Category: Android

Google's Mobile Woes: The Search Bar

With the exception of transactions, discovery is one of the best aspects of any business to get into. While both discovery and transaction are intermediary plays, the former tends to push much more volumes compared to the latter. Perfect examples of such companies are Paypal (transactions) and Google (discovery), with Paypal representing the transaction piece, while Google represents the discovery piece when it comes to information.
It is always interesting to watch people use a computer, more for the manner in which even really tuned-in folks use Google as a quasi-DNS service. Vast majority of users I have observed refuse to use the address bar in the browser (leveraging the browser history and suggestions) and will open up a Google search page and enter the domain name there. This places a disproportionate level of power in the hands of Google and it is also one of the reasons why the company is so powerful in the information game.
The problem for Google is that they can’t replicate that one-stop-shop experience on the mobile. Even on an Android phone, searching is not an activity that is done easily. On a computer, a good chunk of time is spent inside a browser. On a mobile, phone very little time is spent in a browser and vertical apps have little reason to include a generic search feature. In fact, it would be considered antithetical to how mobile apps are meant to be used.
It is not that Google has not tried. There is a persistent search bar in most Android devices and then there is the Google Now, but neither lends itself to extensive searching compared to what users do on a desktop. There’s also the mobile version of Chrome, which is an excellent little browser, but it needs some serious firepower (processing & network speeds) to do its magic and the experience is awful on lower-end phones. Considering all of that and looking at the manner in which mobile usage is skyrocketing, eclipsing the laptop/desktop usage growth, mobile search volumes must be considerable concern at Mountain View.
The problem is also that the mobile experience itself not a singular one, but one of groups of silos and is heavily push-oriented. Computers tend to be devices where you have to provide the context for the usage. Compared to mobiles, it is a very pull-driven experience. On the other hand, mobiles tend to push the context at you and the apps are increasingly becoming self-contained silos. It is almost like having a separate browser on the computer for each site you want to visit and almost none of them provide an easy way to search using Google from within the app. And therein lies the problem for Google.
As if none of these issues were not a problem already, the newer markets where mobiles growth is most explosive are where Google has little influence as an intermediary. There are hordes of people in countries like India where, for many, the first experience of the internet is not on a computer, but on a mobile device. And as it happens, this first experience also tends to be a WhatsApp or Facebook, cutting Google entirely out of the equation.
Thus, the problem for Google on mobile is not that vertical search will somehow eclipse horizontal search, but that access to horizontal search is a problem that is not going to go away. Mind you, this is the case when Google practically owns the mobile OS with the largest market share out there. What must be even more worrying for Google is that there is no easy way out of this problem. A user who spends 90% of her/his time on Line/Facebook/WhatsApp, won’t start searching in a browser for something as the context switch (apps than tabs) is inherently more expensive on mobile.
In a way, the tables are getting turned on Google on mobile as the app that gets the user’s attention majority of the time will hold all the cards in this game. Eventually, Google will have to wind up doing deals with the top 20 or more apps in each market to establish the distribution for search on mobile as it successfully has done on the desktop. Which can only mean one thing for app makers — more money in the days to come.

Filed under: Android, Mobile

Fix For Call Volume Bug In Moto G

The Moto G has been a fantastic phone so far, except for one small bug which becomes a big irritant. If the phone is used with a headset (wired or bluetooth) and you take it off, the call volume will drop to really low levels, making it hard to hear what is being said on the other side. A reboot usually fixes the problem, but that is not an ideal solution.
The other, simpler, fix is to reduce the volume while in call and then max it. What usually happens in a situation like this is that the user will only try to push the volume to the maximum (which the phone usually is at) than reduce it. To make the fix work, you have to first reduce the volume and then increase it, making it very likely that this is a software issue than a hardware one.
Update: Motorola has released an OTA update for the single SIM GSM version for this with the 174.44.1 update that fixes this bug. There is no word on when it will be rolled out to the other models.

