A few days back Google released an Android software developer kit for wearables in a move that should lead to smartwatch and other gear. What remains to be seen is how well Android can adapt to the small screen.
In an announcement that came at the SXSW Sundar Pichai, who heads Google Chrome and Android efforts said he wants to connect to a bevy of sensors and wearables with Android. Google’s Android is already moving into automobiles. Android has proved it can move to larger screens. From the smartphone, Android has hit tablets, TVs and even PCs. However, the small screen may be trickier—assuming some of these wearables and sensor-first devices even have screens. Here’s a look at Android’s key challenges as they relate to the wearable market:
1. Wearable computing operating systems need to be silently working in the background – effortlessly and elegantly. Android’s Achilles Heel is the working in the background bit.
2. The Wearables ecosystem is a smarter one having learnt its lessons from Smartphones. Already Intel and Samsung have upped their game and presence. OEMs this time may not want to play all of it into one corner.Android means a race to the bottom for hardware makers.
3. Its hard to be one OS for all screens – the OS must have to be lightened considerably especially for wearables. Android could simply be too bulky to be useful in wearable computing.
4. Apps for the wearables will need a serious rethink – especially in the sense that these may not be visible apps or may have to pair devices in groups for serious activity
5. There’s a bit of unease about Google and data. Android in a smartwatch seems like a no brainer since the device to date is merely an extension of the smartphone. However,users may be wary of sharing vital signs with Google and may not want ads and pitches via a wearable. Google is all about the ads and wearable computing can make pitches a bit more freaky.
Sooner than later, these challenges will be overcome by Google, but I’ve been in the tech industry long enough to know that retrofits and alternates don’t always fly. Adapting Android to wearable computing is likely to be harder than it appears on the whiteboard.
Gartner forecasts that Android is poised to surpass 1.1 billion users across all devices in 2014 even as Worldwide combined shipments of devices (PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones) are projected to reach 2.5 billion units in 2014. This represents a 7.6% increase in volumes for connected devices from 2013. In terms of Android, the figures represent a 26% increase in volumes compared to 2013. 75% of the Android activations will happen in emerging markets – which by extension means that the Android story is not slowing down any time soon.
1. Smartphones will be the key to the new connected devices paradigm contributing 75% of the total volumes in connected devices. Smart phones will continue to grow but at a slower pace, with opportunities moving away from the top-end premium devices to mid-end basic products
2. PC’s will drop in volumes by 8% per year and will loose almost a fourth on volumes. The evolution to ultra slim and light form factors would be key to the existence of the laptop category – since laptop users find tablets to have limited usability
3. Tablets will be one of the highest growth categories over the next 3 years though tablets will gravitate to the 5”/6” phablet form factor with usage which is more akin to smartphones.
4. However, the interesting category to watch out for are Ultra Mobiles – essential form factors such as hybrids, clamshells, watches, consoles or Google Glass which has a significant growth potential through the next 3 years horizon.
On the popularity of Android as a platform, there is a volume versus value equation, with Android users also purchasing lower-cost devices compared to Apple users. Android holds the largest number of installed-base devices, with 1.9 billion in use in 2014, compared with 682 million iOS/Mac OS installed-base devices. In terms of OSs, Gartner predicts Windows to have the toughest fight from iOS in CY 2014, post which Windows would gain on iOS basis its growing presence in the smartphone segment.
So what Android dominates device shipments with a 80% market share and Apple is dropping down at 14%. NetApplications’ November 2013 report shows that Apple still rules the mobile internet space contributing to 55% of traffic to internet from devices.
Apple has been loosing on the mobile internet share over the last 12 months given the onslaught of Android devices. Given that Apple is now reduced to a minority with no low end presence to take on the might of the Android’s, this share is set to fall further.
An interesting infographic on Google on its 15th birthday. The $60 billion internet giant possibly will possibly end up having the same impact on history as Industrial revolution 500 years back.
Source: Statista/ Mashable
The cost and benefits of options and opportunities not taken can never be estimated in its entirety. The same could be said for Nokia rumoured move ( Plunge be abetter word) to Android.
