Ronnie05's Blog

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

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The story behind Nokia Meltemi

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on October 11, 2011

Nokia has been risking an “also ran” tag in the mobile phone markets it used to dominate till about a few quarters back. It is already marginalized in the Smartphone segment and provided the WP-Nokia deal works out great, Nokia is already a thing of yesterday in smartphones. Nokia’s decision not to compete in the US markets and moving out of other hyper smartphone markets such as Japan indicate the weakness.Just as Nokia has been out-innovated in the smartphone market in recent years, the company has been slow to adapt in developing markets where share is being stripped by other big players and gray market handset vendors alike

As Nokia fights to regain its footing, the company recently abandoned Symbian and MeeGo to instead adopt Windows Phone in an effort to stabilize its declining smartphone business. But that move only addresses half of Nokia’s problem. A firm position in the big-margin smartphone market will be paramount to the vendor’s success moving forward, but the market for low-cost devices is still massive. Just as Nokia’s smartphone sales have spiraled downward in recent quarters, Nokia’s feature phone business been in sharp decline as well. Nokia took drastic measures in an effort to turn its smart device business around, and with the announcement of Meltemi, it appears as though the Finnish phone maker also has plans for its low-end phones.

Towards the later purpose, Nokia is developing a Linux-based operating system code-named “Meltemi”. The Meltemi will allow the phone maker to offer devices with smart capabilities at rock bottom prices, extending well beyond the company’s potential reach with Windows Phone in emerging markets. Meltemi will be the Linux based replacement for the Symbian S40 platform that has been workhorse at Nokia. Now with the UI and Apps taking the centre piece in Mobile OS, Symbian S40 wasnt cutting the ice. The choice of Linux is but obvious given that Linux with opensource code makes development easier and cheaper.

Phones powered by Nokia’s Meltemi operating system will not be smartphones at all, and the standings of Windows Phone with Nokia doesn’t change a bit.The new platform is on the one hand very much aligned with Nokia’s mobile phone strategy stated earlier in the year (‘connecting one billion to the internet…’), but it’s also a competitive response to the newest trend seen in the gray handsets markets in the emerging world. China vendors are producing quasi-smartphones, another potentially unmet demand segment at significantly low prices based on the MTK chipsets.

Meltemi will come into play, providing a smartphone lookalike that will essentially be a feature phone to address the demand for these phones in the emerging world and, Nokia hopes, preempt competition from the gray market vendors as well as their main nemesis in this segment – Samsung.

Nokia-WP partnership and the upcoming Nokia-WP Mango smartphones have been hogging the limelight ever since the “burning platform” declaration by Stephen Elop. Windows Phone is only part of the puzzle Nokia is now in the process of piecing together, and its upcoming proprietary OS will play an equally important role in helping Nokia re-establish its position as a global leader.

Why did HP fail to leverage Web OS

Posted in Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on August 19, 2011

When Palm introduced the Pre, it represented a major threat to the iPhone. It was a beautiful vessel for WebOS, an elegant operating system built to solve all of the problems users had with Apple’s darling. Today, after two scant years, the phone and its subsequent tablet are dead, and any hope for future webOS products would be foolish. It is quite amazing as to how good technology, backed by the most powerful brands in the business, fall so far so fast

In April 2010, HP purchased Palm in its entirety with the intent of launching a family of webOS devices to compete with Apple. This year, the new owner inauspiciously launched several phones and a tablet, none of which lived up to reviewers’ measured expectations. The first failure of webOS was the original Pre, the Pixi, then of course the Pre 2, the Veer and now the TouchPad.HP possibly reaad the Touchpad and tablets wrong, and had to drop prices by 20% 15 days from launch. The Veer is so small and ergonomically awkward to use that many people were wondering why launch such a device after Microsoft’s fiasco with the Kin line of phones.Developers continued to ignore the platform, and so did customers.

HP is officially discontinuing operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones. HP says that it will continue to explore options to optimize the value of webOS software going forward. However, since the prior sentence pretty much proclaims that webOS has no value, this is the same as saying they will multiply X by zero, and see what they get. For many who would have liked to see the emergence of WebOS as a mobile platform underdog—the HP-Palm acquisition was a waste. HP was not able to leverage on any of Palm’s strengths and deliver any thing noteworthy either in smartphone or tablet space. So then, did HP really have any concrete roadmap of what it would have done with WebOS after the acquisition. On Hindsight now, it seems that HP was intent spending $1.25 billion and did so with a lack of clarity and forthcoming thought.

