London: There are a lot of things coming for smarphone enthusiasts from the arrival of the world’s first 8-core handset – the ZTE Apache, apparently – to the fate of perpetually beleaguered Canadian manufacturer RIM and its forthcoming BlackBerry 10 platform in 2013 but the most awaiting thing is Samsung Galaxy S4, the successor of the South Korean firm’s Galaxy S3.
The Galaxy S3, first released in May 2012, is well into its life-cycle, so it’s only natural that S4 rumours are becoming more and more substantive by the day.
The Samsung Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3 would have a flexible OLED 1080p HD displays, rumour says.
“Foldable, rollable, wearable and more, [and] will allow for a high degree of durability through their use of a plastic substrate that is thinner, lighter and more flexible than… conventional LCD technology,” a preventative of the South Korean firm explained to PC Advisor.
Several release date rumuors for the S4 have been published, but the representatives of the South Korean firm have denied the veracity of all rumuors.
However, sparking speculation, Samsung has revealed the dates for its annual Forum and promised “major announcements”.
Specification (rumours) :
The Korea TImes claims to have been made privy to a substantial Galaxy S4 specification leak, which say a 5 inch device sporting an impressive 1,920 x 1,080 pixel ‘Super LCD 3′ display at a mind-boggling 445 ppi, coated with Corning Gorilla Glass 2.
Further speculations about the Galaxy S4 are the smartphone will use the 13MP sensor, 2GB RAM and a quad-core processor Cortex-A15 processor clocked at 2GHz.
Hint from Samsung:
An official has told Korea Times reported on condition of anonymity, “Samsung is ready to unveil the next Galaxy smartphone, the Galaxy S4, at early next year’s mobile world congress (MWC) in the Spanish city of Barcelona.”
Bango’s partnership with Telstra to offer carrier billing, follows similar moves made by US and European network operators. Telefonica’s BlueVia platform has provided operator-billing for Google Play in Spain and Germany since Q3 2012. Telenor has also partnered with BlueVia to provide further support for operator billing. Verizon Wireless also recently became the last of the top four US operators to launch its carrier billing when its service went live on 31 October 2012 on Google Play.
The rise in operators offering carrier billing services underscores a growing effort from both application store owners and mobile network operators to offer alternative payment options, increase conversion rates, and utilize new billing platforms to monetise and enhance the end-user experience. Globally, payment providers and application store owners (Bango, RIM, Nokia) report 1x – 3x times revenue growth with carrier billing versus credit cards. With carrier billing platforms in place, the role of network operators shifts to address the larger connected mobile ecosystem of merchants, developers and customers.
The move is a positive one for Google, which has been improving its ability to monetise Android content throughout 2012. IHS research indicates that while Google Play still generates lower content revenue per addressable device, it is starting to close the gap on Apple’s iOS App Store. Verizon’s recent move to support billing for Google Play at the same time as it announced the closure of its own application store, illustrates how in many countries operators are recognizing the reality of their new role in the mobile content ecosystem. As operator’s own content services decline, the ability to provide billing support for other stores will be a key way for them to retain some stake in the mobile content business.
Samsung Electronics’ new CEO called for the company to
redouble its focus on software, which could hint at a move away from Android and toward its own
proprietary operating system.
Samsung has long desired to push its own integrated hardware
and software experience, investing in its Bada operating system and
selling devices in select markets. But the popularity of Android, which
powers its most successful smartphone and tablet
devices, including its flagship Galaxy
S III phone, means the company can’t exactly quit the
Samsung has been steadily investing in its own proprietary
software, an initiative that new CEO Kwon Oh-hyun fully supports.
In his inaugural speech, Kwon said the company needs to have
particular focus on serving new customer experiences by strengthening
its software capabilities, user experience, and design, according to
A completely integrated product would allow Samsung to have
full control over every detail of the device, and wouldn’t leave it so
dependent on an outside company for the latest software. In addition,
its own platform would allow it to stand apart from a sea of devices
running on the same software.
