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Mobile War

June 20, 2010 2 comments

For those of you that might not have heard (might want to get out of your caves), Apple announced their new iPhone 4 last week and it looks pretty impressive. Not that the features being released on the phone are unheard of features, but the fact that these long awaited features have finally made it onto the iPhone and made it that much more complete. However this isn’t a post about praising Apple & their new product, but rather a post regarding the two major competitors on the market at the moment, and the possible impacts that Microsoft’s future mobile device might have on the mobile market.

Apple & Google are the new titans in the mobile market. They have gained a combined total of 78% in regards to the mobile market place and from the looks of it, Google is gaining ground pretty quickly. There’s an argument that the 59% of the market owned by Apple includes iPod Touches and iPads, while the Google data shows only their Android Smartphone’s and thus renders Apples data inconclusive. I don’t really agree with that as Google has a dozen or more different handsets spanning multiple carriers on the market running their OS while Apple only has a single phone on a single network. Even if you include their two other products, Apple still has fewer products on the market than Google, and a greater share of the market. Most impressive indeed. Will it last however? I’m not to sure. I don’t think that Google will overtake Apple by selling a single phone, I don’t think anyone can. I do believe that if Google keeps pumping enough handsets onto the market that they’ll be able to catch Apple sooner than later.

The Google Android platform is a solid platform and up until iOS 4.0 it was superior when it came to features in my opinion, but lacked a solid piece of hardware to power the latest and greatest Android features as they were designed to be operated. The app fragmentation has also hurt the handset I believe and until Google gets a grip on that issue, I have a bad feeling that developers will continue to move to iOS. That works great for me as I own an iPhone, but does not look well for Android phone owners. Android owners argue this point, saying that the Android Market now contains 50,000 apps and is still going strong. While that may be true, they don’t realize that the Android Market place has been in existence for 21 months now, and only contains 50,000 apps. Apples App Store contained 185,000 apps within its first 21 months of existence. There’s your proof of the preferred platform. Google Android can be developed for on any platform as it uses Java to create its apps while Apple iPhone Apps must be created on a Mac. The Android OS has a greater range of development options and thus a larger developer audience, however the Market Place contains 27% of the apps that the Apple App Store contained at 21 months of life. Why? Fragmentation of the Market Place due to too many handsets on the market using a varied version of the operating system. A solid example is multi-touch. Not all phones support multi-touch, and so developers must choose to either add multi-touch support for the few handsets that our out on the market and loose profit by abandoning those that do not support multi-touch, or develop the app to support both hardware configurations which appears to be a real pain from everything that I’ve been reading.

I believe that the better platform at the moment is the iOS. Android would be the perfect platform if they followed suit with Microsoft and developed their OS and imposed hardware restrictions on the manufactures that use their Android OS. Developers would no longer need to worry about fragmentation and I think it’s safe to assume that developers would flock to the Android platform knowing that they can write once and run on all handsets. Considering that Google provides the OS for all manufactures to use on their handsets, I think that the Android Market share will surpass the iOS Market share just by shear volume of handsets on the market. Developers would love it, it would be a gold mine for them to dig into and leave the Apple iOS behind.

What about Microsoft? They have their new Windows Phone 7 coming out here pretty soon and it looks rather enticing to me. The support of .NET and XNA will allow developers to rapidly develop games or software using existing code that they’ve used in previous applications they’ve developed using Visual Studio. It uses Silver light for the actual applications on the device, and while it provides a nice user experience, I think that the learning curve for new developers will be steep. I tried to get involved in it and was confused and frustrated by the lack of documentation provided. Yes it’s out there, but you have to find the documentation on how to execute something in particular, then double check in the MSDN docs to make sure that this is valid to use with the .NET Compact Framework.
Microsoft needs to build a repo just like they did for the XNA Framework for Windows Phone development. It would cover development of Silver light apps for the phone and developers could refer to it instead of traversing the internet in search of Windows Silver light examples that they need to convert into mobile apps.

