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Behind the Smartphone Craze: redrawing the map of mobile platforms February 2, 2010

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Thought Android and iPhone are taking over the world? Think again. The device platforms map is more fragmented than ever, while the media hype distorts the commercial reality. […]

The Smartphone Craze
The other day I was reading some of the usual hype-induced reports on the Smartphone revolution. Wanting to put things into perspective I pulled out some old Smartphone forecasts from 2004-2005 by the likes of IDC, Informa and Ovum.

In those pre-historic days the main Smartphone contenders were Symbian and Windows. Blackberry was still an insignificant niche, and touch screen devices were still clunky stylus based UIQ phones and iPAQs. Yet surprisingly, the average Smartphone share of shipments that was forecast for 2010 was …about 30%. So even without the Apple & Google revolution fanning the flames, many analysts believed in the mass migration to Smartphones.

Reality check: by looking at the numbers for the first three quarters of 2009, it appears that last year there have shipped no more than 170-180 million devices considered to be Open OS Smartphones. Indeed Symbian, Windows, iPhone, Blackberry, Android, WebOS, LiMO and Maemo taken all together still only constitute about 15-17% of shipments. This percentage is in fact much lower than the 2009 Smartphone share predicted a few years ago by many research companies. […]

The bets are spreading
As of late 2009, the only companies who are shipping true Open OS Smartphones in mass volumes are Nokia (Symbian), RIM (Blackberry), Apple (iPhone) and HTC (Windows Mobile, now Android). This will no doubt start to change over the course of time as Android shipments start to ramp up and the rest of the platforms realize their growth potential, but it is still not an overnight revolution.

Looking forward, this thesis shows that the market will be much more diverse than the simplistic notion that everyone either wants an App Store capable iPhone or Droid, or alternatively, an ultra-low cost phone to make phone calls. There is many more commercial dynamics at play, making up a complex platform map which is driven by customer ownership.

In 2009 the number of available device software platforms effectively grew, creating more fragmentation in the industry, not less. There are clearly mid-range segments and geographical markets with varying needs, which can be addressed with various software platforms, not necessarily in the traditional view of Smartphones vs. RTOS “dumb phones”. Simply betting on one or two platforms to rule the industry is not a sensible plan.

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Read the full article at VisionMobile.comBehind the Smartphone Craze: redrawing the map of mobile platforms | VisionMobile :: blog

Estimated Nexus One Sales: Only 20,000 Units in the First Week January 13, 2010

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Flurry, which monitors usage of over 10,000 developers, has published some (projected) sales numbers for Google’s and HTC’s new flag ship smart phone, the Nexus One. According to Flurry, only about 20,000 Nexus Ones were sold in its first week on the market. It was outsold by Droid by more than 12 times, myTouch 3G by 3 times and iPhone 3GS by 80 times.

“To estimate first week sales totals for the Nexus One, myTouch 3G, Droid and iPhone 3GS, Flurry detected new handsets within its system, and then made adjustments to account for varying levels of Flurry application penetration by handset. Flurry additionally crosschecked its estimates against Apple actual sales, released for iPhone 3GS, which totaled more than one million units over the three days, June 19 – 21, 2009. Flurry first week sales estimates can be found in the table below.”

Nexus One was a highly anticipated mobile phone, but Google didn’t spend millions of dollars advertising it, opting for a sort of a soft launch for the device. Verizon and Motorola, on the other hand, had spent close to 100 million dollars advertising the Droid, and if Flurry’s numbers are correct, it definitely shows the difference a good advertising campaign can make.

via Estimated Nexus One Sales: Only 20,000 Units in the First Week

Droid clobbers other Android phones in Xmas app downloads December 29, 2009

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Droid-v-Others-Downloads1On Christmas Day, the number of Android app downloads from the new Droid phones roughly equaled the number of downloads from all leading Android phones combined, according to the latest report from app market analysts Flurry.

T-Mobile’s myTouch 3G and G1, and the HTC Hero sold by Sprint, totaled roughly as many apps as those downloaded the Verizon/Motorola Droid phones on December 25.

