May 26, 2012
I believe Nokia when it says that the company has no Plan B, or that Plan B is to make Plan A a success – at least for now. Perhaps it would prefer not to consider such an alternative until it saw that Windows Phone was failing to make inroads after an extended period of time. Of course, the big question is, how long would that period be?
The line from Nokia is that the ecosystem of Windows Phone must succeed for Nokia to succeed. But I’m not sure it’s so black and white. Apple, and for years before it, RIM, succeeded with no other licensees of its operating system. There was that brief window where PalmOne was the only successful licensee of Palm OS, owned by PalmSource. And, really, which major handset provider besides Nokia was wildly successful with Symbian?
Indeed, while few doubt that Nokia will be the most successful Windows Phone licensee, a successful ecosystem does not necessarily make for a successful licensee. Some would argue that, if Windows Phone proves a failure beyond Nokia, than Microsoft should just purchase Nokia. But Stephen Elop, in recounting the story of how Nokia came to license Windows Phone, says that that was never on the table. Indeed, Nokia would be about as comfortable inside Microsoft as Motorola Mobility still looks inside Google. Not needing the IP, or being able to leverage it without purchase, Microsoft would be loath to buy Nokia no matter how high its share of Windows Phone became.
Tags: ecosystems, Google, Googorola, licensing, Microkia, Mokia, motorola, Plan B, Tizen, webOS, Windows Phone
May 3, 2012
Google Play may not be the least confusing name for a digital storefornt and the collection of wares that it offers exclusives the Web apps that are offered via its Chrome Web Store. But the rebranding of what was primarily Android Market best represents what an integrated way to purchase the main digital media types – apps, music and video, and books and magazines – should be. While Amazon has subbrands e-books (Kindle Store) and its music and video service (Amazon Instant Video), but these are under the Amazon umbrella brand that is synonymous with retailing..
Apple, though, remains stuck with three different stores for music and video, apps, and books. And two of those storefronts use the iTunes name which, in addition to mixing the function of an organization tool and a storefront, is far out of date with respect to what might be considered relevant to a “tune.” Yes, Apple, can take its time in revealing how a brand makes sense after all, but “iPod” connoted something general. In contrast, iTunes connotes something specific.
Indeed, Microsoft has been on a similar path. It has the Windows (Phone) Marketplace for apps, Zune for music and videos, and its new partnership with Barnes and Noble will result in a Nook-branded e-book store. If iTunes is too broadly associated with the success of one type of digital media, though, Zune of course has the opposite problem, and I’ve never understood why Microsoft would hang on to a brand so strongly associated with a device that failed in the market. The company has decided to move on from its branding of Windows Live, but it also has been known to keep services limping along forever.
Tags: Amazon, app stores, Apple, digital retailing, ecosystems, Google, Google Play, Microsoft
February 20, 2011
The iPhone distinguished itself with a single home button for returning from an app to the launch screen. While its functionality may have been strained a bit as the platform has progressed. e.g., having to tap twice to bring up the app switcher, its single UI depression concession made a statement about minimalist simplicity that few platforms (webOS may be one example) have answered.
In contrast, Android launched with four major UI buttons (Home, Menu, Back and Search) and Windows Phone launched with three (Windows/Start, Back, and Search). Exactly how many – if any – buttons is optimal can be debated by user interface experts or considered personal preference. As is the case with much of what I consider Android variation, the media has jumped upon the tendency for different vendors to implement the Android button order in a different way, even in different handsets from the same manufacturer.
I don’t see that as such a major issue, but the Search button, in particular, always struck me as gratuitous. Yes, we know Google is a search company, but that doesn’t mean I need a search button omnipresent on my device. And I was somewhat disappointed that Microsoft followed suit (since, of course, Bing is really important, too).
Now Google, if not having so much seen the error of its ways, will give licensees the option to forego any and all buttons in Honeycomb tablets and presumably Ice Cream handsets. Perhaps this was due to the influence of Matias Duarte, a notion that buttons are trickier to place on a tablet versus a generally vertically oriented handset, or simple feedback from partners.
