Ronnie05's Blog

Should Android be tentative about wearables and vice versa?

Posted in Body Hacking & Quantified Self by Manas Ganguly on March 15, 2014

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.

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Connected Devices and Android’s 1 billion – Gartner

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on January 7, 2014

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.

Connected Devices - Gartner

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.

The state of mobile internet

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on December 1, 2013

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.

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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.

mobile-web 2

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Google the Prime mover of Internet: 7 Facts

Posted in Internet and Search by Manas Ganguly on September 27, 2013

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.

2013_09_26_Google

Source: Statista/ Mashable

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Nokia’s Plan.B was Android (Before it got acquired)

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on September 14, 2013

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.

Apple – Losing its Halo!

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on August 6, 2013

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.

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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)

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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.

Strategy Analytics: Q2 smartphone market share

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on August 2, 2013

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…

Strategy Analytics - Q2 2013

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.

The Real Impact of Android on Google

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems by Manas Ganguly on June 13, 2013

>Android Controls 70% of the global smartphone sales and is catching up on Apple’s tablet dominance at a fast trot. Android’s rise to dominance in global markets has been a phenomenon. Amidst worries of the platform segmentation and the dark Androids, the Android OS is making money for Google on the digital and mobile space – and tons of it if latest numbers from eMarketer’s worldwide digital and mobile advertising revenues are to be believed.

Android is help Google corner more than half of $8.8 billion advertisers spend on mobile internet ads in 2012. In the overall digital space, Android’s dominance gives Google a third of the digital ad dollars spend, globally. In terms of numbers, Google tripled its mobile ad earnings in 2012 over 2011 and clocked $4.61bln. For 2013, eMarketer expects the growth to be around 92.1% (around 2X of the $4.61bln in 2012) to $8.85bln. Google holds a very strong pole position in the Mobile Internet Ad revenues through 2011-13 and is seen to be increasing its market shares – all thanks to Android.

Google Mobile Internet Ad Revenues

Globally, Google reigns with $32.73bln in net digital ad revenues in 2012 which constitutes 31.5% of the market.

Google Digital Internet Ad Revenues

With blockbusters such as Google Search on Digital Medium, Android on Mobile medium and YouTube on Video Medium it is not any matter of wonder that Google will continue expanding its digital ad revenues and shares.

Should Google be worried about Samung?

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems, Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on May 21, 2013

Samsung shipped 42% of the Android phones in 2012. HTC was No. 2 at 6%. Samsung is the big Gorilla of the Android kingdom. All others are simply chipmunks. Even while a lot of other OEMs have tried to take the Android flagship – but if there is one line of Androids that goes head to head (and has possibly dethroned) the iPhone, it is the Galaxy series of phones.

So is Google under threat from Samsung? The possibility cannot be ruled out-

• The threat centres on the possibility that Samsung is in a position to demand a greater share of Google’s mobile advertising revenues derived from search and other products.
• Samsung could also follow Amazon’s approach to the Kindle, which forked Android and cut off the core Google apps that generate revenue for the search company.

Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility, which makes smartphones and the Xoom tablet, was an “insurance policy” against such an event.Samsung, of course, is also moving to reduce its reliance on Android as Google develops its plans around the rumoured X Phone, with the scheduled release of Samsung handsets based on the Tizen OS later this year.

However, I am of the view that Google should be more worried about the cheap Chinese devices from the sweat shops of Shenzhen. Its not (just) about the consistently lower levels of engagement – a far cry from the Apple iOS. Thats a secondary worry. What should worry Google more is the faceless, nameless $45 commodity Androids. In the last count a third of Gartner’s smartphone numbers were from these small and fragmented device makers. These faceless, nameless Androids (Call them Black Androids) have no monetization value for Google Services – most of them come without a Google Play store.

Beyond the search and advertising revenues that Google makes from Android, there are those bits of signalling data- that the low cost Androids miss out – those valuable bits of information that map the user holistically. A data mine that can be leveraged for data with relevance to the user. The real structural benefit to Google from Android comes from the understanding it gives of actual users, and the threat comes from devices that do not provide this data – a significant portion of the $45 handsets skimp on Google apps just as they skimp on IMEI numbers. These devices are like dark matter: a lot of it around – but nothing really adding up to the worth. It is quite possible that iPhones generate more advertising revenue for Google than all Android phones combined. In that respect 20% iPhones sold globally are more valuable than 70% of the Androids sold.

On a slightly longer term, Android as an open platform may get leveraged across a lot of computing devices – Car consoles, TVs boxes and others without any genuine value addition to Google. Google must have to address this internal risk first!

Even when there is the threat of Amazon or Samsung forking the platform, there is also the threat that an increasing number of Android devices might have no more connection to Google than does an iPhone. That to me should be Google’s number 1 worry!

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On retrospective- Was Windows8 dead on arrival?

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems by Manas Ganguly on April 18, 2013

As Microsoft twiddled and twaddle Windows’ future of computing – Android has chugged ahead and going by the drop in PC shipments (the post PC era) and increase in the number of Android tablets and smartphones coupled with Windows8’s less than lukewarm acceptance – Microsoft has a problem. A big one. To complicate things, besides Windows 8.1, Cannonical (Ubuntu), Mozila (Firefox), Google (Android/Chrome) are also making bets in the shrinking PC/laptop space. Microsoft hasn’t really fired it in the tablet space – and is yet to find a toehold in 150 million/ $64 billion Tablet industry with the Surface!

When Windows8 was being conceived it was seen as “more like a living organism, made partly from familiar bits that have evolved over the last two decades, with several new strands of DNA tossed in”. A better and a continuous experience on multiple devices was key to the rise and spread of Windows8. It was due to be updated for more often, and was a part of a much larger hardware-apps-services ecosystem that is also changing quickly.” However, if one were to refer to the numbers – Windows8 usage has been Windows Vista when compared month to month. At similar points in their roll-outs, Vista had a desktop market share of 4.52% compared to Windows 8’s share of 2.67%. Underlining just how poorly Windows 8’s adoption has gone, Vista didn’t even have the advantage of holiday season sales to boost its numbers.

Vista versus Windows8
Windows 8 usage can’t even keep up with Vista/s poor numbers.

• Thus, on a retrospective count, Windows8 Metro (refreshingly new as it were) failed to cut the ice – possibly because it was too abrupt a jump from the Windows7 Desktop UI to a “want to be a touch interface”.
The interface was great for a tablet – but then again, Microsoft is way behind Android in terms of economies of scale – and the higher pricing served as significant entry barriers.
• Volumes not coming through, key OEMs such as Samsung dropped the RT platform.
• The $500-$1200 price tags on Windows8 made it uncompetitive in an economy that’s still not moving forward quickly.
• Microsoft also did not marry its traditional UI with the Metro UI successfully enough and the unfamiliarity was daunting.

Windows8
Windows 8, and its relatives Windows Phone 8 and RT, make no impression at all in the smartphone and tablet markets.

All things put together, Microsoft doesnot seem to have moved any further with its Windows8. Microsoft is betting all its chips on the silly notion that Metro will be the one true interface for its entire PC and device line. But the numbers indicate that 8.0 hasnt really taken off. Alternatively it would have soured its relations with key OEMs who would see Microsoft’s ambitions in the device space as a threat to their own positions. Alternate OSs vieing for Microsoft’s 3rd spot in the OSs for the future is also seeing a lot of action and churn.Going back the Windows7 route is out of question – one only hopes that Microsoft is able to crack the business and user case with Windows 8.1.(Else it’s the doldrums.

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