I’m delighted to be able to bring you Stefan’s viewpoints on Google Android. Formerly Master Blogger at Ringnokia.com, Stefan is a total nokia fiend. So much so he’s moved to Finland to be near the ‘mothership’ (as our very own James Whatley describes it). Although heavily involved with Nokia, I suspected that Stefan would have some stand-out perspectives on the recent Android launch.
Here we go:
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The HTC manufactured, T-Mobile advertised, G1 is the first Android device to hit the market and while it may not be the prettiest girl out there, the platform is what will make it shine and what will increase the pace of innovation in the smart phone world.
The thing about Android that a lot of people fail to realize is the modularity of the operating system. If a developer out there wants to rewrite the phone book, messaging application, home screen, whatever, then they’re free to act upon their desires. This has never been possible; at least it’s never been this easy.
Take some of that hunger phone manufactures have to innovate and differentiate and unleash it by giving them an open platform with a very liberal open source license and you’re just asking for someone to come and create the next greatest thing.
Three of the top five handset makers are in the Open Handset Alliance. Nokia, the largest maker of handsets, is not because they’re working on their own Linux operating system called Maemo and have recently announced that they plan to open source their crown jewel known as Symbian. Forget about the top 5 handset makers for a second.
The Asian market is ripe with bootleg devices. They look authentic, but usually run horrible Linux based home brewed operating systems. What happens when you give those handset makers a powerful smartphone operating system they can slap on all of their devices? That Nokla in the hand of the person sitting next to you on the train which looks like a Nokia N95 may actually be an Android device and consumers wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.
What about the handset makers who are number 6, 7, 8 and 9? Granted the reason they’re tiny is probably due to manufacturing, but what if you took the burden of writing software off their shoulders and allowed them to concentrate on nothing but hardware?
Speaking about the lack of manufacturing capacity, the wireless semiconductor space is consolidating right now with STMicroelectronics, NXP and Ericsson engaging in a threesome that will undoubtedly drive the price of baseband and application processors through the floor due to increased volume.
There are two theories of evolution. One is that change occurs slowly over time, the other is that things generally stay the same for long periods of time and then there are brief moments in history when several variables contribute to a huge change that impacts nearly everything and forces change to happen. I subscribe to the later and I believe this is what’s happening to the mobile industry at this very moment.
We have free operating systems all of a sudden, we have the chipset space shrinking, one variable I didn’t mention is the fact that the Intel, also a part of the Open Handset Alliance, has awoken to this whole mobile thing and by the beginning of the next decade will have chips that compete in terms of power consumption and performance to the ARM solutions expected to hit the market around the same time.
People often ask why mobile phones can’t be like computers, why can’t you just buy off the shelf components and slap your operating system of choice and then go about your day? We’re moving in that general direction and that will shake up everything.
Most people, and be honest, most people buy a handset because of the way it looks. When making a phone does become easy enough that a small company with small volumes can still make money then you’re going to see the number of available models explode, similar to how the PC space is today.
It may not seem obvious now, but if mobile phones continue this 100% increase in performance every 2 years then generation of devices that will be out by 2011 will make us cry tears of joy and happiness and it was all due to a handful of companies tweaking a few variables of the game.
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Super food for thought, Stefan. Thank you!