People in the tech world are a-talking, and the words on their lips are straight from a hot headline: WHOA: Google Android Outsells Apple iPhone in US. Like a lot of people, my first thought was that this took a lot less time than I would have thought.
There’s no doubt that mobile is shaping up as a two-horse race between Android and iPhoneOS while RIM dithers in front of a mirror trying to figure out what it wants to be. But figuring out just where each horse is on the track requires a depth of reporting that the tech press isn’t inclined to provide. To help them out, here are a few simple questions about the Android vs. iPhone numbers:
On April 12 Opera was approved for the App Store. I’m not sure if they should be happy to be in or insulted that they’re not threatening, but I’m glad to see it. Congrats, team Opera.
I’ve always had a soft spot for the Opera browser. I used it when it was among the only ad-supported online properties, paid for a license to support them, and evangelized it to coworkers and friends. It had mouse gestures, it was FAST, it could render as a small screen interface before anyone knew why they’d want to. Then I moved to a Mac, where Opera had yet to go, and never really went back when Opera did come to that platform.
Opera has done so much right but rarely receives the credit, much less market share, that it deserves. The company’s last major strategy shift was to position their browser as the premier choice for mobile use. But Apple, Google and RIM are eating up the mobile market and all three roll their own browsers. Opera is, once again, being left out in the cold but this time isn’t so quietly accepting of its fate.
Dan Lyons, aka Fake Steve Jobs, must be losing some sleep this week. Just six days ago he made in one of his posts a call for a ‘digital flash mob’. The goal: overload the AT&T 3G network in a protest response to the company’s grousing about Bandwidth Hogs. Now, the [wikipop]Bandwidth Hog[/wikipop] is a mythological beast in the world of telecom and internet service providers. Spokespeople portray them with propagandistic rhetoric as an invisible enemy among us, greedily devouring fantastic amounts of bandwidth to the detriment of us fair-minded, simple folk. Invoking such a cheap device is condescending enough, but the real insult is that these companies consistently fail to produce evidence of actual bandwidth hogs.
But that doesn’t excuse Lyons from what he must be starting to see as a bad mistake. His Operation Chokehold has escaped the crystal prison of satire and threatens to run loose in our world. That’s right, Fake Steve found the silly old book of magic spells and thought it funny to read one calling forth the Bandwidth Hog from the demon dimensions. As if in a bad horror movie (or a great Buffy episode), the beast becomes real and is loosed upon the world.
In real terms, the stunt is little more than a crowdsourced [wikipop]denial of service attack[/wikipop], and the FCC has already commented to that effect. Moreover, one has to wonder how much damage this whole thing will do to the future of unlimited data plans; if Operation Chokehold demonstrates a risk exposure in unlimited plans, the telcos will have a great shield to hide behind as bandwidth caps and tiered access once again rule the day and destroy a huge user experience benefit that Real Steve Jobs brought in with the iPhone: that you don’t have to wonder about data limits when you use the device.
By invoking the ethos of the vandal with a ginned up crowd, Lyons went beyond satire, slapped on a pair of jean shorts and made the wonderful Fake Steve Jobs jump the shark.
What Dan could and should have done is tuned AT&T anger at the partner with the trump card: Apple. They’ve shown us that they can and will break carrier exclusivity by punishing Rogers/Fido here in the Canada just last month, so why not reach for the lever that seems to actually work to the customer’s benefit?
If Dan’s satirical voice does wane after this episode it’ll be a net loss, but like the Fonz nobody made him get on those waterskies.
I’ve taken more than a couple shots at RIM on this blog, in part due to being a bit of a fanboy for the iPhone, and more for what I’ve seen as a lot of old school thinking about product development and design. But if I want to be fair, I have to give RIM props when I see what I think are good moves. Today I found just such an opportunity.
The BlackBerry swept the enterprise mobile market largely on the strength of push, which delivers e-mail messages and other content to the handset in the background as soon they arrive and can notify the user immediately. On Monday, RIM gave developers of consumer software a push API (application programming interface) for creating applications that could include Web-based e-mail and other tools.
That’s smart, because reliable push-notification is something that Apple tried to copy in the iPhone but has had all kinds of trouble with (recalling the MobileMe launch and the year-long delay to open a push service that third-party apps can use to deliver notifications from the background, where they’re (quite rightly) not allowed to run.
RIM is playing on their strengths rather than trying to chase what Apple is doing better, like a touchscreen experience. They’re also learning quickly that opening up the platform will let others help build their success. It’s refreshing to see from a company that was having a hard time breaking out of older thinking.
About six weeks ago Apple kicked out a little preview party for the iPhone’s upcoming 3rd anniversary, complete with a big slice of Beta Cake for app developers. Most commentary so far seems split between speculation on somewhat vanilla, incremental hardware improvements and the overdue-ness, the zomg-ness of the decades-old desktop computing staple: Cut+Copy and Paste.
Copy and Paste is good to have. Its absence hasn’t bothered me much, but that’s me and I recognize it’s a pain for many, especially around URLS (though the explosion of shorteners, midwifed into necessity by Twitter, alleviates that). And the way Apple is implementing the feature in a touch-screen looks good in the video.
Besides adding oft-requested (and much needed) copy and paste functionality, the company also tacked on MMS, A2DP (stereo Bluetooth) support, peer-to-peer connectivity, unlocked Bluetooth support for the touch, and a brand new global search called Spotlight.
What I think reviewers are missing can only be seen when the iPhone is viewed part and parcel with the iTunes App Store and the changes coming with 3.0. Those changes, I believe, will have 3 big outcomes:
Halt the ghettoization of the App Store as one ruled by the $0.99 price point, and radically tidy up the inventory to make app discovery and browsing much easier.
Expand App Store revenues with a massive opportunity for developers to generate new and ongoing sales.
Neutralize the threat posed by Amazon’s Kindle ebook reader by turning it into an Apple product.
The short version of why: iPhone 3 makes every app a potential store. Here’s how.
It’s hard to believe it’s been eight years since I put up the Corvus Consulting shingle. That is, until I look back and recount the projects and clients I’ve worked with, and realize it’s been a very full time. Working solo brings certain freedoms, in decision-making, in working style, in choosing when not to work. [...]
My first Apple experience was a 3rd generation iPod. I rolled my eyes when I read Designed by Apple in California, and blinked when the other flap of the box said Enjoy. It was different. Usually product packaging congratulated me on my purchase. Or slyly implored me to register, suggesting I wouldn’t have a warranty [...]