The ideal scenario for such a model, of course, is Apple,
which builds its own hardware and software with iOS. On the flip side,
companies such have Research In Motion, Palm, and Nokia have struggled
with their own proprietary software. Palm has largely disappeared,
while Nokia switched to Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system,
with the struggling RIM the only one attempting to stand apart with its
BlackBerry operating system.
The pressure is likely on for Samsung to develop its own
operating system now that Google has officially acquired Motorola
Mobility, which means its partner will also be a competitor with the
potential to access earlier versions of Android. Google has said it
would continue to be neutral when it comes to Android, while Samsung
has said it is looking forward to the legal cover Motorola would bring
to the Android community.
Privately, Samsung executives have said they expect to compete
with Google on the device front, making it increasingly important to
differentiate. While Samsung already customizes Android a bit with
TouchWiz, the company could do more to veer away from the standard
Android user experience.
Whether that’s a good thing is unclear. Many Android fans
prefer a “stock” experience, which leaves the software alone. But
handset manufacturers believe they need to set themselves apart to
avoid getting lost in the sea of generic-looking devices.
Samsung could take it a step further and move toward its own
operating system. As the largest smartphone manufacturer in the
world–outselling even Apple–it certainly has the heft and reach to
pull it off.
Samsung Electronics’ new CEO called for the company to redouble its focus on software, which could hint at a move away from Android and toward its own proprietary operating system.
Samsung has long desired to push its own integrated hardware and software experience, investing in its Bada operating system and selling devices in select markets. But the popularity of Android, which powers its most successful smartphone and tablet devices, including its flagship Galaxy S III phone, means the company can’t exactly quit the platform.
Samsung has been steadily investing in its own proprietary software, an initiative that new CEO Kwon Oh-hyun fully supports.
In his inaugural speech, Kwon said the company needs to have particular focus on serving new customer experiences by strengthening its software capabilities, user experience, and design, according to the Wall Street Journal.
A completely integrated product would allow Samsung to have full control over every detail of the device, and wouldn’t leave it so dependent on an outside company for the latest software. In addition, its own platform would allow it to stand apart from a sea of devices running on the same software.
The ideal scenario for such a model, of course, is Apple, which builds its own hardware and software with iOS. On the flip side, companies such have Research In Motion, Palm, and Nokia have struggled with their own proprietary software. Palm has largely disappeared, while Nokia switched to Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system, with the struggling RIM the only one attempting to stand apart with its BlackBerry operating system.
The pressure is likely on for Samsung to develop its own operating system now that Google has officially acquired Motorola Mobility, which means its partner will also be a competitor with the potential to access earlier versions of Android. Google has said it would continue to be neutral when it comes to Android, while Samsung has said it is looking forward to the legal cover Motorola would bring to the Android community.
Privately, Samsung executives have said they expect to compete with Google on the device front, making it increasingly important to differentiate. While Samsung already customizes Android a bit with TouchWiz, the company could do more to veer away from the standard Android user experience.
Whether that’s a good thing is unclear. Many Android fans prefer a “stock” experience, which leaves the software alone. But handset manufacturers believe they need to set themselves apart to avoid getting lost in the sea of generic-looking devices.
Samsung could take it a step further and move toward its own operating system. As the largest smartphone manufacturer in the world — outselling even Apple — it certainly has the heft and reach to pull it off.
Research In Motion’s new BlackBerry software looks cool, but I don’t have high hopes for it.
BlackBerry 10, which is slated to start showing up on RIM smartphones later this year, has some innovative new features that will set it apart from Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.
But the update is years late, and the new software is not far-and-away superior to iOS or Android. Perhaps worst of all, RIM is ignoring the needs of current BlackBerry customers by failing to provide them with an easy transition.
We’ve seen this play before, and we know how it ends: In disaster.
