Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Android phones outsell iOS phones so why don't Android tablets beat up on iPads?

This seems like such an obvious question I'm amazed I've not seen it addressed more often. Android promoters gloat that their "platform" leads in sales but never explain why their tablets don't do the same. I have a theory. When most people buy a smartphone, they are thinking about its capabilities as a "phone". How many minutes do I get? Which carrier do I prefer? Is there a family plan? etc. The "smart"phone, i.e. computer aspect, is secondary. They may never address the operating system or the app stores since they are thinking in terms of replacing an old phone. Starting with that premise, anyone searching for a phone would more likely end up with Android - they are everywhere and many are less expensive than iPhones.

Buying a tablet is a different proposition. Consumers have no tablet experience so they have no natural starting point. This forces them down one of two paths. A few realize they are really buying a computer and investigate all the relevant technology and many are likely to go with Android. Most people though just buy what is available in most stores (iPad) or what their cool friends have (iPad). One of Apple's stealth moves with the first iPad was to place it in major retail outlets last year - Best Buy, Target, WalMart and Radio Shack - in addition to it's own 300+ stores worldwide. This leaves precious little prime shelf space for competing tablets.

If many smartphone purchasers aren't doing much critical thinking as I've suggested - after all they're just buying a phone - the companies may be forced to sell primarily based on price - as in the PC arena. While they may sell a lot of excellent Android handsets, they may not make sufficient profit to survive in spite of the sales figures. And speaking of sales figures, remember the difference between "shipped" and "sold". Sold is what matters; shipped means sent to retailers where they might languish for months before being sold - or returned to the maker.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Android fragmentation - the elephant in the room

If there's one issue that haunts the Android "industry" it's the widely discussed problem of fragmentation. Dozens of companies (Motorola, HTC, etc.) make hundreds of Android models to be sold by numerous carriers, in retail stores and online. There are differences in the phones - different size screens, virtual or physical keyboards, price, etc. Having choices is certainly appealing - with the iPhone it's black or white, literally. However Android choices can be very confusing for someone trying to find the "right" phone - like the potato chip aisle at the quickstop - way too many choices.

Imagine if your one year old PC did not qualify
for the latest version of Windows.

This seems in some ways like the battle between Apple and Microsoft for PC dominance but there is a significant difference. If fragmentation in the PC world had been harmful, Apple would have been the logical beneficiary because there were hundreds of PC manufacturers over the years. But PCs were not all that different - they used the same processors, the same disk drives, the same keyboards, etc. so differences were either minor cosmetic factors or price. Most importantly they all ran the same operating system and most could be reliably upgraded for at least five years. 

iPhone 4S one month later - a Siri-ous new development

I previewed the iPhone 4S last month the day after its introduction and I now have two weeks of actual use under my belt. I used it in my office as well as to give a presentation at an international conference. Yes, you can do a great slide show by connecting your iPhone 4 or 4S to a projector. My draft of last month's discussion actually referred to the iPhone 5. It's pretty amazing that dozens of companies were involved in the development of the device and millions were manufactured and the experts were still guessing at the name until the formal announcement.

Predictions concerning hardware where generally accurate - faster processor, much improved camera, more memory, etc. I received mine October 14th - the first available date - and I along with the overwhelming number of reviewers were thrilled with the device. In particular the camera and camera app are outstanding.

The more databases Siri connects to,
the less searches will be performed on Google..

The other half of the announcement was the new operating system - iOS 5. This free evolutionary OS upgrade claims over 200 new features and runs on all recent iPods, iPhones and iPads (see Fragmentation below). To top it off the biggest announcement of the day was not the phone -