have an insurmountable lead that is actually expanding with every passing day.

    Thank you.  grin

    Explain that factoid to Droid users when their smartphone becomes obsolete long before the expiration of the two-year contract. My 2.5 year-old original iPhone (now a handheld home device still functioning well on W-Fi) can still run the same OS that powers my 3GS.

    Apple: Free software upgrades over the two years of your iPhone contract - “We’ve got a fact for that!”  LOL

         
  • Posted: 26 October 2009 09:21 AM #8

    The smartphone wars are not like the Betamax/ VHS wars. Both video players utilized a singular tape input for content and therefore could compete on price, performance, and marketing as their device’s utility remained the same. Smartphones compete on their utility which is derived from the software applications they can run. The Android OS will have multiple software versions (1.0, 2.0 etc.) running on different pieces of hardware from different manufacturers. This will create a less than optimal user experience because some of the applications won’t work well on differing hardware, or not at all on prior version of the Android software. It will frequently be a tower of babel for the application developers as it will be impossible to test their software on all of the available devices. Android will be quick to replace WIN Mobil, Nokia’s Symbian, and will compete well with the PRE WEB-OS, and RIMM. Importantly, Android will not be, and cannot be an Iphone killer as the iphone has more utility (applications) and a better user experience due to the controlled nature of the Iphone ecosystem. Iphone customers will also be loyal repeat buyers of iphones in the future, but not because the iphone has highest customer satisfaction rating. Iphone users will be loyal because of the large investment it’s users make in purchasing applications and media content that will only run on the Iphone. Therefore, the smartphone space remains Apple’s to lose.

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    Posted: 26 October 2009 10:45 AM #9

    I saw advertisements for a T-Mobile handset “with Google” while I was in the US last week. I’m guessing it was android based?

         
  • Posted: 26 October 2009 11:01 AM #10

    MaxW - 26 October 2009 01:45 PM

    I saw advertisements for a T-Mobile handset “with Google” while I was in the US last week. I’m guessing it was android based?

    If it was the ad with Cat Stevens singing and Whoopi Goldberg and loadsa other celebs passing it from hand to hand. It seems to be on HEAVY rotation at the moment.

    It is highlighting the only thing that can be said about android which is that you can customize it to be “you” as opposed to customizing the iPhone to do all the things you need to do - using apps.

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    Posted: 26 October 2009 12:24 PM #11

    jeffi - 26 October 2009 12:21 PM

    The smartphone wars are not like the Betamax/ VHS wars. Both video players utilized a singular tape input for content and therefore could compete on price, performance, and marketing as their device’s utility remained the same. Smartphones compete on their utility which is derived from the software applications they can run. The Android OS will have multiple software versions (1.0, 2.0 etc.) running on different pieces of hardware from different manufacturers. This will create a less than optimal user experience because some of the applications won’t work well on differing hardware, or not at all on prior version of the Android software. It will frequently be a tower of babel for the application developers as it will be impossible to test their software on all of the available devices. Android will be quick to replace WIN Mobil, Nokia’s Symbian, and will compete well with the PRE WEB-OS, and RIMM. Importantly, Android will not be, and cannot be an Iphone killer as the iphone has more utility (applications) and a better user experience due to the controlled nature of the Iphone ecosystem. Iphone customers will also be loyal repeat buyers of iphones in the future, but not because the iphone has highest customer satisfaction rating. Iphone users will be loyal because of the large investment it’s users make in purchasing applications and media content that will only run on the Iphone. Therefore, the smartphone space remains Apple’s to lose.

    Good points.  Another not often quoted reason for success of VHS format is manufacturers encourage adult movies.

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  • Posted: 28 October 2009 11:23 AM #12

    Google adds free turn-by-turn navigation, car dock UI to Android 2.0

    Video demo here.

    This is possibly the best navigation system I’ve seen: voice activated, street view if you really want to know where your’re going, and traffic updates as you drive. I now see why Apple bought that mapping company; they knew Google was going to reserve this feature for Android. Oh, and did i forget to mention that it’s Free?


    Edit: here’s the NYTimes take on it.

    Google executives said that they hoped that the new Google Maps for Mobile with navigation capabilities would eventually be available on Apple?s iPhone and other devices. But they said it was up to the makers of those devices to decide whether to include the application.

    [ Edited: 28 October 2009 04:38 PM by willrob ]      
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    Posted: 29 October 2009 10:45 PM #13

    Interesting discussion on Android 2.0 and Droid memory limitation
      AndriodandMe

    The Motorola Droid will be the most powerful Android phone to date when it launches on November 6, 2009. However, the device still features the same shortcomings of all other Android phones. The Droid ships with a 512 MB ROM which contains only 256 MB available for app storage.

    Google does not support installing apps to the SD card (and likely never will), so developers are limited in what they can create.