The BlackBerry software has long needed an overhaul. Compared with Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7, RIM’s OS is ugly and difficult to use. It was designed before touch-screen phones were the norm and, though modified to work on those devices, looks and feels jerry-built.
By contrast, the new OS, which I got a glimpse of earlier this month at a meeting with RIM representatives, looks and feels contemporary. It’s designed from the ground up for large-display, touch-screen devices, with large icons and full-screen, well-designed applications. Taking a page from Microsoft, it includes program tiles that can act like widgets, showing updated information such as the current weather or stock price.
One neat feature, called Flow UI, allows users to view alerts, such as new email messages, by swiping from one corner. By swiping
further, they can directly switch to the application that sent the alert. Flow also allows users to switch back and forth between their inbox and an individual message by simply swiping. The system is intuitive to use and an improvement on similar features found in iOS and Android.
BlackBerry 10 has other compelling features. Notably, its camera application allows users to instantly improve photos of friends or family members whose eyes are closed. The app both recognizes faces and starts recording images before you press the shutter button. If the face in your photo doesn’t look right, you can replace it immediately with the same face captured instants before.
But as innovative as these features may be, I don’t think they’ll save RIM, which has seen its market share and sales slide sharply in recent years thanks to competition from Android and Apple.
Partly that’s because BlackBerry 10 is really late to the party. It’s been five years since Apple released the first iPhone and revolutionized the smartphone market. It’s been nearly four years since the first Android phones hit store shelves.
RIM should have come out with a revamped BlackBerry software three or four years ago, before Android and iOS took over the market. Now, at best, its going to be scrounging for third place with Microsoft, whose own updated phone software still hasn’t caught on with the general public despite coming out nearly two years ago.
BlackBerry 10 is not just too late but also too little; it isn’t a big enough advance in the fast-moving smartphone market. Apple’s iOS and Android took off in part because they were vast improvements on what preceded them, the first-generation of smartphone software from the likes of Nokia, Palm and, yes, RIM.
BlackBerry 10 is a big improvement on the old BlackBerry software, but isn’t revolutionary or compelling enough to lure consumers back to BlackBerry from their iPhones or Android devices.
So that leaves RIM with trying to retain its existing BlackBerry customers. With some 77 million active BlackBerry users worldwide, that’s a significant customer base. But RIM isn’t making it easy for them to stick around.
Despite sharing a name, the BlackBerry 10 is unrelated to previous versions of the BlackBerry software and won’t run older BlackBerry apps. Consumers who have invested in BlackBerry programs face the prospect of buying all new ones if they upgrade to a BlackBerry 10 phone. And companies that have designed a suite of BlackBerry applications for their employees could soon find those being obsolete.
In either situation, current customers are almost certainly going to ask if it’s worth it to switch to BlackBerry 10. If they are faced with the prospect of changing to a whole new platform anyway, they almost certainly will consider switching instead to one of the market leaders: iOS or Android.
It’s amazing to me that RIM is forsaking its older BlackBerry customers in this way, especially after seeing what’s happened to Palm and Nokia. Like RIM, both of those companies replaced their aging smartphone operating systems with new and improved ones that were years late and incompatible. The result: Their older customers abandoned them. Palm ended up in history’s dustbin, and Nokia, which last week announced it was laying off another 10,000 workers, is in danger of heading the same way.
With more than $2 billion in cash, bankruptcy for RIM seems highly unlikely in the near term, but these are troubling times for Waterloo, Ontario, the town of 100,000 that was transformed by the BlackBerry into Canada’s Silicon Valley. RIM is Canada’s most valuable technology company, an international icon so prestigious that founder Mike Lazaridis and its other driving force, Jim Balsillie, are on an official government list of national heroes, alongside the likes of Alexander Graham Bell.
Yet, here we have good ol’ IDC stepping up this week with their latest predictions for smartphone operating system market share til 2016.
To be fair, IDC’s (and Gartner’s, and Forrester’s, etc.) forecasts do have more than stats-o-tainment value for those of us who check Techmeme five times daily.
