The iDEN networks have always been considered as odd on this side of the Atlantic. This network technology designed by Motorola in the early 90s is still used by two US operators : Sprint Nextel and SouthernLINC Wireless.
Motorola iDEN devices
iDEN is now approaching its death. FCC just allowed Sprint to use 3G and 4G technologies in iDEN spectrum (800MHz). The key feature of the iDEN technology was Push To Talk that GSM networks were able to mimic with GPRS P2T applications in the early 2000s.
With the end of iDEN and the US adoption of 3G and LTE it is the end of an American uniqueness. Wireless technological standards are now global.
Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility (the handset maker branch) raises a few questions on the future openeness of the Android ecosystem in the future.
The acquisition is mostly presented as an acquisition of a patent portfolio but is that all?
In a previous post, I was mentioning that Android 3.0 has been reserved to a few selected manufacturers mainly Motorola. Motorola enjoyed around 4 months to sale its Android powered tablet before another competitor could enter the stage.
It certainly won’t improve with Motorola being a Google subsidiary.
“The acquisition of Motorola Mobility, a dedicated Android partner, will enable Google to supercharge the Android ecosystem,” Google said in a statement.
So we’ll have a 2 kind of Android devices. The Motorola devices with the latest features and innovation and the rest of the market providing the same devices but with months of delay or niche products that Google/Motorola don’t want to produce.
Most of the OEMs don’t care as long the OS license fee remains free, but what will be the reaction of the main ODM like Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony-Ericsson? Even if Google is 100% honest and Motorola managed separately there will be still suspicion in the air.
This is creating a fantastic opportunity for Microsoft is they play smartly. After all HTC is paying Microsoft around 5$ per Android device for Intellectual Property. If the cost of a Windows Phone 7 license is around 10$ the benefits of using Android are meager: 5$ per device for an outdated OS version. With the end of the Symbian foundation, Microsoft remains the only Open OS provider not manufacturing devices.
Remember Sun Microsystem motto a few years ago: “The Network Is The Computer” ? Sun vision is what we call today “the cloud”. They envisionned a network centric computing paradigm where the storage and the processing power was in a remote place connected through a network.
I just read an interview of Satchwell in Mobile Today, a Motoral executive stating that their new Atrix device was a “computer phone” :
“(…) put the ATRIX phone into the docking station and it is connected to a Bluetooth keyboard and a monitor. The phone is the computer.”
The device features a dual core processor and 2 OS: Android for the mobile usage and a Linux for the desktop usage.
I share this vision. The new paradigm for computing in the next 10 years is Mobile + Cloud. A very powerfull terminal like a swiss knife connected through a broadband network to an even more powerfull datacenter. The mobile AND the network are the computer.
Mobile and Computing are colliding. I’m strongly convinced that our computing world will change dramatically in the next 5 years. There will be enough computing power in a mobile to run a PC and its main applications (word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, etc.). So you’ll just need a docking station to plug your mobile and transform it into a PC, a Media Player, a Navigation Device, etc. depending on where you are and what you need at this very moment.
Some very interesting products have been disclosed at CES. I think these products are showing the future of Personnal Computing:
Motorola Atrix and Laptop companion
With the Motorola Atrix your mobile is plugged into a companion device that transforms it into a real laptop with PC experience Web browsing thanks to Firefox.
Asus approach is a very interesting too. I believe that the Tablet segment will collide with the laptop segment to the point they will merge. Your PC will be a tablet when on the go when you have no intention to work. Just slide the keyboard and you are ready for a busy day.
With these pictures, one understands a bit better what’s behind Windows 8 Arm move.
Handset manufacturer Sony Ericsson has reported its third consecutive profitable quarter. Sony-Ericsson is now shipping 50% of smartphones out of 10M devices / quarter.
With its recent decision to stop its Symbian range, Sony-Ericsson is now fully dependent on Android. Like Motorola it has only a few ways to differentiate from competition:
- Hardware design
- User Interface
- 3rd party applications
Chinese manufacturers are learning fast and these differentiating points may not be enough in the mid term.
Using only one OpenOS platform, i.e. Android, is dangerous, as Sony-Ericsson and Motorola don’t control their future, Google does. LG approach is, I think, wiser as it is based on Windows Phone and Android. Samsung launch of Bada is the best strategy in the long term but only Top3 manufacturers can develop, maintain and nurture their own OpenOS.
Betting on only one platform is a risky choice, but a necessary one until full recovery. Let’s just hope this only one platform strategy is a temporary one.