Filed under: AndroidTagged with:

Moto G Review

Having now spent close to a month using the Moto G, I can now sum up the device in one word — fabulous. The device has not been officially launched in India. I was fortunate to have been gifted one by someone living the US and it cost the regular $199 retail there. If they manage to price it under Rs 12,000 (and closer to Rs. 10,000) in India, Motorola could have a winner on its hands.
DSC_0543What I like about the device:

  1. Battery life: I use location services during a major part of the day, which, previously, was a huge drain on Android devices. I am easily getting 24+ hours on a full charge and have never used the battery saver feature.
  2. Android Kitkat: The slight lag (more like a stutter than lag) that used to be there on even the high-end Android devices is gone. Even with 1GB RAM, the transitions are buttery smooth and comparable to iOS.
  3. Nearly-Stock Android: There are a couple of Moto-specific apps in there, but nothing that gets in your way. Rest is pure Android all the way.
  4. Price: You can pick up at least three of these babies at a price that is lesser than a Samsung S4 or an iPhone 5C.
  5. Main camera is pretty decent. Just remember not to shoot with it in low light.

What I don’t like:

  1. No external SD card support. I don’t store much media or click a zillion pics, but I’m already down to 9 GB left on the device.
  2. 1 GB of RAM.
  3. There’s a bug (not sure whether it is software or hardware) that can cause call volume to drop after using a wired or bluetooth headset. Can be fixed with a reboot, but annoying all the same.
  4. USB port is at the bottom of the phone. Never liked that positioning. It is a personal preference, though.

DSC_0552While I really like the device, you do need to keep in mind that I don’t fit the profile of the average smartphone user for the following reasons:

  1. Limited apps usage: I don’t use Facebook, Twitter, G+ and most other social networking apps. I do use Whatsapp and BBM, but they don’t seem to eat up as much battery and processing as the first three.
  2. I don’t game at all on the device. There’s a chess app that I keep for the odd rainy day, but have not used it more than twice or thrice in the past year.
  3. I don’t watch much video on the device other than the odd YouTube clip.
  4. Reading has moved completely to a 7-inch Lava tablet.
  5. My data connection is permanently set to EDGE. I don’t use 3G.

Before I picked up the Moto G, I was using the Micromax A116, which has been a pleasant experience. After using it for almost a year, I’d rooted it and switched to ROM that had thrown away a lot of the unnecessary bits and made it nearly stock Android. Even that phone was giving me a good 24-hours of usage on a single charge. The reason why I wanted to try something else was that the build quality is extremely poor and I doubt it will be able to take another year or two of abuse. There are also little niggles like the problematic GPS lock, lack of a compass and issues with the filesystem at times.
DSC_0548The Moto is my first Google Android phone, which is a route that I have been looking to go down for a while now. The migration assistant provided by Motorola (works over Bluetooth) is quite good and I could switch devices (with data and apps) in a couple of hours. The device does only MTP, so it cannot be mounted as a regular volume on computers. Since I’m on Linux, I use gMTP, which can misbehave a bit at times. The fallback is Bluetooth, which is the disagreeable option when it comes to speed.
Overall, Kitkat seems to have improved how Android handles the idle state. This has resulted in better battery life, for me at least. There are rooting guides and ROMs available for the interested parties, as usual, on XDA, but I’m pretty happy with the way the device is right now. So I don’t see rooting and custom ROMs happening anytime soon. I like my devices to function flawlessly and stay out of the way and the G increasingly looks like a good candidate for that. I’m well past my weekly flashing phase on my phones and a lack of excitement is a welcome change on that front.

Filed under: Android, MobileTagged with:

Samsung Galaxy S, GT-19000: Two-Year Review

My trusted Android road-warrior — the Galaxy S — completed 2-years sometime late last year. I had picked up the phone as a replacement for my tough-as-nails Nokia E71, long  before the platforms were burning and tablets and mini-tablets had become the rage. To say that the phone has exceeded my expectations would be an accurate statement. As my first touchscreen phone and as my first Andorid phone, I had expected the experience to be ghastly and that the phone would not last for more than a year. I could not have been any more wrong about all that.
The phone is currently running a stock build of Jelly Bean (Android 4.2.1) and other than a deadboot (completely my fault, fixed at a local mobile phone repair shop with a JTAG flash), the device has been flawless. OK, not entirely, I also managed to make the camera unusable after scratching the lens cover pretty badly. In spite of Samsung trying its best to shaft its customers with all the Touchwiz madness and glacially slow firmware updates, this phone will easily continue to go into the pages of history for reasons other than being the phone that started the thermonuclear war with Apple.
Other than being one of the best developer-supported Android handsets, what I love about the phone is how sturdily it is built. It has been dunked in water multiple times, keeps surviving regular falls with unfailing regularity (to the extent that I often ‘demo’ it to friends, eliciting their unparalleled shock) and has withstood my general grubby and clumsy usage. These were the qualities that endeared the Nokias to me a long long time ago and I still retain the E71 (which is fully functional) as one of my backup phones.
I can say with reasonable certainty that come August 2013, I will still be using the phone as long as it keeps going and if it does not get stolen or gets lost. The strange part is that even though the Android ecosystem has changed drastically in the two-years I have had this phone, my desire to switch to a different handset has always been fairly low. It needs to be kept in mind that my smartphone requirements have only regressed over that period. I don’t game at all on the device, there are a few productivity apps and it is used to play music in the car when I drive.
If you take out two important factors — a superb camera and games — Android phones can perform 90% of the functionality (forget NFC for the time being), of the other functions across the board all the way down to Gingerbread. I know this for a fact due to my second phone – Micromax A73. I prefer shooting photos with a proper camera now and don’t use mobile phones for that purpose and I can say that my gaming days are now pretty much behind me. For a while I kept evaluating the Nexus 4, but I just could not convince myself that it was worth the premium I’d have to pay for it.
On the other hand, my regular run-ins with iOS only serves to reaffirm my belief that it is a fine, polished OS and an ecosystem, but it is simply not the right option for me. Having ruled that option out, I am not sure what will be my next smartphone at the higher end of the market.