Will Microsoft’s new Mobile OS compete with Apple & Google? Sadly I don’t really think it does. While Microsoft’s new OS is really slick and it does exactly what the iPhone did 3 years ago. It’s innovative and a fresh new way to use a mobile phone, however I just don’t think they have what it takes to compete. In order for the platform to succeed you need developers on it. If you confuse the developers or don’t provide the support they need, then you will have a failing OS. Thankfully Microsoft has typically always provided great support for development on their technologies, so I’m hoping to see some sort of beefing up on the Windows Phone documentation & support before it actually hits store shelves.

What do you think?

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Security of your data

June 1, 2010 Leave a comment

I logged into my Google account the other day and had a nice little banner that ran across the top of my GMail that said “We believe your account might have been accessed by someone in China”; or something to that affect. There was a link that I clicked on that showed me the IP address of the person that accessed my Google account and sure enough, it was from China.

I went ahead and performed a Sign out of all sessions and then changed my password, and went on my marry way. I thought about it though and realized that Google did something that no body else really does anymore. They alerted me to the fact that my account was accessed by someone other than myself. Why can’t more companies do this? They ask ‘remember this computer’ and people usually select that option to do so, but they don’t let you know when a computer other than the one you selected to be remembered has logged into your account.

This brought some concern to me over the security of our data that is stored online. While I don’t really keep personal information on the internet, there’s still those that bank online and use their credit cards for transactions. How secure is your data? You only know what the companies want you to know, and if there’s the possibility for your information to become accessible to the public in some way, they aren’t going to tell you. That’s just bad business there.

Moral of the story is, be wary about trusting online companies with your personal data. It might not be as secure as they lead you to believe.

Categories: Google, Security

Android Platform Vs iPhone Platform

January 14, 2010 Leave a comment

Over the last couple months there has been a flurry of blogs and news articles regarding the iPhone Vs. Droid or iPhone Vs. Android and while they do a good job of showcasing the good and the bad side of each mobile device, they are not really a fair comparison to either product.

The iPhone OS was developed by Apple, with the App Store created by Apple and the iPhone and iPod Touch hardware being designed by Apple. The iPhone when you stand back and look at it, is a complete platform created, developed and implemented by Apple.
Now let’s take a look at Google’s Android platform. The Android OS was developed by Google, the Android Market was created by Google and the phone’s hardware is created by several manufactures and distributed by several wireless carriers.

This provides both companies with a completely different platform for their mobile solutions. Apple has a controlled platform, one that gives them the greatest amount of security and control over what users can obtain and perform with their devices.
Google on the other hand has taken an open source approach and provided all of the manufactures with the source code to the OS, allowing them to edit the Android OS as they see fit to deliver a fully customized experience to their users when sold through the manufacturers selected wireless provider.

Until the release of the Nexus One by Google, the Android OS was only used by 3rd party companies. Apple’s iPhone OS is restricted to Apple. Any update to the iPhone OS can be pushed to users phones via iTunes and it’s guaranteed to work with each users iPhone provided the update supports the older generations of the iPhone or iPod Touch.
Google can release a new version of their Android operating system, but with so many manufactures designing custom elements to their handsets, the updates are not guaranteed to work with every mobile device on the market running the Android OS.
A tip of the hat must be given to Apple in this regard.