Is this the new landscape, or was it just a one-day fluke? Flurry’s head of marketing, Peter Farago, emailed in response: “In our estimation, Droid numbers will continue to drive a larger share of downloads for the foreseable future until another Android handset can displace its position as the fastest-selling Android phone. Also, we have to remember that this is the most marketed Android phone to date, and on Verizon, which has 70 million subscribers.”

Still, Apple’s App Store continues to dominate the app market. iPhone and iPod Touch users downloads thirteen times as many apps in December as all Android phone users combined, Flurry says. And Apple’s December download volume will be 51 percent higher than November’s, if Flurry’s calculations are correct. By contrast, Android Market downloads only increased 22 percent from November to December.

So while the Droid is the hotter phone right now in terms of buzz, the numbers point to Apple’s continuing dominance of the app world going into 2010.

via Droid clobbers other Android phones in Xmas app downloads | VentureBeat

The Google Phone, Unlocked (Confirmed And More Details) December 13, 2009

Posted by pannet in Mobile & Gadgets.
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Last night, we started seeing some Tweets from Google employees and others about a new Android-powered Google phone that was apparently handed out at an “all hands” meeting. Now Google is confirming that it is indeed “dogfood” testing a new Android device with employees around the world.

But this isn’t just another Android phone. Very trustworthy sources who have seen the phone say that it is the Google Phone we first wrote about last month (despite the uninformed saying we were dreaming). It will be branded Google and sold by Google as an unlocked phone, which could change everything. As we wrote in our original post:

Google is building their own branded phone that they’ll sell directly and through retailers. They were long planning to have the phone be available by the holidays, but it has now slipped to early 2010. The phone will be produced by a major phone manufacturer but will only have Google branding (Microsoft did the same thing with their first Zunes, which were built by Toshiba).

There won’t be any negotiation or compromise over the phone’s design of features – Google is dictating every last piece of it. No splintering of the Android OS that makes some applications unusable. Like the iPhone for Apple, this phone will be Google’s pure vision of what a phone should be.

The phone itself is being built by HTC, with a lot of input from Google. It seems to be a tailored version of the HTC Passion or the related HD2 […]

Here are the details we know so far about the phone: It will be called the Google Phone (update the official name is “Nexus One”) and will launch in early January, 2010. It won’t be sold by any one carrier, but instead will be an unlocked GSM phone. In the U.S., that means T-Mobile and possibly AT&T, whose exclusivity deal with the iPhone is about to run out. It will be running Android 2.1

The phone is “really, really fast,” says someone who has seen one in action. It runs on a Snapdragon chip, has a super high-resolution OLED touchscreen, is thinner than the iPhone, has no keyboard, and two mics. The mic on the back of the phone helps eliminate background noise, and it also has a “weirdly” large camera for a phone. And if you don’t like the touchscreen keyboard, a voice-to-text feature is supposed to let you dictate emails and notes by speaking directly into the phone.

Here are some more photos:
http://www.engadget.com/2009/12/14/exclusive-first-google-phone-nexus-one-photos-android-2-1-on/

via The Google Phone, Unlocked (Confirmed And More Details).

AdMob Data Reveals Android’s Growth, Device Market Share November 23, 2009

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AdMob, a mobile advertising network, which has been releasing mobile metrics for a while now and touting the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch metrics as headlines, is instead focusing on RIM, Symbian, Android and even Windows Mobile devices in its October 2009 mobile metrics report. I guess when you are soon going to be part of Google, why give arch-nemesis, Apple and its iPhone any airtime. AdMob is in the process of being acquired by Google for $750 million. The report has some interesting facts about Android and gives a rough breakdown on the success or lack there of of various different Android devices. As always, the data from AdMob which serves display and text ads on 15,000 mobile websites and applications, is limited in scope but is broad enough to be a barometer for the larger market trends.

* HTC has taken an early lead, thanks to availability of three different devices.
* Motorola Droid launched on November 6 already represented 24 percent of all Android requests in AdMob’s network worldwide even though the device is available only in the US.
* Worldwide requests from Android devices increased 5.8 times since April 2009 in the AdMob network.
* In the US, Android has 20 percent share of smartphone traffic versus 7 percent in April 2009.
* The Motorola CLIQ generated 6% of Android traffic worldwide as on November 18th 2009.
* Worldwide requests from RIM devices increased 44 percent over the last six months in the AdMob network.