1. Being slightly better isn’t good enough. Reviews back in 2009 proclaimed the Palm Pre better than the iPhone in many ways. But almost every itemized advantage, from multitasking apps to better alerts, were things that could easily be adopted. Both the dominant iPhone and the struggling cub that was Android were able to learn from the Pre’s webOS, and co-opt what mattered. Interestingly, in a year or more time, the WebOS platform did not show any development whereas iOS and Android caught up.Fast forward to this year, when HP introduced a webOS tablet that wasn’t even “slightly better,” by any reviewer’s estimates, and the story just becomes sadder.

2. Fighting the mobile device fight takes limitless resources. I really mean “limitless,” as in, no end in sight. Apple, Google and Microsoft can hammer away for a long time, building device after device, revising software and hardware in the depths of their subterranean laboratories, meeting with partners in secret, all the while filing and acquiring patents and of course, suing the pants off each other. With the exception of perhaps Amazon, not many other companies can do this. HP could have done this, but in light of the current events, it seems that HP’s priorities have changed or at-least shifted.

3. There’s no room for also-rans. When Palm entered this battle, it was a fight over phones that could give you email and surf the Web. Now it’s about operating systems that run applications. Developers spend all their time and resources on one, maybe two, platforms, honing their apps and services. That’s why there’s a precipitous drop between the number of apps available for iOS and Android products, and those for any other system. WebOS had a slick interface, but no development. (This lack of development has also plagued RIM.)

4. Consumers, like horses, smell fear and desert. The biggest telltale sign that neither Palm nor HP was certain of their joined fate was the dead silence that followed the acquisition. What few phone launches had occurred between summer 2009 and spring 2011 were marginal, and the woulda-coulda iPad killer was nowhere to be seen. So when a company launches a long-delayed product, with a speech full of excuses as to why it’s not better, negative reviews aren’t necessary. The would-be buyers already know to steer clear.

5. HP is in the PC business. It’s very hard for HP and Dell to break free of their Windows roots, because all of their attempts to branch out are effectively funded by Windows PC sales. PC sales are dropping, as the makers and Microsoft itself know all too well, but it still represents billions of dollars in sales, where these nascent phone platforms actually lose money. So for HP to say that it plans to go into the webOS tablet business, at a time when Microsoft is planning to launch its own tablet-friendly version of Windows, represents internal conflict for both the product developers and the bean counters.

It is incredibly unfortunate how a large company like HP failed to leverage the power of WebOS and create a future in consumer mobility. Now sure if it was lack of vision and action ensuing from it or it was a change of business strategy that prompted HP to volte-face. However what has happened is that WebOS has suffered as a reason. The best chance for WebOS is if somebody buys it out from HP…. possibly Facebook.

Q1,2011 Smartphone market shares: Canalys

Posted in Applications and User Interfaces, Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on May 5, 2011

1. Smartphones globally have grown by 83% to 101m (In Q1,2011) from 55.2m (In Q1,2010). However the markets have been flat Q1, 2011 over Q4.2011 with sales at 101million.
2. As against an estimated 80-84 million PCs shipped in the quarter, Smartphones have over sold PCs second quarter in succession.
3. Android, Apple and Bada have grown in the flat market whereas Symbian, Blackberry, Windows phones and others have lost footing.


Click to enlarge

4. APAC emerges as the largest market for smartphones accounting for 40% of smartphone shipments (inspite of Japan’s poor show due to the earthquake). APAC has doubled its smartphone shipments (37.3 million) with biggest smartphone growths registered in China, South Korea and India.
5. US remained the largest country for smartphone shipments. Apple has substantially extending its lead, achieving a share of 31% device market share and growth of over 150% year on year. Volumes were boosted significantly by shipments of the iPhone 4 with Verizon Wireless. Android remained the leading smart phone platform in the US for the third consecutive quarter, with a 49% share. Growing by well over 200%, HTC became the leading Android vendor in the US and the second-place smart phone vendor in the country overall.


