Google transforms it Nexus strategy into hero device portfolio strategy

With the acquisition of Motorola, Google needed to change its Nexus device strategy.

At major every software release of Android, Google picked up a vendor and worked with it on a hero device with the full Android experience (No UI on top). These devices were then branded Google Nexus by manufacturer X.

Now that Motorola is a Google company, suspicion is lurking around. Will Motorola get a competitive advantage of 3 to 6 months? It is not a big deal for Chinese makers like Huawei and ZTE but more of a showstopper for Samsung. And after all Samsung is the most successful Android powered manufacturer with its Galaxy portfolio.

Samsung Galaxy SIII

This Nexus portfolio is both a blessing and a curse: manufacturers will be able to launch devices with the latest Android release but at the time they won’t be able to customize the devices or put their own services on board.

With this new strategy Google succeeds in three ways:

  • Block customization of hero devices
  • Maintain the manufacturer momentum behind Android
  • Give time to Motorola to ramp up and try to overtake Samsung

Maybe its time for Samsung to start a new platform on its own beyond Tizien and Bada, and acquire an advanced mobile OS like RIM’s QNX.

2012 : the year of the Tablet & PC merge

I was mentioning in some previous posts that the PC industry was colliding with the mobile industry. For every accident one expects a big boom. It will be the case with the launch of Windows 8 next year.

Windows 8 transforms the way we see tablets and computers. There will be no clear frontier between a PC and a tablet anymore. The tablet will be able to change its finger friendly UI into a mouse friendly UI when docked with a mouse and keyboard.

On this video I shot you can see the Metro UI and a switch to the PC legacy UI.

In the past we used to think a machine = a UI = a processor. This paradigm is no longer valid.

OS/UI/processor

Now an OS will be able to run on different chipset architectures (ARM or x86) and to run different UIs depending on the context.

OS/UI/Processor

It is already the case with UBUNTU 11.10 which runs on X86 and ARM.

Toshiba AC100 running Ubuntu 11.10

I really love my Toshiba AC100 running Ubuntu. OK it’s really sluggish due to the lack of RAM (only 500MB) so it’s more or less a mono task computer but never the less it works. For more information on Ubuntu on ARM > Ubuntu Wiki

One can expect next year a revival of the long lasting war between MAC and PC. I expect Apple to merge its MacOS and iOS for Tablet UIs into something new that will combine the 2 product categories. Apple will most probably manage it smoothly to avoid damaging its healthy iPad business as it did in the past managing the transition from iPod to iPhone.

OS UI Processor future

Microsoft which has no presence in the tablet space will be far more aggressive in merging the 2 segments. The unknown factor remains Google. Will Google be able to strengthen its Android value proposition and combine it with Chrome OS?

Depressed mobile operator employees

Some of my friends are working at mobile operators, and they all seem depressed. Some of them are still arrogant but depressed 😉

mno employees2

After years of tremendous growth, Mobile operators are at a cross-road. They are under pressure from every side:

  • from regulators on their tariffs,
  • from the states that want to maximize the sale of the new LTE licenses
  • from handset manufacturers / platform vendors on applications and services,
  • from the competition as growth has stalled,

The only adjustment parameter seems to be the headcount. Actually mobile operators have key assets:

  • their customer base
  • their billing
  • the know how to secure a service access

Mobile operators need to accept they cannot compete in the consumer application space because they are too big and too slow. With their assets they can play a key role in our digital life in securing access to our medical records, bank accounts. NFC and M-Health projects are showing the way but many other ideas have to be investigated: checking our ID on-line, etc. The SIM card is the only strong authentication system which every one of us is carrying in his pocket any time.

So mobile operator guys, stop taking pills, a world of opportunities is ahead!

App or Web, that is the question

App or Web is the question every business is asking its development team. Shall we go the native application route with its nice responsiveness, look and feel or the Web route that is multi platform and is always up to date.

I’ve tried to put the pros and cons in the single table so every decision maker can make his own mind on this question.

app vs web

app vs web

Both approaches make sense, but usualy one fits better than the other with the short term targets.

For instance on Kitchbi we have started the project with a Web application as we wanted to be available on all platforms. In a second phase we are considering applications for a few selected platforms that fit with our target (iPad and Android in the case of Kitchbi).

The App vs. Web question is often a matter of Reach vs. Rich.

What’s the WAC? The dumb pipes awakening!

WAC for Wholesale Application Community, the last minute initiative from the GSMA at MWC, is trying to keep the operators in the application race, i.e. the service race as more and more service are delivered through application (see previous posts). It is a matter of survival for operators if they want a piece of the service pie in the future.

At MWC sessions, Operators were complaining about the device OS fragmentation, forgetting that they are at the ones who manage this fragmentation inside their device portfolio to avoid to be dependent from a manufacturer. But with the tremendous success of Apple and RIM, the strong service ambitions of Nokia they all feel threatened of being transformed into dumb pipe business in the mid term and … they are right. Vodafone’s CEO cleared stated it’s worries with Google advertisement monopoly. The fear is a great self motivator for change for operator behemoth.

The Wholesale Application Community initiative shows the right way: developers will never develop an application for a specific network operator using its proprietary APIs. Operators’ APIs need to be standardized and open like the SMS premium gateways operator have managed to launch few years ago.  The Canadian OneAPI is clearly the programme to watch even if it’s late as the GSMA guys have been not very reactive.

Nevertheless one technology may blow away the dark clouds over the operators, it’s HTML5. HTML5 enables flash like website without … flash. Developers will be able to produce website with animation, drag-and-drop and media playback, etc. without the help of any plug-in in the browser. HTML5 will make applications platform independent and contribute to the de-fragmentation of the application market.
That’s for the promises, but each technology has a flip side or at least some limitations, and HTML5 ones are still to be discovered.