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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.

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Is there room for more than 3 OSs in Mobile?

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems by Manas Ganguly on February 27, 2013

Gary Kovacs, CEO Mozilla wants a piece of the action in enabling the next 2 billion people graduate to the internet. Thus the Firefox OS. Over the last couple of weeks there have been increasing number of claims to divergence in the Mobile OS space- Blackberry 10, Tizen, Ubuntu and now Mozilla. Additionally Samsung is shutting off Bada and HP is selling off WebOS (to LG).

Mobile OS logos

1. Android being the 70% market leader is working on economies of scale and scope – spreading the open platform across multiple domains – TV, Project Glass, Set Top Boxes, Refridgerators, Cars and more. Thus Android is emerging as the truly “connected OS” in the age of convergence
2. Apple still rules as the king of experience and if the experiments in India are replicated across emerging nations – and if the low cost iPhone is in works – Apple will multiply its market share in the mid range ($200) segment in the emerging nations.
3. Historically, OSs have largely oligopolistic/monopolistic in nature. Windows has ruled the PC wave and Android/iOS share the spoils in Mobile devices (Smartphones and Tablets). Even in the feature phone category – Symbian ruled the roost before the advent of Smartphones.
4.While the promise of a diversified OS experience and OS fatigue is a promised land – most of the experiments in this field have returned without encouraging results. (The Palm and HP experience with WebOS and the Samsung experience with home grown Bada being key examples)
5. Even a Goliath like Microsoft is unable to turn the RT platform with a reasonably decent Windows8 experience. Currently all it has is just a toe-hold in the industry even with a Office monopoly out there.
6. Operators – the key market facing entities in the telecom eco-system support the concept of multi OS but the consumer ask is converging to 2 or maximum of 3 OSs. Apple, Android and Blackberry/Windows take those spaces.
7. OEMs and Developers on the other hand would like to be working on 2/3 OSs – OEMs get their economies of scale and Developers have lesser customization requirements for their apps (Agree that HTML5 may change a bit of this)

There’s yet another promise of a light OS with cloud support supported by HTML5 – but even that experience is far from mainstream currently. Many of the fledgeling OSs plan to ride the HTMl5 wave. However, HTML5 and its features are also key to Android and Apple’s iOS – all the more relevant with over 600K apps each.

All these factors put together- my feeling is that there isn’t much room for multi-OS play. I had love to be proven wrong such as the way Windows explorer ceded the browser space to Chrome, Safari and Mozilla.

So to answer Mr.Kovacs narrative – “Apple and Google have led the way in the smartphone market but can’t cover the whole thing- it (is) impossible to understand how 3, 4, 5, or 6 billion people are going to get their diverse needs satisfied by one or two or five companies, no matter how delicious those companies are… Is the farmer in the Indian countryside going to have the same needs and requirements as a lawyer sitting in New York?

Yes, Mr.Kovacs- there is very limited need divergence in the age of convergence- and then there is scale!

Q4, 2012 Smartphone Market shares- IDC

Posted in Industry updates, Mobile Data & Traffic by Manas Ganguly on February 15, 2013

The new IDC report for smartphone shipments in Q4, 2012 hands it over to Android – which seems to have reached more dizzying heights than what Symbian/Nokia ever reached in their near monopolistic regime heydays. the two systems accounted for 91.1 percent of operating systems on all smartphone shipments during the fourth quarter of 2012. For the year 2012, Android and iOS accounted for 87.6 percent of operation systems on smartphones shipped.

SmartPhone OSs II

Android smartphone vendors and Apple shipped a total of 207.6 million units worldwide during Q4 which is a 70.2 percent increase from the 122.0 million shipments of Q4 2011.

Android Saw triple-digit growth for the year. According to IDC, Samsung was the biggest contributor to Android’s success as 42.0 percent of all Android smartphone shipments during the year were by Samsung. The report notes that the intra-Android competition has not stifled companies from keeping Android as the cornerstone of their respective smartphone strategies.
At the end of 2012, Android had a 68.8 percent of market, with over 497.1 million shipments. In 2011, Android’s market share was 49.2 percent with 243.5 million shipments.