Filed under: Android, Mobile, Technology

Is 'My Airtel' App A Hint Of Airtel's Future?

Text message from Airtel prompting me to upgrade to Android ICS from Samsung.
Text message from Airtel prompting me to upgrade to Android ICS from Samsung.

The image on the left is a message I received from Airtel on the 29th of December, 2012, suggesting that I should upgrade to Android 4.0.4 on my Samsung Android device and it says I should visit the Samsung India website to get the process going. This is interesting for a few reasons:
1. The device has not run stock Samsung firmware after 2010 and for a while in 2011. For the past year and a half it has only run various custom ROMs, mostly various builds based on CyanogenMOD.
2. As far as I know, Samsung India does not have my phone number registered with this device. In fact, I am fairly sure that I have not registered for anything with Samsung India regarding the phone. The phone has never seen a Samsung service center.
3. The obvious suspect is Airtel. The device resides on their network and I have the ‘My Airtel‘ app installed on the device, which has permissions to read phone state, identity, network and location details. It is fairly trivial for the app to gather the required details and suggest an upgrade.
4. The lesser suspect is Google. The phone has always been wired to a Google Account and from that point it can access the firmware number, mobile number, location, carrier details etc. But the message originated from the same source that Airtel uses to send other alerts. Unless there is a formal tie-up between Airtel and Google, this will not be possible.
If it can be confirmed that the Airtel app was used to trigger the SMS, it should give us a hint that Airtel is fairly serious about the app. The app is shown to be in the 500,000 installs range by Google Play and it has a decent number of 5-star reviews. If it now triggers firmware upgrade text messages based on the model/manufacturer, it will be another significant move by Airtel to move out of the ‘dumb-pipe’ trap that telcos are desperate to get themselves out of.

Filed under: Android, India, Mobile

What Is A Good Mobile Strategy For India?

As the previous post focused on an overview of the scenario for banking applications for Indian banks on Android, I thought it would be a good idea to have a follow-up post on what is a good mobile strategy for your products. Products built also for Mobile Internet in India goes back a very long way. Rediff had a mobile website in 2000 which was marked up in WML. Those days, more than a mobile phone it was a PDA that was the target device and it was a requirement from a product hygiene that led the well-funded companies down that path.
By 2005 the focus had changed drastically from building WAP-enabled websites to leveraging the SMS-based revenue streams. A lot of money and effort was spent on getting ‘on-deck’ with the operators, which was followed by the era of the short-code. Then came the age of the backend service providers such as July Systems who would transform your data into a mobile-friendly format and handle the presentation of it as a managed service. And now we find ourselves in the app era where content and service apps targetting iOS and Android (Blackberry, Symbian and WP being after thoughts) are being released by companies on a regular basis.
For decision makers in the industry this is a very confusing time since there are multiple strategies that could be deployed:

  1. Only web: Ignore mobile and all facets of it due to cost and operational complexities. There are zero cost workarounds possible if you are on WordPress by using plugins that will accomplish this for you. On custom platforms you can use a mobile-friendly template and hope that it renders decently across most devices, or at least devices that are less than 4-5 years old.
  2. Web + SMS: Considering the mess created by TRAI regarding bulk messaging, this is still an evolving scenario, but it is feasible to have an SMS-based operation with a managed service longer short code for a reasonable amount of money.
  3. Web + SMS + Mobile web: This is (2) augmented with a dedicated mobile website, or a main website that detects a mobile device and serves the right format for pages.
  4. Web + SMS + Mobile Web + app: This is (3) augmented with apps that are built for various mobile platforms.
  5. Web + Mobile Web + app: This is a strategy that seems to be picking up a lot these days, with a variant of Web + app.

