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Why exactly does Android matter?

by minimalist / November 5, 2007 8:01 AM PST

I don?t get it. How exactly is this new mobile device platform guaranteed to be a success that will change the cell phone industry as we know it?

The only major wireless provider that is on-board is T-Mobile and as far as I can tell they have committing to nothing more than giving an Android device or two a go. But apparently they could still hobble it in many ways. Eric Scmidt claimed today that, ?While it's feasible, it's also highly unlikely you'll see that scenario (hobbling of an Android device).?

So what?s the big leverage that Google has in this that will force wireless carriers to change their ways?

I love my Google Calender and Gmail, and the open source software philosophy is very inspiring and all, but I really don?t see how the cell phone locking and hobbling problem can be solved without some sort of regulation. Even if you produced a great 100 dollar g-phone that you could buy off the shelf at wal-mart, the carriers are not obliged to let you use it on their networks.

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uhh
by mementh / November 5, 2007 8:46 AM PST

for GSM networks.. they have no idea what phone it is i belive.. (or hope)

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I'll believe it when I see it.
by minimalist / November 5, 2007 9:20 AM PST
In reply to: uhh

Unless they take these things out of the carrier channels and they all the sudden become the must have phone of the moment (Google's cool and all to geeks but I have my doubts about how excited the general public will be about a google phone) I don't see how they will have any real impact on the problem.

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No guarantee, but a pretty safe bet
by punterjoe / November 5, 2007 8:05 PM PST

Given the names involved in this initial announcement, I'd be surprised if it amounts to NOTHING. Google & co have planted the seed. Let's see what they can grow.
I think they can bring carriers on board by making a case for how it can mean more revenue for everyone. The carriers who were noticeably absent, arguably have a reputation for preferring to hoard scarcity rather than share abundance.
I wonder how this will impact the current open source smartphone platform(s) on sourceforge etc, since THIS open platform actually will be backed by a bunch of hardware vendors.
For now, I'll be content with my not-so-bright phone, but I will closely watch Android development. If Google & partners want to offer me a phone that does more, and may cost the same or less, I'll seriously consider their new arrangement & if I don't find the terms too onerous (compared to current carrier terms, that shouldn't be hard), I'll gladly port my mobile experience over to the Googleverse.

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I will hope for the best....
by minimalist / November 6, 2007 12:32 AM PST

...but prepare for the worst.

Google does has lots of enthusiasm and a open, flexible philosophy which I appreciate, but they don?t always execute things very well and have a serious deficiency in UI design (the one exception being the amazing Google Calendar).

But even I, as a geek, I am not sure I am willing to give up my iPhone-bondage for any form of a G-phone if there the user experience is as clunky as it is on. Wouldn?t it be ironic if the public actually CHOSE ease of use with the limitations of a walled garden over the anything goes, chaotic ethos of open source? I know that?s not a very popular thing to say amongst libertarian-leaning, open source geeks but mainstream acceptance will determine Android?s influence, not geeks. And unfortunately I am not convinced the mainstream audience really cares how open their phones are as long as they do the things they want them to do and do them well.

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"Mooooommy, theyre gonna hurt my iPhone!!"
by Papa Chango / November 6, 2007 2:42 AM PST

I can see the rabid Apple fanbois foaming at the mouth because they think this somehow affects their 'precious', when it doesnt.
They dont know what this Android does or how it could affect the sales of The Company (All hail the company!) and the sense of well being they feel when the stock rises but they sense this could be a disturbance in the force so youre going to see a lot of doomsayers.

If Google and friends spend a billion on hip advertising campaigns and make things round and shiny, then this cant fail.

Without all the details in, this plan still looks good on the surface (and must have instilled fear in the carriers) and if it can somehow lower costs as well as TRULY open the platform for third party apps, then it should do well.