Click to enlarge

6. Android emerges as the No.1 OS second quarter in succession and the trend does not look like changing any time soon in the future. Canalys expects Android to grow twice as fast as others in 2011. Android has registered a 35% market share, up by 7.2% against Q4,2010. Overall, Android shipments were helped by strong sales by its vendors including HTC, Samsung, LG, Motorola and Sony Ericsson.
7. Nokia’s lost 15% share points and dropped from 39% smartphone share (with 21.5 mln volumes) in Q1,2010 to 24% in Q1,2011 (with 24mln volumes). Of these 9mln Nokia smartphones were sold alone in China and APAC region shipments contributed for 53% of Nokia global smartphone sales. Nokia sales fell 22% QOQ. Nokia has launched a few Symbian based smartphones which are expected to help Nokia’s smartphone numbers before it gives way into WP7 early next year. Nokia is under considerable strain in the smartphone market as it transitions strategy, platforms and people and that is showing through.
8. Apple with its double operator/ CDMA phone strategy grew 18% over Q4,2010.
9. Blackberry also shared the similar faith as Nokia with the wind being knocked out of its sails and registered a 4% QOQ drop. It returned a 14% market share in Q1, 2011 as against 19% in Q1,2011.
10. Samsung shipped nearly 3.5m phones running its Bada OS – which Canalys says outstripped total shipments of Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS, launched in the fourth quarter of 2010. This shows that there is still room for multiple operating systems, and that vendors can benefit from maintaining control of device development to hit the right markets and price points.

WebOS: MIA but a force in reckoning

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems by Manas Ganguly on May 2, 2011

Even as iOS, Androids, WP7, Blackberry 7, Symbian and more are engaged in a bloody battle for supremacy in the OS space, Palm-HP’s WebOS, hasn’t really been the feature in any discussion and HP seems content at WebOS’s MIA status. Why would one be concerned with WebOS in the first place? That’s because Fanboys world over have been debating that the WebOS is the true blue competitor to Apple’s iOS in a digitally connected world. How can one compare an iOS that has an installed base of more than 10 million devices and has enabled 10 billion app downloads to a rookie OS which is yet to hit the road. More so, research agencies such as Gartner donot feature the WebOS as a sizeable competitor in forecasts up to 2015.

HP has already launched new generation WebOS products such as HP Veer, Pre 3 and Touchpad. The specs of Pre 3 and Touchpad are frighteningly close to the bests in the competition.

So what might the success factors for WebOS be?
1. WebOS is as optimized as it gets for touch screen devices and was built ground up for touch devices. That puts it beyond the reckoning of Symbian and BB already. This puts it in par with the iOS.
2. WebOS will feature across a cluster of device categories which would include the tablet, smartphone and laptop. (Would loved to have seen TV there as well)
3. Sharp features on the UI such as Cards (instead of home screens) to group apps. Again at par with iOS.
4. The WebOS will be cloud ready at launch and the Synergy feature would automatically back up data on the cloud eliminating the need of a synch.
5. Touchstone features such as bump to share and induction charging would be other differentiators in the pack.

WebOS’s weaknesses
1. Absence of an ecosystem to support the app hungry users. By the time, WebOS surfaces, developers would be more engrossed in Apple, Android and WP7 to cause a crisis of quality apps for WebOS.
2. While Palm has some presence in US, the game is to step it up world over and though HP has the muscle, this may take longer than expected.

The WebOS could be a huge threat to incumbents such as BB and Symbian. Even Android with its issues of fragmentation could feel the challenge from WebOS. With its bells and whistles, WebOS actually closes on the king, iOS and while many have written the WebOS off, it could really be the fight of this decade between WebOS and others going forward. HP needs to get the launch dates and pricing right….

