Tag Archives: Nexus One

2012 could be a dangerous year for Android

Google exec hints Android 5.0 will launch in the autumn:

Speaking to Computerworld, Hiroshi Lockheimer, vice president of engineering for mobile at Google, suggested Android 5.0 will launch in the fall. He stated “In general, the Android release cadence is one major release a year with some maintenance releases that are substantial still.”

Since its launch, Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) has got just one percent of the overall Android market. It’s currently shipping on a handful of phones, with a few tablets also announced. Few existing phones or tablets have got upgrades, beyond the “Pure Google” Nexus devices (and if you have the Nexus One, you’re out of luck).

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Why the “customer” for Android is advertisers (and why it doesn’t matter)

Gruber:

It is that the consumer is Google’s product. Android is a delivery system to serve the consumer to Google’s target market — the advertisers. So Google’s customer for Android is not the consumer (with the arguable exception of the Nexus phones), but rather the carriers.

He’s right, and he’s wrong. It’s a bit like saying “magazines are the delivery system to serve the consumer to advertisers” – it’s true, in a literal sense, but it makes absolutely no difference to the qualities of the product itself. Why? Because, like magazines, if the product isn’t attractive to consumers, it won’t attract them enough for it to also be a viable “delivery system” for advertisers. The moment you stop thinking that your customer is the consumer, you’ll fail to make a product that works for your real customer (the advertiser).

Just like magazines, in order for it to be attractive to consumers, Google has to forget that Android is a delivery system for advertisers. Just as magazines developed the “Chinese wall” system that kept advertising and editorial apart, so Google has to have a Chinese wall between the people who develop Android and advertising. Google, like Apple, has to solely focus on the needs of consumers.

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WiFi tethering and the iPhone: Battery life?

John Brownlee at CoM:

“It seems likely, then, that as soon as the Verizon iPhone comes out, Apple will pump an official iOS update for all devices down the pipeline, bringing the Hotspot app to all devices, including iPads. Naturally, the carriers probably have some control over how a subscriber can use that Hotspot app on their existing plans, but it seems pretty likely that all iPhone owners will be able to tether their devices to their 3G connection via WiFi soon enough.”

Phone companies do have ways of spotting people tethering, the easiest being massive spikes in data usage. But some Android users have had tethering built-in for a while (notably on the stock Nexus One), and I’ve yet to hear of anyone having problems.

What I’ve found using tethering occasionally on my Nexus One, though, is that it reduces the battery life massively: an hour of use, and it’s gone. By comparison, a dedicated device like the 3 MiFi 2 gives me several hours, easily.

Given that Apple focuses hard on battery life, and making sure that no app drains the battery too much, it will be interesting to see what its done to stop WiFi sharing killing your battery in record time.

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HTC Bravo head-to-head with Google Nexus One?

When I predicted that Google wouldn’t launch its own phone, one of the reasons I believed it was unlikely was that everything pointed to it being a rebadged HTC Bravo (otherwise known as the HTC Passion). While I was wrong about Google launching its own phone, I was right about the rebadge job – and it seems that it may be the Bravo, not the Nexus One, which is heading into the UK retail market.

The HTC Bravo, of course, will feature the company’s Sense UI, as featured on the HTC Hero (video below).

As I said prior to Nexus One’s launch, the one thing that Google can’t do is offer a phone which has “better” Android software on it, which means that its partners get to offer customised and in some cases better UIs. This is the problem that Google faces: Unlike Apple with its iPhone, it doesn’t own the hardware and software.

The rumours are that the HTC Bravo will launch in the UK on Orange with others to follow. Certainly, I’d expect more Bravo’s to be sold than Nexus Ones.

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Google finds out retailing is harder than it looks

It looks like Google is finding out that being a retailer selling hardware is a bit harder than it looks:

“Google is being inundated with complaints about its Nexus One phone. The touchscreen smartphone was launched on 5 January and can be bought direct from Google and used on almost any phone network. But confusion over who should answer customer queries has led many to file complaints on support forums. Many people are unhappy with Google only responding to questions by e-mail and are calling for it to set up phone-based support.”

Of course, that’s even if customers are sure who they’re supposed to be calling:

“If you buy a Nexus One manufactured by HTC, directly from Google’s Web site, and use it with T-Mobile’s wireless network–who do you call when you have a problem? Google is only accepting support requests via e-mail, and users are getting bounced between T-Mobile and HTC as neither seems equipped to answer complaints, or willing to accept responsibility for supporting the Nexus One.”