There is no hard and fast rule that will help you decide which is the best route to pick. There are significant cost and operational complexities that are involved in adding a new target platform. Even with a managed, outsourced service the support needs to be provided to supply the right data, which is just one part of the entire integration puzzle.
Key Metrics:

  1. Cost: Of deployment, maintenance and growth.
  2. Audience: Size, geography, demographic.
  3. Platform: Size, geography, demographic.
  4. Monetization: Ads, subscriptions (current and projected)

Most operations don’t have a good handle on the four key metrics before they jump into the mobile rabbit hole. Of the available strategies (4) is the most expensive and worst in terms of integration issues. Even though apps are the in-thing to do, the costs for development of an application is quite high and in India you have to support the application on at least three platforms to reach out to a demographic who can be monetized a bit better. The NDTV application in Android Market has about half a million as an install base, but most of that came as a result of the app being featured in the marketplace and installs have fallen off a cliff ever since.
A good rule of thumb to use is to not go with apps for content-only websites, unless you can either support a significantly different/superior user experience or if you have content that is accessible only under a subscription. Non-aggregated content apps always stand the risk of being crowded on in the app screens and eventually decay without repeat usage. It is better to stick to having a mobile-friendly website in this case and only switch to an app if you see the demand for it or you have services that work well with an application. You also have to take into consideration that bandwidth is an issue here, even when it is available over 3G.
Service-oriented businesses are better off with a focus on applications primarily because monetization is already built into most online services. For instance, should a Flipkart decide to eventually support e-books, a fully functional (better than the wrapper around the mobile website approach they currently have) application will allow them to ease into that segment. Same is the case with ticketing services. These businesses also have a greater opportunity in providing unique user experiences around their services compared to content-only players.
For smaller shops, mobile applications are best left alone at the moment. There is simply not enough size/support in the market to justify the cost and effort. It is much easier to clean up the mark-up and have a website that presents a reasonably degraded and functional website to mobile browsers.

Filed under: Android, India, Mobile

Ice Cream Sandwich On Samsung Galaxy S

ICS On Samsung Galaxy S

The phone is now well over a year old and has been good to me. Sometime earlier this year I managed to dead boot it (a condition where you wind up corrupting the bootloader itself) and it had to be revived with a JTAG pinout. I was running a rooted and lag-fixed stock Gingerbread ROM on it for a long time and was quite satisfied with it. The primary reason why I love this phone has been how abuse-friendly it has been so far. I tend to drop my phones and carry them around without any screen guards or cases. This one has been dipped in water once, keeps falling on the ground at regular intervals and is not treated with a great deal of gentleness. To survive all that and to still keep going gets my loyalty any given day.
By 2.3.4 itself I had decided to hold off until Samsung releases (or leaks) a build of Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) for the phone before I do any more experiments with the new ROMs. Over time, I have come to dislike most of the heavily modified ROMs and it also tends to be a bottomless pit, you keep trying one after the other and waste a lot of time on it. When Google announced the release of ICS to the developer community, I was expecting a wait of a few months before a stable enough build was out for the SGS. But, things have changed a lot on Samsung’s end since I bought the phone over a year ago, when it was on Froyo and took forever to get a stable, non-leaked official Gingerbread build out.
Early in November Onecosmic on XDA Forums had released a build from AOSP codebase. I tried the beta2 release and found it to be quite stable, but the battery life was the worst I have ever had on a mobile device. It would not last more than 10-hours if I was lucky and it meant that I had to carry around my old Nokia E71 as a backup phone. But things changed dramatically when Teamhacksung released an AOSP build of their own late November. The first build I tried was build5, which was a vast improvement in battery life over the Onecosmic build. Build6 was the best I have ever had on their releases with the phone being at its fastest best. I am running build7 at the moment, but it has not been as snappy as build6. There are a few things that don’t work well (video recording, front-facing camera), but it is very stable and “force close” is not that rampant and I can now easily go a full 24-hour day of normal usage with 12% battery left on the device.
I have tweaked a few things to get that kind of life.