Just to be sure, AdMob does include data about iPhone in its report. the iPhone and iPod Touch collectively accounted for about 33 percent of total requests up 6.9 percent for the month. In US, the total share of Apple is about 35 percent, up 7.5 percent for the month.

 

via AdMob Data Reveals Android’s Growth, Device Market Share.

Smartphone Success Centers on Software, Not Hardware November 19, 2009

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Telecom gear vendor ZTE will step up its game in the crowded smartphone space next year with an Android-based handset, and Google is rumored to be working on its own device. But as the smartphone market continues to heat up, manufacturers are learning the hard way that the key to success in mobile phones lies in the software — not the hardware.

Handset manufacturers are increasingly being elbowed out of the way as carriers embrace developers of operating systems and the apps that run on top of them. Motorola, for instance, is an afterthought in Verizon’s big-budget campaign in support of its Droid initiative, and HTC’s brand is nowhere to be found in T-Mobile’s recent commercial pushing the MyTouch 3G. Meanwhile, Nokia continues to fare poorly in the U.S. due largely to its unwillingness to capitulate to American carriers, and smaller manufacturers like Sony Ericsson are becoming irrelevant as they lose market share.

Two phone makers are bucking the trend, though, and they’re doing it by churning out handsets based on their own operating systems. Apple’s iPhone has become an iconic device thanks largely to its intuitive user interface and knockout browser, while Research In Motion continues to gain traction — and mind share — with its BlackBerry, an enterprise-focused handset with software that stresses functionality over fun. Both Apple and RIM are backing their hardware with ad campaigns that put the manufacturer — not the carrier — in front of consumers.

HTC is fighting back with its impressive “You” television commercials, which tout the phone’s Sense user interface and promotes the device’s personalization features. That’s a strategy that will pay dividends as manufacturers become marginalized in mobile, and as software increasingly becomes a key differentiator in the minds of consumers.

via Smartphone Success Centers on Software, Not Hardware.

The Google Phone Is Very Real. And It’s Coming Soon November 18, 2009

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[…] Most of our sources have unconfirmed information, which we describe below. But there are a few things we have absolutely confirmed: Google is building their own branded phone that they’ll sell directly and through retailers. They were long planning to have the phone be available by the holidays, but it has now slipped to early 2010. The phone will be produced by a major phone manufacturer but will only have Google branding Microsoft did the same thing with their first Zunes, which were built by Toshiba.

There won’t be any negotiation or compromise over the phone’s design of features – Google is dictating every last piece of it. No splintering of the Android OS that makes some applications unusable. Like the iPhone for Apple, this phone will be Google’s pure vision of what a phone should be.

That’s it for confirmed, super-high confidence information, which frankly isn’t a whole lot more than we all heard back in late October. But we also have a few more details as well that we’ve gathered from a number of sources. Everything that follows we still consider to be just well-sourced rumors:

One source told us that HTC, a Taiwanese company, is building the new Google phone, but we think that information is incorrect. We have some fairly good information that suggests Google is working with a Korean phone manufacturer on the Google phone – LG or Samsung. Samsung has multiple parts in the iPhone and could be pressured by Apple not to work with Google, which says LG is the more likely partner for Google. So rumors like this one may be much more important than they first appear. But either way, the best information we have right now points directly at Korea as the birthplace of the Google Phone.

We’ve also heard from a good source that Google is planning a big advertising push around the device early next year – like January.

That’s all we have for now. We don’t yet know what the device will look like, how big it will be, or even if it has a physical keyboard. But we do know that Google is getting into the phone building business directly, and doesn’t seem too concerned about competing with all the other device manufacturers building Android phones.

via The Google Phone Is Very Real. And It’s Coming Soon.

Samsung Bada unveiled as new iPhone, Android platform rival November 11, 2009

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Samsung, the world’s second largest phone maker globally after Nokia, has announced Bada as its own new smartphone platform which it hopes to use to gain entry into the sophisticated phone market.

Samsung’s Bada, the Korean word for “ocean,” is reportedly built on top of Linux and is expected to be released with an open SDK next month, with the first Bada phones to be introduced early next year. Unlike Symbian or Android, Samsung appears to be developing its new mobile platform and software market solely for the benefit of its own phones, much like RIM, Apple, and Palm.

