Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How Android will fix it problems in smartphone market

Well, I don't have a thorough tech or market analysis on the captioned subject. However, I just have some very preliminary thoughts on one of future possibility of what might happen in the current 'war' between Android and iOS.

Yes, Android's activation figure have already outpaced iOS given the fact that it is a many-against-one situation in the smartphone market. However, the current criticism on Android remains, i.e. (i) the fragmentation in Android versions due to multiple handset manufacturers and (ii) the malware problem of Android apps. I think these 2 are the biggest problem for Android. I think what Google can do something about them. However, I think Google should not do that in a big bang but rather doing that discretionary in next 2 years or so. The reason is that, in order for Google to fix those 2 problems, it has to go somewhat the Apple way, to have a tight grip of its ecosystem. I don't think Google will go all the way like what Apple does, i.e. to do everything in house. But the problems are really the consequences of given freedom to let the market to choose which have resulted with the good (explosive growth in adoption) and the bad (those 2 problems). Thus, if Google really want to fix the problems, it has to somehow take back some of the freedom that they gave out.

So, why 2 years? That has nothing to do with Apple, cuz, Apple is not gonna change its way until it is not working. The 2 years is my guess for Micorsoft to demise in the smartphone market. Window 8 has all the potentials, but I still think that MS is just too late in the smartphone game, it will go just like how Zume went before. I predict that MS will still stay in the mobile OS game, but more for the tablet market, not in the smartphone one. Thus, Google should wait till the MS smartphone is almost dead, then it can make a bigger push to control the release of Android codes. In that way, handset manufacturer's freedom to manipulate and customized Android for their sake will be limited, but they can't complain because the alternative of jumping in the MS camp will no longer be available. So, they will have to either live in the mercy of Google or exit the smartphone market altogether. Google can impose more restrictive demand on the handset requirements for using Android, either through licensing or else. In that way, I guess the fragmentation problem will gradually go away in 2-3 versions of Android.

In terms of malware, it is really the problem of Google's control of app marketplace. Yes, everybody can download Android apps anywhere. Google can't control other distribution channels. But, what Google can do is to promote its own distribution channel and market the hell of it using its big wallet. Also, put control and review the apps in its own distribution channel, so as to ensure their quality and make them bug-free. That's more-or-less the Apple way, the difference is that it will still let other legal distribution channels exists in the market, Google will beat them in the market and ultimately become the winner of it. I can't think of the details, but I can guess that Google can put a '*' sign on the icons of those apps that approved by Google in its markeplace, so users can distinguished that from the rest in terms of security and quality. In that way, as users will have their preferences in safety and quality, app developers will follow, they would rather be submitted to Google's control, than going on their own. Namely, put the app in Google's distribution channel than putting that in their own.

I guess the above development trend is possible, time will ultimately tell. Anyway, for being an iOS user myself. If what I guess come true, iOS will have a tough fight with Android. So, what I guess Apple has to to do is to lock in as many iOS users as quickly as possible, so it makes it even harder and costly to switch ecosystem down the road. It is what Apple is doing it now, but I think they need to continue with bigger effort, particularly in the first 2 years of their upcoming push of the 'iTV' market.

By the way, the reason I've the above thoughts are coming from reading the following article:

IDC Appcelerator survey reveals what app developers love and hate the most

International Data Corporation (IDC), in partnership with mobile platform company Appcelerator, announced results of a global survey of Appcelerator developers on Tuesday, The survey created a detailed profile of developers' outlook on the market, with a particular focus on development for enterprise.
At a high level, the survey showed that developers believe Apple is leading the charge in the enterprise mobile deployment; see Android only as a consumer opportunity; are excited about remote cloud service integration; and are cautiously optimistic about Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets; but see Windows Phone as disappointing.

iOS in Enterprise
A significant 53.2 percent of developers believe Apple iOS will "win" in the enterprise market, versus 37.3 percent of developers who believe Google's Android platform will. The most common reason for this belief is the already regular adoption of the iPad as a tool by both executives and workers. Also noted are the IT challenges of dealing with Android fragmentation and potential malware. Lastly, the survey found that enterprise developers question the value of Android deployment outside of traditional business verticals, such as in machine to machine communications.

They want Windows 8 to be good, but...
Most developers are polled as being cautiously optimistic about Windows 8, and find Microsoft's Metro UI to be especially compelling. An impressive one-third of all developers say that they are very interested in Windows 8 tablets. Yet devs have voiced concerns about the move to ARM platforms with Windows RT tablets. Developers, the IDC report notes, have distinct needs when porting ARM-based mobile apps to x86-based devices like Windows 8 tablets, which include the ability to support consistent user experiences and the ability to reuse as much code as possible, with tools to assist porting between architectures. If Microsoft can not provide this, Windows on ARM might be a bad venture for them.

Windows Phone *yawn*
Another hard fact from this report is that developer interest in Windows Phone has dropped sharply. The amount of developers "very interested" in Windows Phone has dropped from 37.0 percent in first quarter of 2012 to 25.0 percent in the second quarter of 2012. This was not unexpected, given disappointing WP7 handset sales to date and Nokia's recently reported competitive challenges. But they might have wiggle room to turn it around based upon the loss of developer favor for Android. In any case, turning around that sharp drop will take massive efforts on Microsoft's part.

The cloud is crystal clear
Mobile developers are committed to the cloud, and 83 percent of all developers in the survey plan to use cloud services in some capacity for their applications. For back end deployment, 50.4 percent of developers say they will use Apple's iCloud, and 49.1 percent say they will use Amazon's cloud platform. Microsoft's Azure trails with somewhat colder interest; yet another sign of Microsoft's weak mobile presence.

Tools of the trade
The survey reveals that two thirds of mobile application developers use multiple platform development tools to build apps now. This is mostly due to the sheer number of mobile operating systems in use. Most developers do not have the resources to develop a different version of their application for multiple platforms, so finding an all-purpose development toolset is paramount.
Therefore, significant momentum has been made for mobile HTML5-based apps that can be used on any platform. Using HTML5 allows for easy development of cross-platform apps that still support native push notifications, social integration, and authentication for cloud services.

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