For developers, it helps decide where to invest their time and skills in, and could mean the difference between a healthy income and unemployment several years down the road.
For app makers, it can mean the difference between breaking even and breakaway profits.
Ditto for hardware vendors.
And for enterprises, forecasts like this guide CIOs in making their long-range infrastructure and hiring plans.
And just to refresh your memory, here is IDC’s predictions from 15 months ago, for comparison.
Here are my takeaways with the enterprise in mind:
1) Multiple platforms are here to stay. Companies that are supporting 3-4 platforms today – BlackBerry, iOS, Android, and maybe Windows Mobile if they’re heavy into field service – but wish they weren’t will find no relief, according to IDC’s forecasts. Four years from today, they’ll be supporting Android, iOS, Windows Phone and (probably) BlackBerries.
Enterprises must not only seek out MDM tools that strongly manage all platforms, but also Mobile Application Development Platforms (MADPs) that allow you to write once, run anywhere on the OSes you want to use, with minimum rewrite. Even better would be an overarching platform that synchronizes MDM with MADP to give enterprises maximum control over their mobile infrastructure. Bottom line, you need to adapt as the days of the Windows/BlackBerry duopoly are over.
2) Forget IDC’s wording, Android isn’t “peaking.” According to IDC’s own figures, Android shipments this year will be 1.1 billion phones. That will grow to 1.22 billion Android smartphones in 2016. In other words, Android has neither stalled nor flattened out.
3) Even if Windows Phone has caught up to iOS by 2016, iOS will still be ahead. Even as Windows Phone matches iOS in 2016 shipments, its overall installed base of users will still lag for several smartphone refresh cycles (each of which is about two years). Also, IDC expects most of Windows Phone’s gains to come in emerging markets with Nokia’s help. Nothing wrong with that, except that mobile developers and apps still come from and cater to the developed markets – iOS’s core strength.
4) The big loser in IDC’s revised predictions isn’t iOS (or Symbian), it’s RIM. Whereas IDC once saw RIM still holding 13.7% share of the market by 2015, it now sees it only holding 6% this year, and 5.9% in 2016. “The gulf between the BlackBerry OS and its primary competition will widen over the forecast as the mobile phone market becomes increasingly software/app-oriented and the ‘bring your own device’ enterprise trend proliferates,” says IDC.
5) The forecasts, ultimately, don’t matter to CIOs as much as they would’ve 5-10 years ago. I see a trio of reasons: 1) the short tenure of today’s CIO means many won’t be around when 2016 rolls around; 2) the emergence of BYOD lets organizations avoid having to budget tens of millions of dollars in capital expenditures for mobile hardware; 3) long-range forecasts are less reliable due to the dynamicism of the mobile market. Think of tablets, which have only been around 2.5 years old. Not to be nihilistic, but any forecast today need to be taken with a handful, not a pinch of salt.
If you want to hear more about where enterprise mobility might be in four years, I’d suggest checking out the Breakfast with Gamechangers Internet radio show next Wednesday June 13 at 11 am ET/8 am PT. SAP President and Corporate Officer Sanjay Poonen will be interviewed by host Bonnie D. Graham.
The latest study from comScore reveals that the U.S. marketshare of Google’s Android mobile operating system dipped slightly over April while Apple’s iOS-driven iPhone continued its slow upward climb.
Data from research firm’s MobiLens service showed Apple maintaining a steady forward pace over the month of April amid a growing U.S. smartphone market, while Android exhibited a small drop in share during the same period.
The survey polled 30,000 mobile subscribers and found that during the three months ending in April, Android remained the top U.S. platform and managed to gain 2.2 points to end the period with a 50.8 percent market share. While Google’s OS saw an overall gain over the period, the platform saw a month-to-month decline as it stood with a 51 percent share at the end of March after rising 3.7 percent, a relatively steep bump considering the saturated marketplace.
