Android 2.2 Brings Mobility to the Mobile World

May 27, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Technology 

Today Google launched Android 2.2 which, in this humble blogger’s opinion is a leap frog from anything else out there.  Besides the obvious smarter smartphone capabilities like the photo gallery, customizable home screen, better exchange support, etc. , it turns your phone into a real mobility powerhouse.  Hotspot and enhanced bluetooth make your phone a gateway to mobility for all other stuff you may want to carry.  I know what you’re thinking, PalmPre had that already.  But Android is mainstream, supported by multiple vendors, and the 2nd best selling mobile OS (after RIM’s blackberry, not iPhone).

The hotspot feature that essentially turns your phone into a Starbucks without the coffee – WiFi hotspot using 3G as back-haul.  3G may not have enough capacity, but remember 4G is coming to a city near you.  The point is, my phone becomes my only truly connected device via the wireless wide area network, with a single data plan that allows any other device that I might carry to connect to the Internet through it, without extra payments.  As lame as the unconnected iPad is, it is the cheapest out there (before the gPad comes out).  My Android2.2 smartphone  will make it connected and I do not have to pay extra data.  With my laptop I can browse the web, download a book, send email, you name it, even if I don’t have a broadband adapter.  My phone is the broadband adapter.

Enhanced bluetooth means that I can now have an ergonomically perfect set of devices to manage my mobile life.  I can carry my phone in my pocket or briefcase and use my headset or car kit to dial, answer an make all phone calls.  I can even play music through my car’s fancy audio without plugging it in.  You can envision new devices that use these capabilities to get connected.  A camera, for example can upload to Picassa or YouTube directly without having to connect directly.  In-car GPS or portable can also connect and get faster first fixes, maps from your phone or PC, etc.

Again, this is hardly new, but the combination of all this features in Android 2.2 brings true mobility to the mainstream, and will definitely put a dent to iPhone’s reign, that is until Apple decides to add these features too.  The question that remains open is how will wireless service providers embrace a single data plan?  Today they all charge for “tethered mode” which is really what we all use in substitution of a broadband card; we don’t buy a card, but we still have to pay for the extra data plan.  If carriers do away with this extra charge, they will create an explosion of data traffic that they are most likely not ready for.  Sprint in the US has created a plan that allows all this for a fixed rate.  Sprint also has the only 4G phone available today and with its partnership with Clearwire they have a shot to regain market share even if it’s only to geeks like us.  Soon others will follow, though.

Soon 4G, better back-haul from your wireless service provider, and an Android 2.2 (or equivalent feature set) can make every device a connected device.  The ubiquitously connected world is getting a push.

Enjoy.

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Couch Potato Meets Herman Miller Potato

May 21, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Business, Technology 

Google strikes again!  Now coming to a TV near you. In a much anticipated and with not too much fanfare, Silicon Valley’s fave (at least my fave) unveils TV plans during Google Developer’s Conference in San Fransisco.  There have been several trials, all failed. Bill Gates had predicted the convergence decades ago and with bandwidth becoming more and more available, it had to happen.  Not a surprising move but an interesting approach. 2 of the “three screens” converge.

In an unprecedented multi-partner new product category, Google – providing Andriod OS and Chrome browser, Sony – manufacturing the TV, Intel – providing processors, and Logitech keyboard and remote, WebTV is reborn.  But this time it is a TV that browses the Web, wait, no, a computer that plays TV, no wait, both.  The promise is that: both.  Based on the TV you’re watching, you’ll see ads, tweets, references, blogs, etc. that you can click and navigate to.  Google’s business model fits right in.

Straight forward, right? Not quite, much better.

The TV experience is passive.  You sit down pick a channel (or 17) and watch.  The Web is active: click, click, click.  TV works on a schedule (slightly disrupted by TiVo and other DVRs) and the Web is always available.  TV is to pass time, an entertainment.  The Web is to waste, sorry to spend time, searching, learning, and finding amazing content (like this blog); there’s a sense of discovery in every click.  TV is a family activity, at the very least to avoid talking.  The Web is individual.  What Google seems to want to offer is the Web experience for TV content.  All shows, all movies, all channels, all sports, all reality shows, all news; all of it ready to be found.  In other words, and infinite DVR with Google’s amazing search technology.  Pretty cool, and pretty disruptive for cable and satellite operators, especially with the newer generations that waste, I mean spend much more time online that in front of the TV.

To this humble blogger, these disruptions are what make radical changes in the way consumers behave. This will do to TV content what  iTunes and Rhapsody did to music, Expedia and Orbitz did to travel agencies, or Amazon did to retail.  A totally new way to find and enjoy professionally  produced content (I know you’re thinking “unlike this blog”): on your own schedule.  No more “I forgot to TiVo the game”.  The beauty of these disruptions is that they grow the pie and lengthen the tail.  In other words: more is consumed and there  is room for new suppliers.

