Tag Archives: Smartphone

Is the iPhone 4 micro SIM really “not compatible” with iPad?

According to T3, the iPhone 4 micro SIM is “not compatible” with iPad, dashing the hopes of those who want swap SIMs around:

“The plan, had this not been the case, would have been to buy a 3G iPad but not pay for any data, then simply insert your iPhone SIM into the tablet to leech off its 3G network capabilities under your mobile contract’s data allowance. The official line on this form Apple goes: ‘The micro-SIMs for the iPhone are set up to allow voice calls, SMS messages and data functionality, whereas the iPad micro-SIM is provisioned to allow pay-as-you-go data transfer only.’”

(It’s worth noting that the link that T3 provides to Apple’s FAQs leads to a page which doesn’t say this).

This didn’t quite smell right to me. So I asked around, and the consensus amongst phone network folk is that it’s very unlikely that there’s anything preventing you putting an iPhone 4 SIM into an iPad and it just working.

Networks can apply limitations based on IMEI number, which is tied to the hardware, so a network could block an individual iPad or iPhone. A network could, in theory, pair an IMEI to SIM ID on its own systems when you first use your iPhone, and prevent any other IMEI from working with the same SIM – but this would be a pain to provision just to prevent a tiny number of people swapping SIMs around. It just wouldn’t be worth the hassle.

There is, though, one possibility: SIMs do provide a user-writable area, so Apple could write a flag there when a SIM is first used in an iPhone which the iPad checks for. If the flag is there, the iPad would then refuse to work. But this would be unlikely, tricky to do, and rather pointless from Apple’s perspective – after all, some networks might actually want to sell a “one SIM, two devices” option in the future.

My gut feeling is that T3 has just taken what Apple has written and pushed the story too far. It’s not a compatibility issue, in the sense of “incompatible SIMs” – it’s a provisioning issue, in the sense of “your carrier may well be pissed off when they notice how much data you’re using”. No doubt someone will try it out in a few weeks and we can see!

Enhanced by Zemanta

On AT&T’s new charges for data

I think my position is summed up very well by a comment from Nic Wise to a hysterical post by Jeff Jarvis:

“While this is going to effect the digerati, 79.75 million of the 80 millions iPhone users in the US will never notice. Except the smaller bill.”

As is usually the case, the digerati fail to see anything except their own narrow needs, and demand that those are served even if it means other people have to pay for them. 

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
Smartphone market share

Apple smartphone growth puts competition in the shade

Canalys has released its smartphone market share figures for Q1 2010, and the big winners are undoubtedly Apple, HTC and Motorola, all of which posted treble-digit growth in unit shipments compared to the equivalent quarter of 2009.

Smartphone market share

To put that into a little context: Apple’s worldwide market share increased by 4.4%. This increase is almost the same as Motorola’s entire share of the market, even after the excellent growth it showed over the quarter. Continue reading

No, app developers aren’t “switching” from iPhone to Android

Learning to write link baiting headlines is a very good method of learning how to spot them. And I expect that the latest AdMob report on mobile application development will draw a few linkbaiting headlines, such as MobileMarketingWatch’s “AdMob: 70% Of iPhone Developers Switching To Android“.

It’s good link bait, but it’s simply not true. In fact, what the AdMob report [PDF] actually says is:

  • More than 70% of iPhone devs plan to develop for Android over the next 6 months
  • Close to half of Android devs (48%) plan to develop for iPhone in the next 6 months

So in other words, it’s not a question of “switching” to Android. As is entirely sensible, developers are looking to do cross-platform work. That’s why almost half of the Android developers surveyed plan on developing for iPhone, too.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Is crapware invading Android?

One of the things that fascinates me about the way that the smartphone market is developing is whether it is following a similar path to the PC market. It’s easy to see the conflict between Apple and Google, for example, as a re-run of Apple versus Microsoft – and draw the conclusion that the end result will be similar.

I don’t think the analogy holds as strongly as some commentators believe, but there are some interesting areas where Android looks increasingly like Windows. One example of this a what some companies would call “value-added software”, which consumers often call “crapware”: additional software which customises the user experience or (in theory) adds additional “free” functionality to the supplied product.

On Android, this manifests itself as “user experiences” like HTC‘s SenseUI, but it’s not only manufacturers that want to play this game. Consider, too, the kinds of software added by networks like Vodafone:

“Vodafone has flagged up the forthcoming release of HTC’s Android-based smartphones Legend and Desire on its network next month.Legend will come with Vodafone’s 360 content and social networking portal pre-loaded.”

And this is just the start. The temptation for networks to “differentiate” themselves by skinning, amending and otherwise tampering with Android is going to be pretty intense – they’ve done much the same in the past with customised versions of non-smart phones, and they’ll do the same again with the “open” platform of Android.

Of course, the problem with this “value add” is that it rarely adds any value for the customer. The “problems” these kinds of add-ons are designed to solve are usually more to do with operator revenue than customer need.

Thus, Android is beginning its spiral into the world of crapware, software which serves no real purpose other than to give marketing people a “differentiator” which doesn’t really meet a customer need. And just as it has on the PC, the situation will get worse before it gets better – with the unfortunate issue that crapware is even harder to get rid of on a phone than it is on a computer.

(Image from louisvolant)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

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.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

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.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Idiot post of the day

Sadly, because I generally enjoy his writing, it’s from Robert Cringely:

“iPhone and Android will be here for the long haul with the question being which of Symbian, Palm, Windows Mobile, or Blackberry will die?”