The drawback is that now, in addition to potentially having different button layouts, Android devices may now have different combinations of buttons and gestures for the same task. Regardless, these devices now have the potential to look cleaner and more streamlined because of the change. Perhaps that’s one of the liberties that Nokia will feel free to take as it balances its unique customization privileges against compromising the consistency in the Windows Phone ecosystem.
Tags: Android, buttons, differntiation, Google, IIce Cream, iPhone, Matias Duarte, Search, Start button, tablets, user interface, webOS, Windows Phone
December 7, 2010
As it did with Eclair (Android 2.1), Google has taken the occasion of a new version of Android dubbed Gingerbread (Android 2.3) to bring out a new handset offering a “pure Android experience.” This time around, that purity is brought to you by Samsung rather than HTC, which produced the original Nexus One, a handset that stole some thunder (but few sales) from the Motorola Droid juggernaut.
Google has used the Nexus handsets for experimenting with distribution outside the carrier channel, even if it made the original Nexus somewhat of a sacrificial lamb. The superior distribution of Best Buy should certainly help with the push of the device.
However, the improvements in Android 2.3 may not do much to drive consumers to the Google-branded handset, at least for a while. Unlike recent Android enhancements that brought improvements such as more home screens, dramatically faster operation, and mobile hotspot capability, .most of Gingerbread’s improvements are under the hood. The marquee feature, NFC, could yield some compelling new applications, but the one most popularly considered – enabling payments – is hardly a magnet.
The “S” serving as the device’s surname refers to the Samsung Galaxy S family that is the foundation for not only the Nexus S design, but defines many of the key hardware characteristics for the Samsung Focus, which many consider “the Windows Phone to get.” With the Galaxy S, Samsung has pursued a strategy of ubiquity versus exclusivity, and so the Nexus S will compete with similarly priced and specced siblings at all four major carriers, including the Vibrant (as well as the faster G2 and MyTouch 4G) on T-Mobile’s own portfolio. Even though the Nexus S is an unlocked device, its (partial) optimization for T-Mobile’s network all but assures that it will be most appealing to customers using the smallest of the national facilities-based carriers.
The Nexus S may be less “a Nexus to perplex us,” but Google’s vanity handsets still seem like a bug in its diversification strategy, one that must be generating considerable head-scratching among Android licensees, particularly those that are not anointed to build a Nexus in a given cycle.. Google is still staying clear of going head to head with OEMs at major carriers, but while it is providing more serious competition this time around, the carriers are better armed as well.
Tags: Android, Google, HTC, licensing, motorola, Nexus One, Nexus S, NFC, OEMs, Samsung
February 17, 2009
At Mobile World Congress, Nokia and Microsoft joined Apple, RIM, Google and Palm in announcing that they’ll be supporting application stores or marketplaces for their operating systems or handsets. This should result in easier discoverabiliy of functionality for consumers and could further reward developers who have been lured by development funds. While the verdict is still out on whether the horse will pay to drink, Apple has brought the water to it..
However, there’s also an opportunity to build upon what Apple has done with its iPhone-based App Store, which started as a clean experience and still provides good exposure for popular and highlighted software. But many applications have gotten lost in the crowd.
To be fair, Apple has done a better job of providing exposure for these other programs in the iTunes software, but there’s also more that Apple could be doing with personalization. This isn’t like the iTunes music store which was hampered in its “Just For You” recommendation by relying only on paid downloads. Also, several of these new stores provided by RIM, Nokia and Microsoft could hit the ground running with an existing library of hundreds or thousands of applications and the fewer restrictions placed upon applications for many of these other operating systems should open the doors to a wider array of application types.
Tags: Android, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, RIM, smartphones, wireless marketplaces
December 13, 2008
This isn’t one of those Macworld Expo predictions posts that will inundate the blogosphere in the coming weeks. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Apple announce Safari 4 at Macworld Expo as Google’s Chrome browser has left beta.