OS and Device agnostic Application platforms

Posted in Applications and User Interfaces, Value added services and applications by Manas Ganguly on February 2, 2011

Openwave (provider of context-aware mediation and messaging solutions) has announced Amplicity, a new browser-based concept, which would deliver apps seamlessly across different OSs and devices in an operator network. This is designed to enable developers to leverage valuable mobile operator network assets to more rapidly create and deliver applications within the browser. The intent is to enable developers to address hardware and software fragmentation through the use of web technologies, including HTML5. In order to improve the distribution process. Developers have always been making an effort to reach out to as many end users and devices as possible. The ability to build one application and have it reach as many users as possible without having to write different versions for different platforms and devices would benefit developers. Operators have always been an essential part of the internet ecosystem, and the data they possess is the key to beating over-the-top players in the battle for consumer mindshare. Openwave Amplicity allows operators to open up their networks to developers and third-party content providers to ultimately create smarter applications that rely on contextual information.

Using Openwave Amplicity, developers will be able to market their applications to consumers and enterprise customers across a number of platforms, which will enable them to monetize these applications through contextual advertising. The Operating System (OS) application development scenario is currently heavily segmented, which poses huge challenges to mobile application developers. Various versions of the same OS keep arriving into the market with continuous development of the platforms, while the developers also find it difficult to design applications compatible with all the mobile devices due to a vast difference in form factors and capabilities of hardware available today. Openwave Amplicity offers a cross-platform footprint based upon HTML-5 to address this issue and provides developers with enhanced OS, hardware and software compatibility. It also offers a more customized browsing experience to the consumers, who will be able to receive contextually relevant advertising and marketing offers on their mobile phones.

Google Chrome, Cloud and the new laptops

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems, The cloud and the open source by Manas Ganguly on January 22, 2011

Google has been mulling as to how it extends the Chrome browser into a full operating system. A month back, Chrome started shipping a first run of test units so that developers, reporters and analysts could begin to evaluate Google’s efforts. Chrome is part of one of Google’s efforts to develop an operating system for laptops that does just about everything inside a browser window. To put it the other way around the computing experience shifts into the browser and the OS shifts the clouds. Netbooks using the Chrome will not require large 160 GB hard drives since all the OS functionalities and the data is moved into the cloud.

The idea of network computers that deliver all their functionality from somewhere other than the hard drive has been around for more than a decade. Sun and Oracle tried to jump start the market, but it is the power of the clouds, Google and HTML5 which would make this network computing OS a reality. The question is whether Google has created a new environment that will challenge more traditional PC operating systems such as Mac OS and Windows, or whether Chrome will be the latest challenger that ends up with niche success at best.

Booting Chrome OS takes about 15 seconds, and resuming from sleep takes about a second. (We have Apple’s latest MacBookAir performing the same trick with élan)

The magic of HTML5 means there’s a plethora of apps in Google’s Chrome store that work well.
However, its the simplicity of Chrome OS that could make it powerful. Imagine logging on to any computer in the world with your Google account and seeing exactly your own home-screen. This kind of a computing experience has a lot of appeal.
Google is clearly envisioning a future where more and more value for more and more users can be delivered via the Web in a way that makes it all easier to use and manage. While, Chrome OS notebooks aren’t going to take over the market anytime soon, but this platform is going to push things forward as businesses look to simplify the computing platforms they support. The trend that Chrome OS represents will only accelerate as more HTML5 apps deliver richer experiences over time.

End of Road for Symbian?

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems, Mobile Computing by Manas Ganguly on October 1, 2010

The once mighty Symbian Operating system is now loosing its mighty patrons. A few days back, Sony Ericsson confirmed the end of its roadmap for Symbian based smartphones. (Symbian based smartphones: What was that?). Samsung today followed suit and announced that it was dropping support for Symbian work before the end of 2011. Development labs, forums and reference content will be pulled by the morning of December 31. Samsung will also stop certifying Symbian apps by the same day and leave companies with no option but to use other forums or switch platforms. Most of Samsung’s attention in 2010 has been placed almost exclusively on Android where Symbian has been non-existent, Windows Mobile has been downplayed and its self-made Bada platform is still on just a small number of devices.


The Fall of the High and Mighty and the rise of the Android Phenomemon

If that was a double whammy for Symbian, Nokia’s stealth moves of investing into Meego as an alternate platform for its smartphones is surely the start of the end for Symbian. Nokia may not dump Symbian fully yet, biut would marginalize the platform only for its low end and feature phones stable.