One of the reasons that I was convinced that Google wouldn’t be stupid enough to try going into the business of selling its own-branded phone was exactly this: it has no support infrastructure, and no real experience of customer service:

“Google doesn’t have the infrastructure or experience to support a sizeable consumer hardware project. It has no support system, no outlets, no distribution – in short, none of the things that what would be a major hardware launch actually requires. Neither does it have any experience in consumer hardware products.”

The bit that I got wrong was underestimating Google’s hubris – it was, in fact, stupid enough to try selling its own-branded phone via its own website, supported by itself.

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Fred Wilson’s brave mobile experiment

Fred Wilson did something brave: he dictated a blog post using the voice recognition system on his Nexus One, and posted the unedited results. It was, to say the least, less than stellar:

“I am dictating this blog post via my google phone. I’m doing its name is a test to see how easy it is to do something like this. I don’t plan on taking my blog posts in the future very often what is pretty neat that you can do this”

Remember how lampooned the Newton’s pen input initially was? This is worse than Newton v1.0 quality. It’s also about three generations behind the current starte of the art in voice recognition (Dragon Dictate is really good these days).

But more importantly, those who are placing a lot of emphasis on the Nexus’ voice recognition ignore a lot of the culture of mobile phones, and how it is different around the world. In Japan, for example, talking on the phone in public transport is not just frowned upon – it will get your told off (politely!). Talking to your phone to dictate something is going to be similarly frowned upon.

Even in Western countries, talking to your phone in a public place is starting to be unusual. How many people text or email on their phones, rather than call? Do you think you could speak a blog post in Starbucks? And what would a coffee shop sound like if all those people working on their laptops were dictating to their phones instead?

(Image via Daylife)

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Idiot post of the day – The Roundup

I’ll keep updating this one as and when they come in. And boy, are they coming in. With the honourable exception of David Pogue, everyone seems to have lost all their critical faculties, journalistic skills, and in some cases basic ability to write English sentences which parse.

First up, Max Tatton-Brown, in his post entitled “Why the Nexus One is not ‘just another Android phone’“, which he begins with:

“Okay, let’s make this clear: The Nexus is just another Android phone.”

It isn’t just another Android phone. But then it is! OK. But it’s from Google, and they play a canny, long-term game which leads to success:

“Furthermore, Google are notorious long-game thinkers. They gradually manoeuvre their way around the industry, insidiously implanting the importance of their products into your everyday lifestyle. It’s viral. For example, Wave. I’m not writing this on Wave, therefore many will be eyeing it up as a bit of a flop. Nonsense, look at the next few years and then we’ll talk.”

Yeah, they’re great at the longterm. I mean look at the success of Lively. Or how they’ve defeated Twitter with Jaiku. And how Orkut has beaten off on the threat of Facebook. Google Video was so successful that who remembers YouTube? Google Notebook is now where everyone stores their notes.

And I’m still playing Dodgeball.

Meanwhile, even the BBC is getting caught up. Maggie Shiels begins her post with:

“Google has said it is defending its online advertising empire with the launch of its own brand mobile phone.”

She then goes on to quote not one but SIX people to confirm this.

Only one problem: None of them work for Google. I haven’t read a single quote from anyone at Google saying it is selling the Nexus One to defend its ad empire. Certainly, there is no such quote on this story.

When I was writing news, my editor would have knocked seven shades of shit out of me for saying that someone said X without a direct quote which said X, preferably in the next paragraph.

More idiocy, no doubt, to follow. I’ll just update this post shall I?

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Idiot post of the day (The Return of TechCrunch edition)

OK, I wasn’t going to do this. Even I had got bored. But MG Siegler’s post on how “Apple and Google just tag teamed the US Carriers” is just breathtakingly stupid.

MG, I know that you’re desperate to justify your earlier breathless hyping of the Nexus One, but seriously – contradicting yourself in the same sentence is pretty good going. To wit:

“But Google goes farther, because they already have multiple carriers (in this case, T-Mobile and Verizon, coming this Spring).”

If it’s “coming this spring”, they don’t ALREADY have multiple carriers. They “will have” or “plan to have” or “will be launching on”. They may even have “already signed up”. But they don’t “already have”.

Seriously, this is basic English we’re talking about here.

Then there’s this:

“Google has these guys in their pockets because it’s not like they’re going to team up with Apple to make a device (Motorola tried, and failed).”

Yeah, because Google can STOP HTC and Motorola building Android phones. They really really need Google! Oh no wait, they can’t! It’s free! It’s open source!

Of course Motorola and HTC are going to appear on stage with Google. They are a major, important partner. But claiming this means that Google has them in its pockets is just bullshit.

And finally…

“They’re taking the traditional mobile model in this country, where you first choose your carrier, and then choose your phone, and turning it upside down.”