Chrome has mostly been portrayed as bad news for Firefox, particularly given Google’s previous support for the Mozilla browser, but it may also serve to blunt the impact of one of Apple’s most recent — and most questioned — Windows software dalliances. As folks who have had their cars damaged as they drove through jungle parks will tell you, a safari and chrome don’t mix, and the competitive browsers are yet another case of Apple and Google making for strange bedfellows.
Speaking of Safari (and for that matter, iTunes) for Windows. using Apple applications for PCs reminds me of the bad old days of Microsoft Office for the Mac when Microsoft would ponderously overlay the Windows user interface onto its software in the name of preserving cross-platform consistency (as opposed to today where it simply asks Mac users to use software with the name Windows in it). It was as user-hostile move for Microsoft as it is today for Apple, which should change the button designs, fonts, window styles and controls to match Windows conventions better.
Tags: Apple, browser wars, Chrome, Google, Safari
February 24, 2008
Last May, I posted a response to a Randal Stross piece that I thought unfairly compared Apple and Sony stores. However, his Digital Domain piece today on how Microsoft should buy a large business software company such as SAP instead of taking on Google has me scratching my head.
Mr. Stross advocates that, rather than taking on a strong and nimble competitor such as Google, Microsoft should stick to its knitting and acquire a large software company such as SAP as opposed to another strong Web player such as Yahoo!, which one of his sources characterizes as “an old-style Internet access, in decline, and at a premium.”
This is like a trainer recommending that a boxer with a black eye lift more weights to improve his arms..Buying SAP may lead to further consolidation in Microsoft’s strongest market, but it does little to help it gain ground on the Internet advertising gold rush that Microsoft fears Google will use to launch applications that compete with its cash cows. Following Mr. Stross’s advice would effectively mean withdrawal from the online space. There’s a case for Microsoft spinning off that business, but for now Microsoft still sees the Web as its manifest destiny.
If Microsoft were to buy an enterprise vendor to address the Google threat, it should be salesforce.com. Such an acquisition would enable Microsoft to make a stronger foray in software-as-a-service. It could offer real applications to counter what Google might only hope to build one day under the pressure of an offering that is difficult to shoehorn into its free, consumer-focused, ad-driven model
Tags: Google, Microsoft, salesforce.com, Yahoo
January 19, 2008
Last week, TechCrunch picked up a New Yorker story that notes that Eric Schmidt now recuses himself from the segments of Apple board meetings that discuss the iPhone due to a conflict of interest with Google’s Android operating system, about which Chairman Jobs is none too keen. I wonder if he uses that time off to field calls from his fellow Google executives imploring him to get in there and remember the part about organizing the world’s information.
Erick Schonfeld asks what good is a board member who cannot talk about a company’s hottest product, going so far as to suggest whether Schmidt should be on Apple’s board at all? At least for now, Schmidt is benefiting Apple according to the old adage about “the enemy of my enemy.” But I also wonder about the slippery slope. Can Schmidt be there when they talk about being able to access Flickr albums from Apple TV?
Tags: Android, Apple, Google, iPhone
November 30, 2007
Today, Google made it official that it will bid in the 700 MHz spectrum auction and there’s a flurry of media and excitement around it — most of it premature. How much will Google bid? Will it partner to do it? Will it win? And what will it do if it does win? At least the other shoe has dropped on Verizon Wireless’s open access announcements earlier this week. CEO Eric Schmidt has defended the hedge by noting that it will mean open access regardless of who wins due to FCC requirements.
Even if Google does win, we shouldn’t necessarily expect for it to be a branded carrier. Remember that one of the conditions it wanted from the FCC was mandatory wholesaling. So.. much as with Android, there may not be a “Google Wireless” but lots of different MVNOs using Google’s spectrum as infrastructure.
Tags: Google, wireless. open access