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 If the cost of a Windows Phone 7 license is around 10$ the benefits of using Android are meager: 5$ per device for an outdated OS version.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.
In May last year I was posting “a Nokia Windows Mobile 7? Stop dreaming!” Apparently, the rumor of a Windows Phone 7 powered Nokia device is back. And this time I think there are reasonable chances that it will happen. What changed between last year and today?
- Mr Elop took over Nokia’s reigns and he’s coming from Microsoft
- Nokia failed in its Symbian open source strategy
- Meego failed to materialize beyond the Nokia N900
So next week will be the moment of truth for Nokia: either they show a compelling User Experience and UI on a Meego (or Symbian?) powered device or a Windows Phone device. I don’t see any alternative if Nokia wants to counter strike in the smartphone segment.
According to Gartner Android is continuing its ascent. Eventhough the definition of smartphones and OpenOS are blurry. Android is estimated to have powered 20M devices vs. 30M for Symbian.
Gartner Smartphone Market Estimation
Gartner doesn’t tell if S40 is included in the Symbian definition as it isn’t usually considered as an OpenOS.
These figures highlight the need to improve Symbian UI and appeal to developpers.
The ascent of Android seems unstoppable as it is supported by a wide range of manufacturers whereas Symbian has become a Nokia proprietary OS.
Let’s watch closely if Nokia N8 featuring Symbian ^3 is a success or a flop. It will give a clear market indicator for the next months.
Apple and Gemalto are said to be working on a SIM card that will enable Apple to sell its subscription bypassing operators.This SIM card will be able to connect to any network in any country. The SIM card will reconfigure itself according to the local settings.
Apple would buy at a wholesale price data and communications and resell it to its customers. The role of the operators would be to provide a network to Apple. Operators won’t have any longer a direct relationship with the customers.
The losers will be the operators and … Gemalto. You can imagine that operators will make Gemalto pay a high price for this treachery.If you have any Gemalto stocks, sell quickly!
Apple will find always an operator to sell them connectivity in every market. What is sure, is that operators will put a lot of money on the table to promote their own Open OS or at least less threatening Open OS lilke Symbian, Android or Windows Phone…
Samsung and Sony-Ericsson announced that they will no longer release Symbian powered devices. This defection let Nokia alone still supporting Symbian globally and some smaller manufacturers like Fujitsu in Japan.
It’s a bit disappointing beacause the Symbian foundation has done a lot to improve its attractiveness but this is apparently not enough. Samsung is currently supporting Windows Mobile, Android and its own Open OS Bada. Samsung has apparently learnt from Motorola which was supporting 5 years ago 5 openOS and just didn’t know where to focus its efforts.
The Symbian foundation seems a bit odd as it has one main user. Nokia’s bet to change Symbian into a free and open source platform seems to have failed as the goal was to compete with Android. Symbian hasn’t emerged as a rallying Open OS for the industry. Android did.
Symbian needs to improve its user experience quickly with Symbian ^4 in order to stay in the race.
Is the Symbian Foundation the best vehicle for that? Would it be simpler for Nokia to integrate Symbian as an in-house OS? The future will tell.