Symbian is modernizing significantly with Symbian^3, which finally supports multi-touch and other more recent smartphone features, but until now has been criticized for an unintuitive interface and lacking more common features like a modern web browser and advanced media support. Many of Symbian’s one-time loyal partners had already scaled back many of their plans as continuing to use the platform hurt their performance relative to the iPhone and even the BlackBerry. Android so far has been the only major, cross-manufacturer mobile OS to challenge the closed but integrated Apple and RIM platforms.

As Symbian falls, Android rises. Almost all of Symbian’s (and WinMo’s) loss is translating into Android’s gain and it certainly looks like Android’s path to the No.1 OS (in terms of units/market share) is very clear.

iOS versus Android: All in way of massifying Mobile Internet!

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on September 8, 2010

The Inevitable has started to happen, or so it seems if Quantcast is to be believed. Quantcast, a web metrics firm has in its August data laid bare the fact that while Apple’s iOS remains the leading mobile operating system in the United States for accessing the web, but Google’s Android OS is catching up fast.As of the end of August, iOS, which powers the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, accounted for 56% of mobile web activity, while Android phones accounted for 26% and Research In Motion’s BlackBerry OS was a distant third and accounted for 9%.

Apple’s iPhone has seen a solid reversal of its downward trend since the introduction of the iPhone 4, however, this is offset for iOS share by the decline of the iPod Touch. The latest Android smartphones are hot – three models, the HTC Incredible, Sprint Evo 4G (also by HTC) and most recently the Motorola Droid X have all gained rapid adoption. The chart below summarizes these recent models along with the benchmark for Android handsets, the original Motorola Droid.


Whats moving up as a trend is that the iOS has been losing ground to Android steadily over the last year.Over the last year, iOS use for accessing the web has fallen 11%, while Android has risen 17%. RIM’s BlackBerry OS saw a 10% drop.

Another report by Nielsen estimates that Smartphone use was up 23% from the first quarter of 2010, to 25% of the U.S. mobile phone population. This is compared with 16% penetration in the second quarter of 2009 and by the end of 2011, the firm is projecting, smartphones will overtake feature phones. Mobile internet usage will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.7%, much faster than the CAGR of 2.1% expected in mobile subscribers over the same period

The numbers are important because as more mobile phone users head to the web, so will the opportunity for advertisers. In addition, retailers and other businesses will benefit in being able to offer services based on the location of the mobile phone users. An increasing number of mobile phones are shipping with GPS capabilities, leading the way to a proliferation in location-based services.

Froyo seeks to level ground with iOS: Here’s how

Posted in Computing and Operating Systems by Manas Ganguly on July 17, 2010

Antennagate: Thats what the folks at Apple termed the failure Antenna glitch in their iPhone 4G which is now assuming the status of a colossal mistake. Steve Jobs and his team have come clean on the mistake and are working double time to provide solutions to the Antennagate. A few analysts are of the view that Apple should pull the plugs on iPhone 4G, which to me looks to be an over reaction and a less prudent move.However it does put a half stop to the Apple Juggernaut which was rolling full steam. That to me is not the biggest of Apple’s worries.

To me its the rapidly maturing Android platform, that has the greatest potential to give Apple and Steve Jobs a headache. While Android is still a few blocks behind iOS4, Google has been accelerating fast and sure to catch up with the iPhone OS. The Android 2.2 Froyo will almost level the playing filed with iOS4 on the smartphone space. The Gingerbread edition of Android is expected to level the differences with iOS on the Tablet space.

On the Froyo versus iOS4 bit, Froyo would be coming good over the iOS4 lead on the following accounts:
1. Faster Speed with the native apps. Closes space with iOS4
2. Ability to run Flash. Complete Differentiator
3. Support for Microsoft Exchange. Closes space with iOS4
4. Better Service rates through the Tethering feature. Cost differentiation for high speed internet tariffs.
5. An Android market which keeps getting better. Closing the gap with iOS4.
6. Getting better on the browser and leaving iOS behind.
7. The sheer numbers of OEMs supporting the platform
8. Pitching for the Enterprise bit

Detailing the Froyo versus iOS further:

It is time for Apple to be concerned about Android, its chief competitor. The Froyo release will be the most significant Android release as it delivers functionality which could rival Apple’s iOS4. The real battle between Android and iOS has now begun and the Antenagate has already ruined iPhone 4’s debut.

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