Searching for a smartphone platform

The company’s current smartphone lineup is about 80% Windows Mobile and 20% Symbian. A year ago, the company released the new Windows Mobile Omnia as its flagship offering, but followed up this year with the Omnia HD using Symbian instead, a move identical to Sony Ericsson’s release of the Windows Mobile Xperia X1 followed by this year’s Symbian-based Idou.

Also like Sony Ericsson, Samsung announced plans earlier this year to back Android instead of Symbian in the future, with an announcement that 30% of its phones next year would use Android. That expansion was expected to come from reduced use of Windows Mobile, but now Samsung is indicating that it will phase out Symbian entirely, drastically reduce the use of Windows Mobile, and introduce the new Bada as its preferred smartphone operating system.

HMC investment securities analyst Greg Noh outlined Samsung’s expected smartphone mix showing Symbian completely phased out by 2011, and Samsung’s own Bada making up half of its portfolio by 2012, with the remainder being about 30% Android and 20% Windows Mobile.

Another big phone maker eyes a world outside of Android

In the general mobile phone market, Samsung has been making incremental progress toward leader Nokia with around 20% of the global phone market. It currently sells more phones than the rest of the top five makers (LG, Sony Ericsson and Motorola) combined. In smartphones however, Samsung has just recently broke into the top five vendors, well behind Nokia, RIM, Apple, and HTC with sales of just 1.4 million in the most recent quarter, the same figure as last year. With the growth in smartphones, that contributed to Samsung’s market share of advanced phones actually slipping slightly year over year.

Android advocates widely expected Samsung to warmly adopt Google’s platform, as it provides a free alternative to the Windows Mobile software the company currently uses. Instead, Samsung is following Nokia’s lead in working to maintain its own destiny independent of Google. Nokia is both sponsoring the Symbian Foundation and its own Maemo Linux distribution.

Samsung’s interest in creating and managing its own smartphone platform also reflects the interests of second place smartphone vendor RIM and its BlackBerry OS, and Apple in third place with the iPhone. Palm has followed a similar strategy with its own proprietary WebOS.

Is a smartphone vendor experienced with using third party software from Microsoft and Symbian, Samsung’s interest in developing and maintaining its own proprietary platform rather than trying to adapt Android to create differentiated phones in a competitive market is a dramatic refutal of the conventional thinking that Android will explode among vendors next year.

Instead, Samsung’s considerable resources will be devoted toward its own new platform, creating more competition and differentiation in options among smartphone platforms and reducing the energy being channeled toward licensed operating systems, with Windows Mobile being the biggest loser (with the loss of around 1.2 million of the 3.6 million Windows Mobile phones that shipped in Q3 2009), Symbian losing a significant licensee entirely, and Android facing a rival new marketplace for mobile software.

Samsung expects to release more information to developers about its SDK plans next month via its Bada website.

via AppleInsider | Samsung Bada unveiled as new iPhone, Android platform rival

HTC release Hero kernel source code: modders rub hands with glee – SlashGear October 23, 2009

Posted by hruf in Mobile & Gadgets, Programming.
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HTC have quietly answered many Android developer’s prayers, and pushed out the kernel source code for the Hero smartphone.  Available to download now – though admittedly of little use to most of us – it opens up the potential for much more modification of the Hero with custom ROMs.

htc hero kernel source code 540x170

Since the Hero’s launch, Android developers have been pestering HTC for full access to its code. The release will likely mean we’ll see some of the more popular custom ROMs – which have in the past tweaked the GUI, brought elements of another manufacturers customization (such as MOTOBLUR) to rival devices, and increased stability faster than manufacturers themselves have been able to – showing up optimized for the Hero now.

via HTC release Hero kernel source code: modders rub hands with glee – SlashGear.

Android Donut Interface Makes Us Forget All About Palm Pre May 19, 2009

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Palm what? A better look Android “Donut” build for the HTC Hero shows us just how buttery smooth and slick Android can be, and it’s incredible.

via Gizmodo – Android Donut Interface Makes Us Forget All About Palm Pre – android donut