Before the 23rd August 2013, Nokia Microsoft deal was announced, Nokia was considering options in Android on Lumia. This isn’t surprising – rather it was in common sense not to load up all its devices on Windows platform. It was a huge risk- which i am not sure has benefitted Nokia. Stephen Elop has himself accepted that this move was not considered in 2010 because of the dominance of Samsung on the Android platform would have meant Nokia being relegated to a lesser-than-what-was-expected status in the Android hierarchy.
Considering that Nokia lost market share from 32% in 20110 to 3% in 2013 – the Android shift as a plan B hardly comes as a surprise- rather it is much too obvious that the maturity of Android as a platform and the hardware competence and scale of Nokia would have made a great combination.Nokia would have saved money, reduced development costs and still play to its hardware design strengths. The Android scale would have also helped Nokia enter mid and low end of the smartphone markets earier, faster with greater acceptability.
Nokia had an option to exit the partnership late next year, but that certainly can’t happen now. It’s interesting to think about how differently things could’ve gone if Nokia had decided to go with Google rather than Microsoft, but it looks like we’ll never know now.
The Apple board is concerned about its “dry spell” in producing innovative products. Apple has been missing in action for a while – October 23rd, 2012 was the last time, Apple launched the iPad mini. Ever since then the Cupertino giant has been largely missing in action. Twitter and Blogospehere – which was alive and abuzz disecting Apple’s latest launch or new launch have largely falled silent and one gets to read more about Cook versus Jobs comparison which is reminiscent of Apple’s Phoenix tale.
This post is to put Apple’s profiling Apple’s share of problems.
1. iPhone and iPad both played a significant role in its growth since 2009. However there is slowdown in Apple sales and prices have gone southwards for a while now. In other words, loss of momentum. Apple seems to be not only losing its pricing power but also its sales growth despite the lower prices.
2. Going by Apple’s own statement- the loss in pricing premium and numbers is not just a temporary loss-
“The Company expects its gross margin percentage to be lower in 2013 than experienced in 2012, and the Company anticipates gross margin to be between 36% and 37% during the fourth quarter of 2013. The lower gross margin expected in 2013 is largely due to anticipation of a higher mix of new and innovative products with flat or reduced pricing that have higher cost structures and deliver greater value to customers and anticipated component cost and other cost increases.”
Financials Q3, 2013 (page 30)
3. The decline in numbers can also hurt the iTunes, software and services, and accessories segments.
4. More importantly, the loss in momentum is showing on its technology leadership – and top of the mind recalls. Apple is suddenly a “has been” from “aspirational” and “ahead of the curve”
5. There have been fiascos such as the Apple Maps which have robbed the sheen and the Halo. Apple was never accussed of being a “half baked device/service”
While it is understood that Apple needs to target the China and the SE Asia markets with its low cost iPhone – iPhone 5C which should take on the mid range Androids and Windows Phones – this would translate in reduction of the overall margins. At the same time, Samsung Galaxy SIII has taken over as the Smartphone tops – disrupting iPhone’s positioning in consumer mind as the best smartphone.
Global smartphone shipments have galloped by 47% year on year (2013 versus 2012). Android captured 80% of these numbers – monopolizing the smartphone space. The Android growth is powered by its distribution across all smartphone OEMs (apart from Nokia), competitive licensing costs and a large eco-system of Apps and Auxiliary devices. Apple slipped to its worst performance in last 3 years where as Microsoft went up to its best performance in the last 3 years.
The story in numbers…
Apple’s line has been stagnant for a while and is wilting under the relentless Android attack. It all remains to be seen if the September 2013 launch of iPhone 5C and 5S will change the tack for Apple. The delay in adding to the product line is taking its toll on Apple – and Apple is seen to have frittered away a massive lead in technology and user experience. Unless iPhone 5C is able to ring in numbers and iPhone 5S places the proposition way and far beyond Samsung and Android, Apple’s Halo is on the wane by serious proportions
Microsoft is fairly constrained in terms of number of partners, a high license fee for hardware partners and support for high end Octa-core chipset devices. If Microsoft were to fix these issues, it could enable a better platform acceptance and it could go on to challenge Apple in the number 2 position in the Smartphone OS space.