Monday, May 17, 2010

Say NO to custom Android Interfaces

One of the big problems facing android right now is market fragmentation. It seems that every android phone you see is running a different version of the operating system. Here in New Zealand there are two android phones available through the local providers, one is the LG GW620f and the Sony Ericsson X10i. Both of these phones are running the outdated 1.6 version of android. When Google is up to version 2.1 with 2.2 about to be released.

So what's the problem with this? Well the problem is that users are missing out on a whole bunch of new features and on a lot of applications in the market which are not available for version 1.6.

The reason that the Sony Ericsson phone is still on 1.6 according to their blog is that they have made their own custom user interface. When Google releases a new version of android Sony has to test the new version with there custom interface and fix any problems which might result from the changes. They also need to add the ability to use the new features which Google has added. And while they are doing all this you the customer misses out. You miss out on the new features and you can't install the new applications.

So if having their own custom interface makes it so hard to upgrade in a timely manor then why do they bother. The reason is that marketing theory says that your product needs a 'point of difference' in order to 'differentiate' it from the competition. HTC has their Sense UI, Motorola has their motoblur.

The problem is that this marketing theory does not take into consideration the huge disadvantage that your product has in the market place when it is out of date. How big of a disadvantage well people in the know just wont buy your product. And those who do will very soon become upset and disgruntled.

Windows has faced a similar problem with OEMs. The problem is that OEM's try to 'add value' (another marketing buzz word) by including all sorts of crap ware applications on their computers which are for sale. I once set up a windows net book for a friend. It came crammed full of trial versions of all sorts of security applications so much so that it took forever to load and when I opened the internet browser over half the screen was taken up with the tool bars that the OEM has pre installed for me. The area that was left for actually browsing the internet was so small as to make using it almost impossible.

That is why apple has been so successful. Because they control both the Software and the hardware they can prevent this kind of crap from happening.

So what can you as the consumer do about android market fragmentation? Firstly don't by android phones with custom user interfaces. Don't buy android phones pre installed with stuff that the manufacture decided adds value.

What you want is plan vanilla standard android. All the OEM will have to do with new releases of android is test it against your hardware and then push it out.

There is a name for a phone with plan android on it. It's call Google experience. You know when you get a Google experience phone that it will not be full of crapware, and that it will be updated in a timely manor.

Currently the best Google experience phone is the Nexus One. This is sold and marketed by Google itself. And it gets upgrades rolled out as soon as they are available.

So don't buy an android phone with a custom UI, which is full of crapware. Get Android as Google intended it to be and ensure that you will never get left behind.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Why Apple hates flash

Following the much hyped announcement of the Apple iPad. The most talked about aspect of the device apart from the numerous jokes about feminine products, was not something that the device did or had but rather something that it didn't have. The much hyped Apple iPad does not support flash.

Steve Jobs claims that this is because adobe is lazy and flash is resource intensive and buggy.

However I have a different theory, something that fits much better with the philosophy of Apple.

Apple likes to control everything, they argue that the more control they have over the device the better your experience will be. And to a point they are correct apple has built a name for itself by creating easy to use, reliable and good looking products.

Apple also likes to make money, and in the end thats the reason they like most companies are in business. Did you know that apple takes a 30% cut out of every sale made through the app store. What that means is that apple has a vested interest in making sure users get there applications through the app store.

The web is full of flash applications, and each of those flash applications can be obtained on the web for free by anyone. Apple can not control what flash application you can use, its has no way of ensuring those applications conform to is design guidelines, meet its terms of service or do not compete with core functionality provide by the device, and most of all apple can not make money out of you using those flash applications. What apple can do is not support it.

I believe that if a company with the resource of apple really wanted flash on their device they would have it. I think the reality is they did not want it and did not believe they needed it.

What they did do however was underestimate the public backlash they would get by not providing it.

So why doesn't the ipad support flash? It because Apple wants you to get all your apps from the app store, which they control and which they make money from.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Nexus One vs IPhone

There have been lots of blog posts and reviews about the two phones, but most of them seems to skip over the huge difference in specs of the the two phones. So I have graphed the two phones so you all can get a real understand of the differences, no feelings, no spin just the hard facts.