  1. Force GPU rendering: Off
  2. Window animation scale: Off
  3. Transition animation scale: Off
  4. Email service: Disabled
  5. Exchange services: Disabled
  6. Google Plus: Disabled
  7. 2G networks only
Other than the excellent stability, the perceptible change in ICS is cosmetic. The UI has been made a lot more consistent and less nerdy, which should catch the attention of the market segment who have been used to the simplicity and smoothness of iOS, but it is not a real competition to iOS yet. It may also be a possibility that Google will decide to take Android in a different direction from iOS. The hints of it are there in the ICS interface (even though it also has enough ‘inspiration’ from iOS) in terms of button placements and other visual elements, but I think is a release that aims to set right the UI wrongs in Gingerbread, making it an evolutionary release. We may see the actual direction the OS may head in by the time Android 5 comes out.
This build is also the first instance of me having spent an extended period of time on the AOSP build. The handset manufacturer OS is almost always laden with a lot of extra apps and services they carry on deck. It is nice to be able to live in an environment that does not have any of that. At the same time, they too need to make whatever money they can out of these devices, so you can’t blame them a lot for it, which is where the freedom (not openness) of having Android phones that allow you to throw out all the official firmware and start on something like this becomes invaluable.
Build 8 Update Highlights (12-12-2011): 
  1. Turned back on Window animation and Transition animation.
  2. Email and Exchange services are still disabled.
  3. First run after new update was awful, got barely 10-hours of battery life.
  4. Changed modem to JP5 and battery life is back to normal. 11-hours on 55% battery, Wifi on all the time, more than 2-hours already on phone calls.
  5. Trying out the Thunderbolt scripts, even though the jury is divided whether they work or not. It seems a lot smoother for me.
Filed under: Android, Mobile

Gingerbread On The Samsung Galaxy GTi9000

I have been running the leaked early beta release of Gingerbread (Android 2.3.2, I9000XXJVE) on the Samsung Galaxy S for about a month now and I can tell you that it looks really really good. The build is very buggy, so I would advise anyone who is tempted to do the same to hold on till Samsung puts out an official stable release (it will also not play nice with your warranty should you chose to run it on your phone).

There is little by means of cosmetic changes that is noticeable to those who are not detail-oriented and it is largely consistent from the 2.2.1 days. The notifications pane gets a new coat of paint and new icons. The apps stack is a straight carryover from 2.2.x, though I guess they may change it by the time a stable release is out. Almost everything worked out of the box for me and installation was done using Odin, which is never a comfortable thing.

Before I flashed to this build, I was upgrading to the CM7 beta release for the SGS, but after I set up the phone it figured that it just would not get on the mobile network. CM7 was looking really good till that point. I will probably move to that once they put out a stable release.

The Gingerbread release by Samsung, though, fixes most of the bad issues of previous releases of Android on the Galaxy S. The boot process is really really fast, unlike previous releases where you had to wait forever to get the phone booted into an usable state. The fact that I have not rooted it or applied any lag-fixes on it should tell you how good it is. Neither Eclair or Froyo have run unrooted/non-lag fixed on my phone for long since the experience used to be that bad. If they can close out the nasty bugs, Samsung may have a winner on their hands with this.

Since it is a beta, as mentioned earlier, the OS is still buggy in places. It can freeze up and a few reboots are the norm in a day. For me, that is worth living with since none of the cooked ROMs have given the kind of battery life this buggy release has given me. I have tried it in various combinations with wifi, GPS, data and it has consistently outperformed anything else I have run on this phone.

It will be really interesting if the guys at Cyanogen can fix up CM7 for the Galaxy S in time for Samsung's official release of Gingerbread. In either case, it is going to be finally happy times for SGS owners – another couple of months and the phone, which is an excellent hardware package, should get the kind of software it truly deserves, making it a really good iPhone competitor at a significantly cheaper price point.

Filed under: Android, Industry, Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S Three Month Review

I have now spent a good three months with the Samsung Galaxy S and it has been an interesting time. The phone is good enough for me to persist with it. It is no perfect and Samsung has botched what could have been a perfect non-iPhone iPhone with a bad choice of filesystem and issues with lag.

In its current shape it is rooted (SuperOneClick), lag fixed (OCLF) and running a Samsung beta release of Froyo (2.2, I9000XXJPH, It has a pretty high Quadrant score (1852), but I really don't think much of that. Overall, I am quite happy with the phone. In a lot of ways, it is like Windows XP once you get used to it. It can really annoy you at times, but over time you get used to extracting the best out of it.