Number two Apple finished the three-month period up 1.9 percent with a 31.4 percent share of the U.S. market. The iPhone rose a modest 0.7 points in April and was one of the two top-five mobile platforms to gain marketshare. Nokia’s Windows Phone helped the fledgling platform eke out 0.1 points of progress while RIM and Symbian continued to tumble losing 0.7 percent and 0.1 percent, respectively.
Over 107 million people owned smartphones at the end of April representing a 6 point rise since January. Also up over the three months ending in April was downloaded app usage which enjoyed a 1.6 percent rise while mobile browser use saw a 0.5 point bump. Texting suffered a 0.5 percent drop, but an overwhelming 74.1 percent of smartphone owners still use the service.
Nokia could be considered the grandfather to the modern cellphone. The company obviously owns a lot of patents and receives royalties from those who make smartphones. Heck, patent royalties net Nokia €8 per every iPhone sold. Now they want a little something out of Android.
Nokia is having none of it, however, by saying that Google’s “suggestion” is “wrong.” How is Google wrong? Nokia says that both themselves and Microsoft are different companies with different portfolios and strategies. That being said, Nokia was quick to point out that Android did infringe on several Nokia patents.
I could take Nokia at their word if it wasn’t for the fact that they are so intertwined with Microsoft at the moment. As you most likely know, Nokia is Microsoft’s strongest partner in pushing the Windows Phone 7 operating system. The Nokia Lumia 900, which runs Windows Phone 7, was even touted by Siri as being the best smartphone on the market.
It’s up to the courts to decide whether or not Microsoft and Nokia are trying to double-team Google, but it does seem awfully coincidental. This on top of reports that both companies transferred over 1,000 patents over to a well-known patent troll just reeks of everybody’s favorite waste of court resources – patent lawsuits.
Google isn’t the first company working with Android that Nokia has targeted. Earlier this month, the company filed suit against RIM, HTC and ViewSonic over their respective products. The patents that Nokia claimed these companies infringed include such basic smartphone features including app stores, multitasking and dynamic menus. It almost seems like Nokia just owns patents on what makes a cell phone, well, a cell phone.
Maybe Nokia should patent its phone use as a hammer. It could then target HTC’s newest product, the HTC One X, over its ability to perform as a hammer as well. I’m all for protecting property rights when people legitimately copy a company’s hard work, but the above example should help illustrate just how ridiculous these patent lawsuits can get.
We’ll keep following this latest attack on Android. Nokia has a better chance of winning than Oracle ever did, so it will be interesting to watch. We may eventually see Google paying out €8 per device that licenses Android technology.
You’re building a tablet app, and you need to make decisions on what platforms to support. Here’s how to pick the tablet platform that’s right for you … and will result in the most sales of your app.
The choices are well-known:
The acknowledged market leader for scale and monetization
Android The strong contender for second place, but with fragmentation concerns
Android under the skin, but walled off by Amazon, with its own app store
The dark horse: an intriguing option, but scale and penetration are open questions
The dead horse?
The one ring to rule them all … but perhaps a little lost in a deep cave in the Misty Mountains
For some people, the choice might be obvious. But sometimes there can be market advantages to targeting a less-obvious platform. Let’s look at the alternatives.
Why you would pick iOS
Apple’s iOS is the acknowledged leader in tablet sales. According to Gartner, the iPad will destroy the competition with 61 percent of sales in 2012. So it’s pretty obvious why you’d develop for iPad: that’s where the users are. Not only are the most people on iPad right now, but the types of people are attractive to app developers. Simply put: they have money and they’re not afraid to spend it. That’s an attractive user base.
Also, there’s very good infrastructure in the iOS ecosystem: coding tools, developer ecosystem, publishing and distribution paths, and monetization options.
On the downside, there is a lot of noise in the iOS world. With more than 500,000 apps for iPhone and 200,000 for iPad, your app faces some major challenges getting noticed. That said, if you are a major brand or have deep pockets, you can likely break free from the pack.