IDC- Smartphone

iOS also continued to register strong growth. But the report notes that iOS’s year-over-year growth has slowed compared to the overall market. Of course the report also mentions the growing buzz around a large-screen iPhone and a cheaper variant, which it says would help sustain growth. iOS shipments for 2012 stood at 135.9 million smartphones which represents an 18.8 percent market share. This is a 46 percent growth compared to 2011 when iOS smartphone shipments stood at 93.1 million at a market share of 18.8 percent.

BlackBerry OS: The report states that the decision to postpone the release of BB10 to 2013 left the platform vulnerable in 2012 and reliant primarily on older smartphones running on BB7. As a result, BlackBerry’s tight grip on enterprise users has loosened. BlackBerry had 32.5 million shipments for 2012, which gives it a market share of 4.5 percent. This is down 36.11 percent from 2011 where it had 51.1 million shipments and a market share of 10.3 percent.

Windows Phone/Windows Mobile: The report notes that this has made some progress in Q4 of 2012. Nokia’s Lumia phones were the key driver in Microsoft’s success, says IDC. Windows Phone/Windows Mobile had a 17.9 million shipments and represents a 2.5 percent market for mobile OS on smartphones. This is 98.9 percent increase from 2011 when it had only 9.0 million shipments which was a market share of 1.8 percent.

Is Apple lapsing into the ordinary?

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on September 23, 2012

Even while iPhone is the best selling smartphone ever, the loose, tardy iPhone map application make one think, that Apple’s penchant for beautiful and complete products is perhaaps getting over as the Steve Jobs effect begins to fade away. Sharing the lament fron New York Times.

If Steve Jobs were still alive, would the new map application on the iPhone 5 be such an unmitigated disaster? As Apple’s chief executive, Jobs had no tolerance for mediocre products. The last time Apple released a substandard product – MobileMe, in 2008 – Jobs gathered the team into an  auditorium, berated them and then got rid of the team leader in front of everybody.

No doubt, the iPhone 5, which went on sale recently, will be another hit. But there is nothing about it that is innovative. Plus, it has that nasty glitch. In rolling out a new operating system (OS) for the iPhone 5, Apple replaced Google’s map application with its own, inferior, application, which has infuriated its customers. With maps now a critical feature of smartphones, it seems to be an inexplicable mistake.

Part of the reason is obvious: Jobs isn’t there anymore. It is rare that a company is so completely an extension of one man’s brain as Apple was an extension of Jobs. It’s just not the same without the man himself looking over everybody’s shoulder. But there is also a less obvious reason that Apple’s best days may soon be behind it. When Jobs returned to the company in 1997, Apple was in trouble. It could afford to take big risks and, indeed, to search for a new business model. It had nothing to lose.

Fifteen years later, Apple has a profitable business model to defend – and a lot to lose. Companies change when that happens. It happens in every industry, but it is especially easy to see in technology, as things move quickly. Less than 15 years ago, Microsoft appeared to be invincible. But once its Windows OS and Office applications became moneymakers, its strategy became geared toward protecting its two cash cows. Now it is Apple’s turn to be king of the hill – and, not surprisingly, it has begun to behave in a similar fashion. You can see it in the patent litigation against Samsung, a costly and counterproductive exercise that has nothing to do with innovation.

And you can see it in the decision to replace Google’s map application. Once an ally, Google is now a rival. Apple wants to force its customers to use its own products, even when they are not good. Once companies start acting that way, they become vulnerable to newer competitors that are trying to create something new, instead of milking the old. Just ask BlackBerry, which once reigned supreme in the smartphone market but is now roadkill for Apple and Samsung.

Even before Jobs died, Apple was becoming a company whose main goal was to defend its business model. Yes, he would never have allowed his minions to ship such an embarrassing application. But despite his genius, it is unlikely he could have kept Apple from eventually lapsing into the ordinary. It is the nature of capitalism that big companies become defensive, while newer rivals emerge with better, smarter ideas.

Microsoft: Now or never on Tablets

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on June 8, 2012

Android’s weakness may be Windows’s gain.

Even as ComScore reported four straight months of Android smartphone growth slowdown in 2012 (Jan- April) in US markets, the one device that Android has failed to lord over globally is tablets – it remains Android’s Achilles heal. Amazon was a single quarter flash in the pan and it remains to be seen how Amazon leverages its content comptence to lift up its delivery device- Tablet sales.