Whether the two sets of habits converge nicely is yet to be seen.  But one thing is sure: multi-million dollar TV advertising campaigns will go the way of the LP: a distant memory of other times.

Enjoy.

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iPad, gPad, or MaxiPad?

May 12, 2010 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Business, Technology 

Well, it seems that the world is ponying up for what I call the third device unlike I had posted before.  Verizon appears to be working closely with Google on a better Pad.  At the same time Google has been posting videos of how Chrome OS will run on a tablet (I like tablet or slate better than pad for obvious reasons).  The thing is “with Verizon” not “supporting Verizon”.    My fellow reader (singular) this could really challenge the emperor’s Pad.

Let me tell you why I think that’s the case:  As lame as the whole category is in this blogger’s humble opinion, an unconnected (i.e. no cellular support) tablet is the lame of the lame.  It brings me back to the 90’s when you had to go home or to your office to get internet access.  Sure, the 3G iPad is about to debut, but @ $600+ i really think the market will be limited.  Now, if our friends in Verizon Wireless agree to pardon the Nexus One debacle and decide to subsidize the gPad, imagine what will that do to the price.  Neither Verizon, nor Google have to make money with the hardware, which really does a job to Jobs (sorry, couldn’t help it).  Estimates of the iPad cost put it at $250 – $300 US, add a 3G (or maybe a 4G – ooooh – radio), we could be seeing a street price in the $400’s.  Still hefty for a useless device, but less than $600+ for the emperor’s Pad (ePad?  now I’m pushing it).

But wait, there’s more!  Chrome Os is the word on the street, not Android.  What that may mean is a real processor capable of Flash (not Flash lite) and real browsing.  Yes, my friend, I believe it will be x86 based which means that every website you can go to on Chrome today – which is virtually any website known to mankind and robotkind – is accessible to your gPad.  Not even Palm’s (future HP’s MaxiPad) running WebOs can do that!  Apps anybody?  Yeah, sure, real apps with Java or the like, not fake widgets that look pixelated.  Content?  Did I mention it is Google?

So there it is.  As much as I hate the category, a subsidized x86 based tablet may be the ticket to ride.  BTW, Adsense must be having a ball with this post!  I’m sure the ads are funny albeit unrelated. Do comment.

Enjoy.

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iDon’t Flash, say the Steves

May 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Technology 

To start off with a cliché, it is true that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”  But to have the Steves ( Balmer -Microsoft’s CEO and Jobs – you know who he is) agree on bashing a competitor is unheard of, at least for this humble blogger.  Apple has been criticized not only for not supporting Adobe Flash video player in the iPhone, iPod, and iPad (i’Ve had it with Apple’s naming) but for banning apps that have their roots on it.  To make matters worse, Silicon Valley’s more revered deity sent out a letter saying that Flash sucks – battery, that is, as well as making devices crash and causing other problems.  Balmer agrees.  They both are in favor of the open standard video version called html5 video.

Hey, we’re all for standards, even better if they are open, but is it realistic to essentially ban all Flash designed websites from your mobile iProducts?  Microsoft definitelly adds some muscle to the fight, but Shantanu Narayen (Adobe’s CEO) got there first.  An estimated  70% of websites with video use Flash.  It has a great advantage over html5: it exists today.  It has also a huge  installed base,  works across browsers, and makes it easier for non-geek developers to use.  The question is: will the the explosion of browsers (especially mobile) makes an open standard needed even more? Indeed, but it will not happen overnight, even with the Steves’ weight behind it.

Claiming that Flash crashed devices and drains battery is a bit too extreme, unrealistic, and quite frankly arrogant.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.  But when you consider that the iPad has a 6000 mAh battery compared to the 1200 mAh battery in the iPhone 3GS sure, I’ll give you 10 hours of video too!  Simply put, battery problems are solved with batteries.  You want more battery life? put a bigger battery in.  Granted, it drives the device’s weight, but so does the display. Palm Pre, RIM, Windows Mobile (and soon Android) devices that support Flash lite are roughly the same weight than the iPhone, and crash just as often. Reality is, Flash provides the programmer control over the video experience and that makes Jobs angry.  He wants to control it all!  As per Microsoft’s motive?  Well, it just sounded like a good idea to blame computer crashes on somebody else’s software for a change.

Flash’s biggest limitation is the lack of mobile platform support.  It is a heavy weight platform that so far only works well on “big” desktop OS’s.  There is a Flash Lite out there but it is not 100% compatible with all Flash’s features.  But that will have to change soon, if Narayen wants to stay on top.   But then again, with more powerful processors and graphics coming to a mobile device near you will make this limitation a thing of the past.  In any case, it is this bloggers opinion that html5 video will eventually take over video on the internet.  The timing is the unknown.  But I don’t think one should start to short Adobe (ADBE), at least not because of Flash.  Au contraire mon fraire, this makes them a pricey acquisition target for cash rich software companies.

Enjoy.

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