PS: I just used my friends Prada this morning and am as underwhelmed as with the iPhone. Yes, they both have nice interfaces, so what?
Its a cell phone people, something just above the Bic lighter in terms of shelf life: it lasts 2 years (the lenght of your subsidized plan) and if you havent lost it or dropped, you usually get a new one which is bigger/smaller and better. (Im presently using a 40$ handset and voice dialing is the only option I really need so I could care less.)
I then asked the manager at the cell phone store where I went to get a car charger what is the main thing people look at and he said price. First and foremost. The people who want their TREO and N95 already know what they want: its rare those people come in to glance, you have to do no sales job on them. Onthe other hand, Joe Consumer will hem and haw since he has no allegiance to a brand even if he owns a phone already.
He said that if a Google-platformed phone is in a good price range AND you have almost unlimited apps that you can add on then people will very likely extend the life of their cell phones (people often change because of a function or apps on a new phone so if you can keep adding apps to your phone and your happy with it, the reasons for changing become smaller.) ... which of course is not good for new sales, so he's not sure why the phone manufacturers would want this. Built in obsolence is a way of life in this business.

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3 years later
by hicksticks / November 9, 2010 1:11 PM PST

Wow, it's funny to read this post from three years ago, because now Android is the hotest operating system on the smart phone market.

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Not really fair, though...
by Slikkster / November 9, 2010 9:51 PM PST
In reply to: 3 years later

I agree that it's interesting to see where Android has gone from intitial reports, but any of us could dredge up older posts about technologies in their infancy that seem silly today.

Mine? I never thought Twitter would amount to anything but a tool for egomaniacal tech talking heads to gauge their own self-importance. Of course, that still goes on, lol, but Twitter itself has been much more widely adopted. I was wrong.

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And lots of the post was also prescient:
by minimalist / November 9, 2010 10:56 PM PST
In reply to: 3 years later

Carrier hobbling and fracturing of the platform are very real problems for Android. And they exist because Google's real "customers" are the carriers, not us. We are just the the poor schmucks who make Google money by viewing their ads and using all their services.

"Open source" cuts both ways. With Android, the carriers are in control as much as they want to be which is exactly as it was before. And as more and more carriers lock out certain features or add their own cr@pware or load their own marketplaces the more we have gone full circle. Being a "hot" phone does not change the fact that thats a bad situation.

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Windows Phone 7
by Slikkster / November 10, 2010 12:01 AM PST

I like what I read about Windows Phone 7 regarding phone updates. They apparently are telling people "If Microsoft releases an update to the OS, EVERYONE gets it." That's a start, at least, and a far cry from what's going on with Android.

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I'm impressed too.
by minimalist / November 10, 2010 3:37 AM PST
In reply to: Windows Phone 7

They seem to have found an angle that nobody has thusfar considered (the mainstream consumer who doesn't have a smartphone yet). I just hope the message gets through so MS can grow some market share. If I wasn't embedded in the Apple ecosystem I'd be trying out a windows phone 7 device right now.

In my opinion, there is nothing that Google has ever done that is fully baked idea. They never seem to finish anything... like rich kids who play around with their newest toys until they get bored and move onto something else. It really depresses me to see such half @ssed work get rewarded.

At least Palm and Microsoft care about a consistent user experience.

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Why would any geek want wp7
by Nicholas Buenk / November 10, 2010 6:51 AM PST
In reply to: I'm impressed too.

It's as locked down and closed as iOS. And it's on the mess of devices that Android is on. And it's missing many features like multitasking and copy and paste. It's where iOS was in 2008.
I do not want Microsoft to get any Market share, as I'd much rather see an open system like Android have success.

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One word for you:
by Slikkster / November 10, 2010 7:08 AM PST

Hater! Happy

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Geeks are a small minority.
by minimalist / November 10, 2010 9:02 AM PST

The mainstream doesn't care about political posturing and philosophical arguments about computers. They just want their phones to work and to let them take upload pictures, read email, text, look at Facebook, and make the occasional Twitter or play a game of Angry birds.

The open source advocates are deluding themselves if they attribute Android's success to its "openness". Its gaining market share because it looks similar to the iPhone and its on the carriers people prefer in a gazillion different form factors. Its a triumph of quantity over quality. Not to mention Google will let the carriers and OEM's do whatever they want to do... which ironically makes it not so "open" in the end. Either Google is extremely naive about carriers or they are deeply cynical and just don;t care what happens as long as they get the page views.