Yes, because people are so dumb that they can’t chose things this way round for themselves. No one ever thought of, say, going to AT&T because they wanted an iPhone. Or Verizon because they wanted a Droid.

Or an N97. Actually, scrap that, no one wanted an N97, on any network.

(Image from Laughing Squid)

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Google’s “business strategy” versus Apple’s actual, real business

If you ever wanted to read something which almost perfectly encapsulates the utter lack of business reality endemic in new media, Kim-Mai Cutler’s post on the Nexus One is it. In particular, this sentence:

“Overall, incrementalism seems to be working for Google. A couple stats released today bear out evidence of that success.”

Success? What success? How much money has Google made from Android? Nothing – it’s spent millions. How much has Apple made from iPhone? Billions.

Game over.

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Tech rumours and wish fulfilment: The Google Phone and the Apple Tablet

There’s always been a hype-cycle, particularly with products from Apple, but something I’ve noticed recently is how the hype-cycle has changed into a world of fantasy.

The two best examples of this lately are the Google Nexus One and (apparently forthcoming) Apple Tablet. You see a simple pattern: In blog posts and forums the hype gets whipped up… and up… and up. More than hype, though, the rumoured product becomes a method of wish-fulfilment for writers and commentors, to the point where – upon real announcement – there is a massive sense of disappointment.

Take the Nexus One. First came the rumours of the hardware, which were at least based in the fact that Google had given some employees some advanced phones. The hardware was hyped up – it was going to be the fastest, greatest Android hardware ever seen. Next the software was hyped up: it would be released with the most advanced, most amazing version of Android.

Then more and more wishes got attached to the product, as if they were really part of the plan. The phone would be as low as $100, subsidised by Google because it could then sell more ads. And that would be without a carrier – Google would introduce unlimited data, no-voice plans for $20 per month. It would use Google Voice for communications, and you could use it on any network, anywhere.

The rumours piled on thick and fast. Someone on a forum would say “wouldn’t it be cool if…” and within a day or two you’d see this repeated as an “I heard a rumour that…” type of post.

Of course, it was all too good to be true. And while my post was wrong on the core point that Google would release an “own brand” phone, all the arguments I made were correct. There was no special plan, no subsidised price, no carrier-less phone, no souped-up version of Android. The Nexus One is just another Android phone. Not a bad one, to be sure: but just another phone, with just another plan.

Surprise, surprise: the reaction was massive disappointment. A lot of “GOOGLE YOU SUCK!” Even some comments that Google had conducted some kind of “bait and switch“. And, of course, the usual hypesters trying desperately to justify their earlier breathless claims that the Nexus One would change everything.

The same thing has been happening with the purported Apple Tablet, only there’s been a lot longer for people to attach wishes to the machine. Publishers, for example, at looking to this mythical beast to save them from the free publishing model of the web. It’s going to run OS X apps. Or maybe be a bigger iPhone. It’s unicorns and fairies and the tricorder – all in one. It will change computing, change your life, amaze you… and be the biggest thing since Jesus.

You can see how much wish fulfilment there is attached to the Tablet when someone dares to suggest that maybe (just maybe) it might not be all things to all men – that it might, in fact, be a niche product that really only a few people need. My friend Joe Wilcox, for example, had the temerity to claim that tablets as a whole are niche products, and that there was little that Apple could realistically create that would change this.

Cue hysteria from TechCrunch, which has invested almost as much time and energy whipping up fantasies about the Apple Tablet as they did about the Nexus One. Cue general tutting from publishers (who really, really want a tablet). Cue lots and lots of True Believers – who all want a world-changer from Apple, but who rarely all want the same thing – piling on and claiming that Joe just doesn’t get it.

All Joe has done, really, is point out that the tablet form itself faces some serious technological and ergonomic challenges if it is to ever break out of a niche. Can Apple meet and beat those challenges? I hope they do. But Tablets are not an established product area in the same way that phones or MP3 players are, so they’ll need to break a lot of ground to make it work.

But that doesn’t matter when a product rumour gets to the point of the Tablet, a point where it has had attached to it so many wishes and dreams that it’s impossible to meet all those dreams.

Of course, like everyone else, I have an idea of the Tablet that I’d like Apple to produce. Slim, light, capable of touch and also pen input (got to be able to draw and write notes on it). But like everyone else, I’m just indulging in wish-fulfilment. The problem with tech writing these days is that all too often, those writing write from a perspective of wish fulfilment rather than hard information. And that’s sad.

(UPDATE: As if to make one of my points, Joe has published a post listing some responses to his request for comments on what people want from an Apple Tablet. The answer is “pretty much everything”. And, with the exceptions of browsing and e-book reading, pretty much no one wants the same thing)

(Image by Photo Giddy)

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