Now with Windows8 tablets making their first appearance – it is expected that Windows8 will usher in the new wave of Microsoft devices – tablets and ultrabooks with the keyboard dock and touch functionality.

Morgan Stanley has predicted that after Apple and their iPad, Microsoft will take the number two spot in the tablet market, in the process surpassing Android. 

Morgan Stanley now estimates shipments of 133 million tablets in 2012, up 57% from their original estimates; and 216 million tablets in 2013, up 112%. No surprise there, tablet sales have been growing fast — despite high-profile stumbles by Hewlett-Packard and Dell — thanks to demand for Apple’s iPad. The report expects 25% of (new) users expect to buy Windows 8 tablet. Office will be the key feature, especially for those considering their first tablet purchase. Microsoft would be able to attract tablet builders by bundling its two strongest personal computer brands — Office and Windows.

Microsoft’s hopes are pinned on the success of the tablet – if Microsoft can’t make itself relevant in the tablet market now, the value of its Windows and Office brands will only get weaker over time as Apple and Google push alternatives to Office such as Apple’s iWork and Google Docs on iOS and Android tablets. For Microsoft, it’s now or never.

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The future OS paradigm

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems by Manas Ganguly on June 6, 2012

Zach Epstein, exe. editor of BGR had an interesting set of observation on the OS triumverate and the Android growth story to end in 2012 as Microsoft begins to steal Google & Apple’s thunder. The basis is the IDC report which sees a shift in the OS ranking ladder with Microsoft Windows 8 scoring a few points at the expense of Apple iOS and Android.

While a brief summary of the IDC report is as given below, the facts and the findings are not much changed. Smartphones are expected to grow albeit a slow trot given the increasing base. Feature phones will register declines pulling down the industry numbers.

On the OS dominance, Android will remain status quo although Windows could ride its way past Apple into what could be a second life for Microsoft post PC era. Legacy systems will provide Microsoft the traction in the market. 

 

Reflecting further, what could really influence the tables by 2016 is cross platform play – TV, mobile, car. For some time now Android and iOS focus has been to shift into other platforms which will augment mobile and be driven by mobility. To me Android and iOS may slow down but they will diversify into these platforms which will rub off on the mobile numbers. Developers as well will see this as a unique opportunity for multi platform presence through the cloud. So while the triumverate theory still holds, what is interesting is how OSs will migrate across platforms and the experience factor. Android has a spot of bother on that and Apple is heads and shoulders above others. Ultimately it is the seamless play across different computing and content/consumption platforms which really will sway sway developer communities.Cross platform pressence, migration, experience and abilities will form the future of mobility.

Blackberry- I think that story is done and dusted.

The Three Platform paradigm in connected future of technology

The future belongs to connected experiences over a large range of devices starting from Smartphone, Tablet, Networks and not limiting only to TV, Vehicles, Home appliances and more. As a new era of convergence sweeps in, increasingly its evident that the Apple, Android and Windows will lead this march of convergence into the future.

Apple leads by the experience example on a relatively modest number of its own devices. The key will be the experience factor which will power Apple as a high margin and profitable enterprise. The key challenge for Apple will be to enable experiences seamlessly across platforms and devices. Apple will not be in the game of out-innovating Android. It will be more about how well it is able to merge exepreince, interface with technology services on various platforms and devices.

Android will emerge as the mass vehicle. Being open and free will anchor a lot of innovation, some of it across some very new devices and interfaces. The key here is Android’s flexibility which will provide sound base for innovation across platform and devices. The challenge for Android will be in terms of providing a common user experience. There may not be any pure Android experience since innovation on various platforms will add to disintegration of the “pure” Android Interface and experience. This is both good and bad for Android (the Amazon example) because it would mean staying ahead of the curve at the cost of not having an interface as good as Apple.