And as a designer, I just can't abide by bad design and Android is u-g-l-y. And all the skins are even worse. Google has proven time and again that they have no understanding of UI polish or of human interface concerns.

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Well
by Nicholas Buenk / November 10, 2010 12:12 PM PST

Google actually said if they restrict what carriers will do it'll damage the growth of the platform.
Also they promise a better UI with Android 3.

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They have never produced a great UI for
by minimalist / November 10, 2010 1:43 PM PST
In reply to: Well

any of their other products so I will believe it when I see it. They are a company staffed by engineers who can't see beyond their own narrow interests and who don't get the importance of polish or refinement. Besides, what good is a tweaked UI if they let OEMs and carriers pick it all apart and add their own garbage?

The statement about making demands on the carriers restricting the growth of the platform is diversionary BS. It means Google is more than willing to sacrifice their integrity and wh@re Android out to to any company that wants to make a fast buck. Most people refer to that as "selling out". What good is having the biggest platform in the world if that platform sucks? Unless of course you don;t really care about the platform and all you want is the maximum number of eyeballs for your ads.

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Yes
by Nicholas Buenk / November 11, 2010 6:56 AM PST

Google is more interested in Android being a success than it being open, this is obvious. But it's the most open thing out there. I carry both an iPhone and an Android, as I am not entirely happy with either. iOS's closed app store disgusts me, ad Android lacks great music and podcasting abilities and HTC does not design hardware any where near as well as Apple. The radio and 3G chipset on my HTC Desire do not function as fast and reliably as my iPhone 4, regardless of all the media hype about antennagate.
But when you're on Android you have a real sense of freedom, any kind of app you can think of you can find without any censored limits.
Google did promise to revamp the UI for Android 3.
And also, try Google Chrome, they made a simpler easier more minimal UI than Apple'a web browser.

Anyway, the OS I'd prefer is an open version of iOS, kind of like.... OS X Lion.

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At some point...
by Slikkster / November 11, 2010 8:03 AM PST
In reply to: Yes

Apple is going to run out of cats.

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I use Google Chrome on Windows simply because its fast.
by minimalist / November 11, 2010 8:24 AM PST
In reply to: Yes

But its seriously ugly. But its webkit I'm after, not Chrome per se. So I use Safari on the Mac because its as fast as Chrome on a PC and it looks a whole lot better. I also use Google Reader because its so useful. But again, ugly ugly ugly. I grin and bear it but if someone else came up with a good solution with an interface that showed they has actually made an effort, I'd leave in a heartbeat.

I think the whole "open" thing is seriously overrated. There are a lot of things I don;t like about the iPhone (dropped calls, abusive twilighting of old accessories that should still work with the dock connector but don't) but none of them have to do with app selection. There is honestly nothing I've ever wanted that I couldn't find on the app store. The stuff that Android has that the iPhone doesn't is seriously fringe stuff that 99% of the population could care less about. Open source is a sort of religion that appeals to a very small, but very vocal group of geeks. That's fine I guess. But they shouldn't assume that any body else cares about their computer politics.

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Steve Jobs may have said that Microsoft has no taste
by minimalist / November 11, 2010 8:26 AM PST

or style, but Windows 7 looks like Prada compared to the Old Navy-esque clusterfrack that is Android.

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Well
by Nicholas Buenk / November 13, 2010 7:45 PM PST

I couldn't use Safari. It would memory leak over the course of the day and totally slow my system down. Multiprocesses of Chrome handle that well, when a tab is closed the memory is always freed. And while it might look bland, it's actually simpler and cleaner than Safari. And BTW there is an extension that forces Google Reader to look pretty and Mac like. Wink

Ohh and dropped calls thing is not the iPhone it's AT&T. I've never dropped a call with my iPhone on Telstra. They're the Australian verizon in terms of coverage and reliability compared to other carriers. What I mean is, I find it odd how people tend to think of the iphone and AT&T's network as the same product. I suspect if you visited Canada, as they're closer to you, and roamed onto Rogers, I hear their network is great. You'd be amazed at the iPhones perfect reliability on a great network.