The other big thing I believe Apple has going in their favor is the App Store. Up until this past week I was leaning more towards the Android Market as being better than the iPhone, or at least having the potential to be. However, in light of the latest phishing scam released into the Android Market my opinions have swayed and I believe that Apple has the better solution in regards to Mobile Device Applications.
While many developers do not like the way Apple handles the App review process, it definitely works towards the consumers advantage. The mobile user can download an application knowing that they are safe from malicious hackers and that their private information is (in theory) protected from predators.
The other downside to the Android Market is the fact that an app is submitted and can be downloaded for all Android based devices. This creates more work on the developers end as they will have to test their app against several mobile devices now to ensure that any customizations done to the OS by that manufacture or wireless provider has not broken something along the way that the developers app will need to have working. While some developers are having to do this with 3G/3GS apps now, the developer can rest assured that when he tests the app within the Apple emulator, and it works, then it will work with the consumer once released. Android on the other hand does not guarantee that it will work, as what is represented in the emulator is not a good representation of the many different kinds of hardware on the market that the consumer might have and be running the app on.
What Google has created is the Windows Mobile scenario. You download your app and hope that your handset will be able to run it without glitches.
The iPhone does not suffer from this, and that is due to the fact that Apple is the sole user of the iPhone OS. If Google wants to make their Market a serious competitor against Apples app store, they will need to take steps to secure users data and ensure that all of the apps created will work on all Android based devices. Due to the fact that the OS is open source, Google has it’s hands tied and really does not have a way to ensure that each Android device released to the market will support every app and provide a solid way to protect users data. They can implement a better application review process to ensure users aren’t being victimized by a hacker, but stopping all of it will still be difficult.

Lastly I want to take a look at the hardware and software side of the Mobile Platform provided by both Google and Apple. Google’s OS is open source, which means every manufacture out there can provide users with a fully customized experience from the manufacture. This is perfect for hardware manufactures as they can ensure now that their device does not look and feel like the rest of the Android pack out there on the market. They can be different, and they can offer cool content that other devices don’t offer out of the box.
Apple’s iPhone OS is closed source and only Apple has access to it. The OS is really restricted in terms of customization, and limits users as to what they can do to it. It also means that consumers are forced to shell out the money to Apple, as there are no other hardware devices on the market that use the iPhone OS for consumers to choose from.
The Android OS currently runs on several hand held devices and provide consumers with a wide range of devices that they can choose from. The only downside to the Android OS from a platform stand point is that it is open sourced and thus there is no way to guarantee that the RSS Reader app i download on my Motorola DROID will run on my HTC Nexus One. Each device can in theory run a custom version of the OS that has the potential to break compatibility with various apps in the market place.
Apple’s iPhone OS does not suffer from this issue, as there is only one device on the market.

In terms of Hardware, Apple developed the OS and the hardware specifications for their iPhone. This gives them the upper hand as they can now produce a product that is highly optimized and get the best performance out of the device that’s possible.
The Android OS is developed by Google while Motorola or HTC create the hardware. When tested, the Nexus One was not all that much faster when processing Java and rendering HTML web pages on than the iPhone 3GS. The Nexus One has some killer specs with it, but wasn’t able to blow away a 1 year old iPhone. Third Party manufactures can create flimsy hardware, put the Android OS on it and push it out for a quick phone, and after I played with several Android based devices find myself disappointed.
Apple has control over the hardware that the OS will be installed onto, and take a lot of pride in it. Google’s OS has been put on some shabby hardware, and it tarnish’s some peoples opinions on the ‘Google Platform’ when they don’t really understand that Google’s Android OS is actually pretty solid. It’s the manufacture that drops the ball.

Now that the Nexus One is out, I’m curious how it operates. I would really like to purchase one to replace my iPhone, but I’m waiting until the 3G issue is resolved.

At the moment, I think that the iPhone platform is the better platform. Apple offers an all in one solution for themselves, developers and consumers. I think if Google wants to start competing with Apple’s platform, they will need to make some changes, and they will need to be made soon. Starting with their Android Market approval process, and enhancing the Market experience. The Android operating system is solid, all it needs to really give it a place in the wireless world is a solid piece of hardware. That’s what I was hoping the Nexus One would be, but it appears that after only selling 20,000 units, there is something else to be said regarding the device. It’s not the device that’s the problem, but the Android platform as a whole. Google needs to take a step back and consider it’s next steps for the platform carefully, because the way it’s running now isn’t going to steal Apple’s thunder away from the iPhone.

Categories: Android, iPhone Tags: , , ,