Microsoft Windows will consolidate its Enterprise position and leverage its advantage across legacy platforms and security.  Microsoft however has been loose in bringing innovation to markets. For every Kinect, there is a surface which is not yet commissioned. However, Microsoft’s niche has to be the enterprise and with its Windows8 it is trying to establish credibility across mobility experiences. Microsoft may still be lagging the “killer app” in enterprise mobility- and a Balckberry acquisition can give it just that edge in terms of the Blackberry infrastructure. There are some reports of a acquistion afoot. Interestingly enough Blackberry has put off its QNX platform till end of 2012. If one wishes to read between the lines … a struggling Blackberry puts off QNX almost indefintely, a Microsoft is fishing for “the killer enterprise app”, RIM is a prime sell off target, Microsoft had evinced interest…. is the acquisition a near reality?? We shall see

Carrier IQ and the Surveillance state

Posted in Uncategorized by Manas Ganguly on December 12, 2011

During a recent speech to delivered at the City University in London, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said that most smartphones can be hacked remotely with ease. “Who here has an iPhone? Who here has a BlackBerry? Who here uses Gmail? Well, you’re all screwed,” Assange said during his talk, which followed the release of 287 documents related to mass surveillance. Assange explained to the crowd that more than 150 private organizations in 25 countries can easily track phones and intercept messages, browsing history, email accounts, phone calls and more remotely.

Carrier IQ refers to a suite of what can seemingly be described as spyware pre-installed on a wide range of devices by both carriers and vendors. Carrier IQ was conceptualized by Telecom carriers to understand what problems customers were having with networks or devices for action to improve service quality. It is used to collect information to understand the customer experience with devices on networks and to devise solutions to use and connection problems. The IQ tool was not allowed to look at the contents of messages, photos, videos, etc (as a moral responsibility). Carrier IQ is marketed as an analytics tool for mobile telcos, this software claims to exist to ensure good network performance.

However, a recent research published by security expert Trevor Eckhart pulled back the veil on Carrier IQ. Carrier IQ (CIQ) sells rootkit software included on many US handsets sold on Sprint, Verizon and more. Devices supported include Apple iOS devices, Androids, Blackberries, Nokias, Tablet devices and more. Rootkit is defined as software that enables access to a device unbeknown to the device’s owner. Carrier IQ defines its own solutions as “Mobile Service Intelligence solutions that have revolutionized the way mobile operators and device vendors gather and manage information from end users.” Eckhart estimates that Carrier IQ’s software is currently installed on more than 141 million handsets, and that was before references were found in Apple’s iOS software

Shortly after, Wikipedia in its report “the reality of the international surveillance industry” elaborated CIQ technology to spy mobile users across US, Canada, UK, Australia and several of the regimes in North Africa and the Middle East. The Carrier IQ technology has been used in Bahrain to track human rights activists. The malware reportedly can “record every use, movement and even sights and sounds of the room [a phone] is in.” The Wikileaks documents are particularly compelling given the recent revelation that millions of smartphones have spyware called Carrier IQ installed, an application that is capable of allowing wireless carriers to spy on their customers.

It is likely still too early to panic, however. Despite the extensive coverage this story has garnered across tech blogs and in the media, it remains unclear exactly what Carrier IQ and its clients are doing with this data. It isn’t even clear what data carriers have access to. Carrier IQ software on Android devices can log anything from usage data and location to key strokes and usage habits, but it has not been determined that this data is sent to carriers regularly or at all. Carrier IQ’s software can theoretically be used as a window through which carriers can spy on users in real-time if they so choose, but whether or not the software is used in this manner is also unclear.

But, as Assange rightly points out, the interception of this data will lead society to a “totalitarian surveillance state”, if the spying racket is really what it is about.

Presenting a snapshot of CIQ related statements issued by different handset makers and carriers.

Nintendo DS and Sony PSP loosing relevance and life on Portable Gaming!

Posted in Gaming by Manas Ganguly on November 9, 2011

Digital content distribution has disrupted several notable industries. In that context, no industry has been more impacted by digital distribution than the video games. Leading the disruption are iOS and Android devices, whose free and inexpensive games, distributed across a massive installed base of powerful and networked tablet and mobile phone form factors, have already disrupted billions of dollars of game revenue.