Answer: None of them. There are more than 1.25 billion phones sold every year. Even a 1% market share would mean selling more phones than Apple did in 2008. Did Apple die in 2008, thanks to the lack of success of the iPhone? No.

People like Cringely simply do not understand the scale of the phone market worldwide. In 2008, more new phones were sold than the entire number of computers, old and new, that were in use.

Think about that for a second, Bob. Actually, think about it all day. Because then, you might understand that the phone market is not the same as the computer market.

(Image from Sylvar)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

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.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Why the Google Phone will not be released to the public

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

The hype machine is in overdrive. Google has confirmed that it has issued special Android-running “dogfood” phones to some of its employees, and every tech blog is speculating about when this will be released to the public and how it’s going to change the world.

I’m willing to bet that Google will not release a Google-branded phone in the next year, unless “Google branded” means what it did with the T-Mobile G1 – a subtle logo on a phone sold by other companies.

Why? Three reasons. Before we get to these reasons, though, let’s look at what people are actually talking about.

First, Google is not getting into the hardware manufacturing business, except in the way it already does with the Google Search Appliance. The Google Phone is, according to all the reports, made by HTC. It’s not built to Google’s spec, but instead is reported to be a rebadged HTC Passion, a phone that’s long been in the development pipeline.

Second, at present (as Google has stated in its public blog post) this is a testbed phone distributed to employees only. Phones like this are designed to be used for development purposes, and are commonly called “dogfood” – as in the old programmers phrase “to eat your own dogfood”, meaning to use software that is still in development to iron out issues. If you’re interested in how dogfooding works, that’s a great description of it in Zachary Pascal’s book about the development of Windows NT.

And, in terms of things we know, that’s about it. So is this a herald of a phone released to the public under Google’s name? I think not.

1. Google’s lack of experience

The first reason is simply that 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.

At this point, someone will probably point to Microsoft and Xbox as an example of how a software company can more into hardware quickly. But this ignores the fact that Microsoft had been in the hardware business for years, on a much smaller scale, with mice, keyboards, and other peripherals. This gave it a valuable set of experience of hardware and how to market and sell it. Had Microsoft launched Xbox without this experience, I doubt it would have been a success.

2. Where’s the network in this?

Second, there’s the Network Effect. No, not that network effect – I mean the fact that in order of a phone to be useful, you need a contract from a phone network.

When selling phones, manufacturers face two choices: they can either sell the phone “off contract”, at full price to consumers; or partner with a network, which buy phones (at full price) and sell them with the up-front cost hugely reduced, getting the cost back over the course of the contract.

This is why you can buy an HTC Hero unlocked in the UK for £369, or get it for free with a 24 month contract on the 3 network. Unsurprisingly, very few consumers choose to buy the phone for the upfront cost.

In fact, Nokia has suffered massively from this in the US, where its smartphones have tended to be sold unsubsidised and thus have had minimal impact. People don’t want to pay $500-600 for a phone – period.

That’s why the talk of Google selling its phone off-contract is, frankly, silly. Why would anyone other than the kind of hardcore geek who MUST have the latest phone pay full price to buy one with a Google logo on it, when they can get the same phone with an HTC logo on it for much less money upfront? Even if the HTC Passion becomes the Google Phone exclusively (something I doubt given HTC’s record), there are many other manufacturers of Android phones and many good devices coming down the pipeline – and consumers will buy them if they’re free/cheap upfront.

Some might argue that Google could reduce the up-front price of a Google Phone on the grounds that it will increase their overall ad revenue over the course of the phone’s lifetime. But this would be a massive punt for the company, as there is no way of definitively showing ROI on a project like this. While they could show that X number of ads had been served on their phone, how many of those ads would be served anyway on another Android phone, an iPhone, or even a Nokia or BlackBerry? Working out the incremental revenue delivered, which would be required to work out how much the company could afford to subsidise the phone, would be impossible.

3. What’s unique about the Google phone?

Third, there is the issue of uniqueness. In order to be a success, there would need to be something other than the Google brand that differentiated it. Given that Google doesn’t make hardware, that means one thing: different software. And that’s the one thing that Google cannot do with Android.

Why? Because the moment that it started keeping “good” Android features to itself, it would alienate current and future Android phone makers, and fragment the platform. And that’s exactly what it wants NOT to do at this stage of the game. Android is already beginning to suffer from fragmentation. Anything which increased this will be avoided.

Could it offer additional, branded-phone-only services? Yes – but what would be the benefit to it doing so, over offering the same services on subscription (or even free) to the wider Android audience? Google has historically trod a very careful line with its services, making them as widely-available as possible for a very simple reason: The wider they are available, the greater the potential for ad revenue from them.

Show me the money

Put simply, unless Google has some unique business plan or completely radical technology that no one knows anything about – in other words, unless they have some magic pixie dust to sprinkle – it makes no sense for the company to release a unique, category-dominated Google Phone. We might get an HTC Passion, Google-branded in the way that the T-Mobile G1 was, sold through networks – and hey, that might be a very good phone. But it won’t be anything like the predictions we’re seeing now.

Remember when the iPhone was early in its hype-cycle, and how it was referred to as the “Jesusphone”? What we’re seeing now is a classic case of “Jesusphone” hype, the need of the tech blogging world to find a next big thing and portray it as massively different to what we have. The truth is more prosaic, and more dull. Category-defining products happen rarely, tectonic shifts in markets come along only occasionally. But hey, it keeps the geeks amused.

Update: John Gruber digs a little and finds the Google Phone identifies itself as “Nexus One” (smart reference). He’s also hearing that it’s GSM, but only works on T-Mobile’s 3G band.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]