Why you would pick Android
If iPad is the leader, Android is the very strong contender … and there’s recent history to suggest that Android may not always trail iOS in the tablet market. After all, Android leads in the smartphone market, after initially trailing the iPhone. According to the same Gartner study cited above, Android will make up about 32 percent of tablet sales in 2012, growing to 37 percent in 2016.
So Android has a very significant number of users. A third of a large market is still a pretty large potential audience, and Android is expected to account for about 35 million tablets this year. (For a caveat about these numbers, see Kindle Fire below.)
There are other reasons to choose Android for your tablet app. There’s less noise in the market — fewer dedicated tablet apps — which means that yours has a better chance to be seen. In addition, if your app is well-designed and user-friendly, it will stand out in stark contrast to other Android apps, which, unfortunately, largely suck.
But also, if you want more control of what you’re developing and how to market it, the fact that there are multiple Android markets and fewer ecosystem constraints mean that you have more freedom in how to build and market your app.
Why you would pick Kindle Fire
In the Android section above, I listed a caveat, and for a good reason: the Kindle Fire accounts for easily 50 percent of all Android tablet sales. That’s one reason for breaking it out from the larger Android pack, but the more important reason is that Amazon pre-loads a Kindle-fire-specific app store on all devices it ships. The Amazon app store makes Kindle Fire a cross between Google and Apple: Android inside, but with an an Apple style, curated, send-us-your-apps-for-approval market.
That said, it’s hard to ignore two things: the sheer number of Fires being sold, and Amazon’s amazing ability to move product. With Kindle Fire users making up large percentages of overall tablet web traffic, it’s clear the devices are in use.
Pick Kindle if you’re an Android developer and you want another sales opportunity for your app, or if you think that your app will monetize better in Amazon’s garden. Content apps would seem to be a good bet with Amazon’s core user base, and some developers see opportunity in the platform.
One caveat for Kindle Fire: be aware that Amazon does implement some questionable marketing tactics which could affect your app’s sales … such as offering it for free.
Why you would pick Windows 8
Windows 8 Tablet is a true dark horse: Currently, there are almost no sales. However, HP is restarting its tablet adventure with Window 8, and Gartner says that Microsoft will move about five million units in 2012.
That number won’t make any developers jump for joy, but Microsoft has a history of being persistent, and it’s got the largest installed base of them all with the Windows PC market. As those customers upgrade to the latest version of Windows, there’s a good chance many of them will move to Windows 8 on tablets, and you might want to be there, waiting for them, when the market takes off. On top of that, the Windows 8 platform, whether on phone or tablet, is definitely an interesting and different take on interfaces of the future.
This is a tough one. Projected sales for BlackBerry tablets are even lower than Windows 8 tablets, at under three million. And while the underlying operating system, QNX, is geekishly interesting, those numbers will not make your finance department happy.
The one reason to pick BlackBerry: similar to Microsoft, RIM may finance your development as it struggles desperately to remain relevant in the tablet space. But don’t be shocked if the platform disappears under your feet before the end of 2012.
Why you would pick HTML5
I wasn’t sure I would include HTML5 in this list, as it’s not a platform in the same sense as the above ecosystems. However, it deserves a mention.
Pick HTML5 if you believe that the app explosion we’re currently seeing in mobile is a passing fad, and that the power of the internet will eventually triumph over each niche ecosystem.
Theoretically, all the tablet platforms listed above support HTML5 applications. But while in theory there is no difference between theory and reality … in reality there is. Be aware that there are differing levels of support for HTML5.
Perhaps worse, there’s no defined distribution, marketing, or monetization model. But if you can solve those problems, you can sell your services to just about anyone: tablet users, web users, even smartphone users.
Making your selection
Ultimately, the platform you choose will determine how you build your app, and how you market it. Most importantly, it will determine who you can sell it to. Almost certainly you will choose, either initially or later in your app’s life cycle, a multi-platform strategy.
Picking the first platform well is your key to success.