Portable gaming, has been dominated by Nintendo and Sony for over two decades. In this model, at retail, consumers pay around $200 for the gaming device and up to $40 for popular game cartridges. Because of the similar form factor, overlap in consumer base (especially younger players on iPod touch) and the casual nature of game content, iOS and Android devices have redefined the category. With the inclusion of smartphone revenue into the category, shifts taking place in market share become clearer.

The most striking trend is that iOS and Android games have tripled their market share from roughly 20% in 2009 to nearly 60% in just two years. Simultaneously, Nintendo, the once dominant player, has been crushed down to owning about one-third of market in 2011, from having controlled more than two-thirds in 2009. Combined, iOS and Android game revenue delivered $500 million, $800 million and $1.9 billion over 2009, 2010 and 2011, respectively.

Within the portable category, an abundance of digitally distributed free and $0.99 games, available on hardware that is both comparably priced and more powerful than traditional portable game devices, better appeals to many consumers. As a result, the days of paying $25, or more, for a cartridge at a retail store may soon end. Further, the installed base of iOS and Android devices has not only reached critical mass, but also continues to grow at unprecedented rates. In their latest public statements regarding installed base, Apple and Google reported a total of 250 million iOS devices and 190 million Android devices activated, respectively.

Due in part to its demise in the portable game category, Nintendo is facing its first fiscal year loss since the company began reporting profits in 1981. Combined with slumping Wii sales, Nintendo is indeed struggling. Equally concerning for Nintendo is that the battle for video game dominance is entering the living room, with entries by both Apple and Google into the TV category. Ostensibly, this new class of hardware will create a new platform upon which the digital distribution model of apps will be overlaid. Now, in addition to tablet form-factor competition, the console game industry, which currently pits Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo against each other, will additionally face competition from Apple and Google TV initiatives. Beyond 2011, if Nintendo continues to face financial hardship, it may be forced to consider difficult choices such as divesting its hardware business and distributing its content, for the first time, across non-proprietary platforms.

In February this year, Nokia’s CEO Stephen Elop mentioned about the burning platform in a internal memo to Nokia employees. Nintendo has a very similar problem at hand. A burning platform and hard decisions for its future – Innovate or Die!

Mobile Browsing and App sales on Android has not been linear with its popularity and growth

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems, Industry updates, Mobile Computing by Manas Ganguly on April 2, 2011

Android’s march to prominence in smartphones has been inexorable and awe-inspiring. Furthermore ABI research believes that Android will dominate the smartphone scene with 45% marketshare by 2016. However, in the present context, Android’s market share gains may be illusory and Google’s OS has serious shortcomings.

Mobile Browsing and App sales on Android has not been linear with its popularity and growth

A broad sample of millions of website visitors detailed by Google Analytics indicates that the entire Android ecosystem combined, while slightly ahead of Apple’s iPhone 4, continues to be outpaced by Apple’s iOS, largely due to the rapid growth of iPad. This mirrors additional data that underlines Apple’s lead in both mobile browsing and app sales, refuting recent reports that claim Android is displacing iOS. Despite regular reports that Google’s Android platform has passed iPhone 4 in both installed base and growth, Android’s share of web visits over the iPhone is very slight and has not grown much over the past quarter. Recent SEO reports from ROI365 places 2.89% of the website visits coming from Android vs 2.62% coming from iPhone for

Q1,2011.However, in terms of a big picture, Android has never come close to passing iOS as a whole which is current 4.97% and includes three devices: iPod,iPad and iPhone. The stats don’t just stop there, as the iOS (41.5%) growth rate tops that of Android (40.98%). So while the entire Android platform with all of their partners, models, phones and tablets has outgrown the single iPhone 4 by 40.98% to 30.35% the past 4 months, iPad is outgrowing the entire Android ecosystem so significantly [that] it more than makes up for the iPhone deficiency plus some. And it just launched 3 weeks ago and millions of people who want them can’t get their hands on them yet.

Android has multiple issues which make the eco-system a discontinuous one and Developers/Programmers writing for Android are finding the ecosystem to be perilous as far as effort-monetization and returns is concerned. Developing Apps for multiple device, multiple store is increasingly a game of diminishing returns. This compares unfavorably against Apple App Store, which provides a single store seamless and unified experience. What complicates matters for developers is also the monetization conundrum.

to be continued

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