My current workflow on it involves the usage of it more as a communications device (calls, email and light browsing), followed by a bit of gaming and very little in terms of music or videos. I do read a lot on it, using both the e-book reader and the browser, but 90% of the heavy lifting on the phone for me is still voice. Mail is handled by the native Gmail application and a lot of work-related data is handled through Dropbox.

So, what do I still like about the phone after 3-months:

1. The screen. It is gorgeous and even in my horribly clumsy, grimy hands it still does not have a single scratch on it.
2. Application stability. I have not yet come across a single application that does not install or run properly on it.
3. The Mobile Access Point feature. Saves me a lot of the usual tethering (cable or bluetooth) nightmares.
4. The camera: both the videos and photos are awesome IF you have decent lighting.
5. Decoupled core applications (you can't get this unless you are on 2.2).
6. App quality is steadily getting better.

What I don't like:

1. They are destroying an awesome phone with a lousy OS implementation. Official Froyo is miles ahead of the 2.1-update 1 release, but it still gets it wrong so many ways.
2. Market still remains the weakest link in the chain. Pick any part of it and it will be lousy.
3. It requires tinkering to make it run both fast and reliably.
4. There is no single, easy-to-understand interface to manage app access permissions. (More of an Android problem).
5. Samsung Kies.

Apps I can't do without:

1. Email – The Official Gmail App.
2. Browsing – Opera Mini (I have Fennec, Android's native browser, Opera Mobile and Skyfire installed, but on EDGE it is Opera Mini all the way).
3. E-books – Aldiko.
4. Twitter – Tweetcaster.
5. Maps & Location – Google Maps.
6. File Sync: Dropbox.
7. News & Reading: Express News, Everpaper.
8. Blogging: Tumblr.
9. Music & Video: Doubletwist.
10. Games: Angry Birds, Falling Ball, Air Control Lite.
11. Productivity: Swype
12. Geek: Connectbot (SSH sessions)

I don't have a single paid app on the phone yet. This is something that will change in the coming months. I still have not fully settled into the Android world to make that sort of a commitment, even though at Rs. 90 – Rs. 500 per app, it makes for massive fight with temptation every time I stroll over to the market to prevent myself from picking up something.

Filed under: Android, Industry, Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S, GTi9000

My trusted Nokia E71 sort of gave up on me about a month ago, which is never a great thing to happen while you are on the road. Since I was already on the lookout for a decent Android phone, I gave into the lure of extreme gadget lust and went for the latest Samsung Galaxy S GTi9000.

I was very skeptical about getting a touchscreen phone. I like buttons that I can feel and don't quite like the idea of tapping on a sheet of glass to type. It is just not my thing. A month on, I have grown used to typing on it. Swype has helped matters considerably, but the entire flick, pinch, tap routine is still a bit alien to me.

Android by itself is a major paradigm change for me. I am used to phones that do a few smart bits. Even though the E71 is a massive improvement on the earlier phones (you can watch videos, browse most parts of the net, use a Twitter client etc), Android is a world apart compared to that.

The first major change that stares you in the face is that being online and consuming data is not an add-on, but something that is at the core of the whole experience. Of course, it is very much possible to use Android without a data connection, but it is only less than half of what it is capable of when you don't use data on it.

The phone runs Eclair, which is Android 2.1, with update1 on it. The experience has been largely OK and feels more or less complete and consistent, but there is still room for a massive amount of improvement. And I am saying that without having used an iPhone in a while and I have not owned one either, ever.

The weakest point I feel in the whole Android game is not fragmentation. Apple has altered perceptions on this front a bit too far from reality. You can't control the entire ecosystem if you want massive scale. The “i” ecosystem is not about massive scale, it is a high margin play. Android is a different pony from that. So, if you are looking for the Apple experience on the Android, you are out of luck. If you are willing to put up with a few niggles here and there and a largely polished outcome, Android will do fine for you.

That said, the Android Market is one of the weakest links in the Android chain. It feels and works like having been designed and conceptualized by a 2-year-old. It really needs to be done better and I am surprised that Google has allowed it to languish like this. There is very much a lovely market opportunity for someone to start a “certified by xyz” marketplace, where every app is tested and rated. I would gladly pay for something like that and as Android takes on more market share, I can imagine a lot of others too would like that.

What I don't often understand are the constant flamewars between the Apple and Android fanatics. Both are phones/platforms that work well and have their respective strengths and weaknesses. The passion with which each of the groups go at each other really baffles me.

Filed under: Android, Misc, Mobile