As to openness. That is a big deal in more that just a philosophical but practical way too. Think of all the things you can't do on the iPhone because of Apple's censorship. Porn apps, flash, unix CLI apps, wifi tethering, phone conversation recording, driving mode UI shell, auto SMS replying apps, email and twitter apps that auto-update in background, VNC server to use the phone from your computer. Silly The list goes on and on.

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Skins are almost always worse than a the bad interfaces
by minimalist / November 14, 2010 4:36 AM PST
In reply to: Well

they are trying to cover up. Good design isn't just skin deep, it extends too all levels of the UI. I'd rather just use the bad interface than put lipstick on a pig. The Helvetireader plugin which tries to prettify Google Reader in Safari is a great example. At first glance it looks better than the raw g-reader layout. And then you realize that its clunkier and more cumbersome to use than Google reader itself.

No problems with memory leaks here. I've got 8 tabs open on Safari 64 bit and its been around 450MB for several hours. I've got 7.5 GB to spare so it's not a problem for me. I also need Safari because I synch bookmarks, calendars, contacts, and mail across all my devices with mobile me.

It may not be the iPhone's fault but it's a reality that AT&T has cr@ppy 3G coverage where I live which means you have to turn 3G off in order to make a call and not get it dropped. So for all practical purposes its a difference without a distinction. And I'm not really sure that things will be better on Verizon in my city either because we are not one of their stranger markets. We'll see. If they are I'll be switching for sure but I'm not convinced that they are the Panacea that everyone seems to think they will be.

Not one of the apps you listed appeals to me (but for the record its super easy to get porn on an iPhone or iPad... VLC is your friend). And I'm pretty sure these kinds of ultra geeky apps are off the radar for 95% of the mainstream users as well. My hair stylist has an Android phone. She has a whopping total of 4 apps she has downloaded. It's the usual... Facebook, Twitter, Pandora, etc. So my comment about openness stands... it really has very little to do with Android's success.

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Yeah
by Nicholas Buenk / November 14, 2010 8:48 AM PST
In reply to: Well

You know.... because of the lack of a good RSS reader on the mac, and that Google Reader is kind of sluggish and ugly. I tend to use an iPhone app to do most of my RSS reading. But, the Android RSS app is just as good, albeit not as pretty.

Memory leaks on Safari after a few hours/days make my Macbook Pro feel slower than my iPhone.... I couldn't take it any more.

You know, same thing on Optus here their 3G sucks, I had to help my sister as she's always on the phone, disable her 3G so it would not keep dropping her calls! No such problems on my Telstra iPhone.
The problem is that... Optus 3G is on 2100mhz, Telstra is all 850mhz. 2100mhz is a much more fragile spectrum. A lot of AT&T 3G is 1900mhz, and probably is in your area. I expect that's the problem you're having, 3G on bad spectrum. Note, verizon is all 800mhz.
Anyway, here the iPhone is on all carriers, and hence you really see that it's the networks and not the phone. And I do not think it's a difference without the distinction. Because, it's like buying a sports car and saying it sucks because you've only been able to drive it on dirt roads. It's wrong to blame the car. Wink

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If you buy the sports car and there are no
by minimalist / November 14, 2010 10:06 AM PST
In reply to: Well

paved roads on at ALL in your country, then your car is effectively no different than a family sedan. In which case you would rightly be called stupid for buying such a car knowing there was nowhere to drive it. But there is at least some sort of implicit guarantee when you buy an iPhone and your AT&T coverage map shows giant blooms of strong signal over your house that you'll at least be able to make calls.

I like Reeder on the iPhone and the iPad but I still cant power through my RSS feeds like I can on a desktop or laptop with Google Reader open in a tab. Netnewswire is a great Mac RSS reader, but I don;t want to deal with the headaches of synching. Things move fast on RSS so the more streamlined the experience is when accessed from multiple devices and locations the better.

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