Interesting analysis suggests Android is a net negative for Google, but investors do not realize it yet
An interesting analysis by Sal Marvasti from Technoor Consulting posted on Seeking Alpha suggests Google is not doing half as well from Android as could be expected from the dominant position of the OS in the marketplace.
Google owns desktop search, and also seemingly owns the mobile market. Â While investors are very happy about this situation, Marvasti argues compared to Microsoft Google is in a pretty bad situation.
Google’s revenue stream in the main remains ads, be they on mobile or desktop. It does not earn direct revenue from device sales, and most apps on Google Play are free.Â DistimoÂ estimates Apple generatesÂ $5.4m a day in app sales for the top 200 grossing iPhone and iPad apps while Â Google Play,only generates $679,000 for the 200 top-grossing apps on Google Play, or about 12% of Apple’s revenue. Running the store likely costs a lot more than that.
In terms of generated search ad income, the mobile web usage per Android handset is much less than that per iPhone, suggesting Google makes more from each iPhone user than each Android user, in a similar way to how Google made their money from Windows desktop users. With Google’s products much in demand still on Windows and Windows Phone, it makes Google’s refusal to develop for the platforms rather unwise.
Additional Changes Include:
- Added landscape support for subreddit, web page, and comment viewers, as well as submit a link
- Added story domain in to story list
- Added orientation lock
- New comments are tracked on stories that have been viewed
- Fixed long self-text / comment cut off problem
- Improved web page viewer
- Improved up vote and down vote hit boxes
After Windows Phone 8 leak, Microsoft needs to reassure Windows Phone 7 buyers their phones are upgradable
Some have speculated that the recent Windows Phone 8 information was a controlled leak, to reassure the market that Microsoft was still in the game.
I am however relatively sure it is not, due to the very real Osborne effect the news is having on Microsoftâ€™s current handsets. I have come across many comments over the last 2 days of people saying â€œI was going to buy a Nokia Lumia 900, but now I am going to wait to see what Nokia can do with Windows Phone 8â€.
The danger is seriously disappointing sales which suck the momentum that is slowly building in Marketplace and with Nokiaâ€™s new offerings.
The damage is already done for those who insist on waiting for HD screened handsets, but for the majority who are merely not wanting to buy a handset which will not run the latest OS in a mere 9 months Microsoft can do a lot simply by announcing that current generation handsets will be upgradable to Windows Phone 8.
As long as the silence continues doubt will grow, and sales will suffer.
Are our readers hesitant to upgrade to pre-apollo handsets, and would you be reassured if you knew they were upgradable? Let us know below.
We were recently disappointed to see Windows Phone 7 crown jewels like Xbox Live show up on iOS, and some evidence that more features will be going that way too.
ZombiesAtemyXboxÂ asked Joe Belfiore for a comment, andÂ receivedÂ the following response:
Xbox team is balancing growing their business/increasing Xbox popularity with helping WP7 be successful. I predict some of both, always.
This is of course the expected answer, but also makes it clear that what’s good for the Xbox team is not necessarily good for Windows Phone 7, and that we can not always expect Microsoft to act in the best interest of their mobile platform.
The issue of course is that there is a hugeÂ discrepancyÂ between the importance and success of Microsoft’s mobile platform, and that Windows Phone 7 could use all the help it could get. Â Reducing the number of exclusive draws for the platform may help maintain the status quo, but will do nothing to help move Windows Phone from virtually zero market share to something more significant.
If Microsoft’s share price is to see a significant move they need to get the whole company behind Windows Phone 7, rather than having every division looking out for themselves only.
Michael Mace, ex-Palm many years ago, has posted an interesting article on the failure of webOS.
While he takes on board the claim by Paul Mercer that the failure was in part was due to webkit being unsuitable for an application framework, he notes that a slow, under-featured operating system is normal for the first release of a product.
An operating system is an incredibly complex piece of software, just about the most complex software you can write. In the first version of an OS, the list of features you want to add is always much longer than what you can implement, there are always bugs you can’t find, and performance is always a problem. What’s worse, there is a built-in tension between those three problems — the more features you add, the more bugs you create. The more time you spend fixing bugs, the less time you have to improve performance. And so on. As a result, every new operating system, without exception, is an embarrassing set of compromises that frustrates its creators and does not deliver on the full promise of its vision.
The words are something to bear in mind when we become impatient with the slow feature add of Windows Phone 7.
The operating systems that succeed are the ones that survive long enough for their big flaws to be fixed. That happens if the OS’s supporter has a deep, multi-version commitment to it (Windows) or if the OS does something else so compelling that customers are willing to buy it despite its flaws (graphics on the Mac). Your chances are best if you have both patience and differentiation.
The lesson: Who’s your daddy, and what’s your killer feature?
He notes Microsoft has the deep pockets to keep hacking away at Windows Phone 7 and make it perfect, but lacks the killer features that will make consumers buy the phones despite their flaws.
Michaelâ€™s analysis makes a lot of sense to me, and resonates with my editorial a few days ago â€“ Microsoft needs to leverage its assets to give Windows Phone 7 exclusive features which resonate with the billions of Windows users.
Make the phones instant secondary screens to PCs when plugged in via USB to PCs, make them the perfect remote access client for Windows, let them work as extra controls for all Xbox 360 games, whatever, but do something compelling and make it exclusive â€“ without exclusive features to draw customers in Windows Phone could end up as webOS 2.
Over the recent week we have been fed a steady diet of apps previously thought to be exclusive to Windows Phone to iOS. Unlike Goodeye above I would not include apps we knew from the start would be cross platform, like SkyDrive or Lync.
However apps like Xbox Live, Halo Waypoint and Kinectimals were certainly not expected to arrive on iOS, and their announcement, without any run-up, also came as much of a surprise and had a certain air of sneakiness to it.
Now we know the arguments that Microsoft is a software company who make their money where they can, and there is a certain validity to that. We also get the argument that this increases Microsoftâ€™s exposure on the dominant mobile platforms, which would help the company appear less irrelevant.
On the other hand, Microsoft is more than a software vendor. They are also a platform company, with Windows the main product and Xbox 360 another. Windows Phone was meant to be the third screen, but we know via Steve Ballmer that Microsoft is disappointed with the sales so far.
With the release of a flood of iOS, are we seeing Plan B in action â€“ the plan were Windows Phone does not rise to 20% market share and where Microsoft does not have a relevant mobile platform of its own.
It is interesting that much of this movement coincides with the transfer of Andy Lees, which many see as a demotion, away from Windows Phone. It has been said that this is part of a more results-focussed approach by Microsoft, where underperformance does not remain unpunished. While Andy can boast having 10% as many apps as iOS, having only 2% of the market share is likely well below target.
Do our readers feel like Goodeye above â€“ that all Microsoftâ€™s crown jewels will come to iOS in any case, in many cases better and first, or are we over-reacting? Let us know below.
As CNET’s Luke Westaway said in the Nokia Lumia vs iPhone vs Android comparison today, “there just aren’t very many desirable apps and games on Windows Phone yet, with developers preferring to build apps for iOS and Android.”
This may hurt the egos of Windows Phone fans, but franklyÂ it is true and is a valid disadvantage of Windows Phone 7. Over time, more and more apps will become available for Windows Phone and may even surpass iOS someday, but we are in the present right now and the iPhone’s app store is far better than Windows Phone.
Sure, some users may find all their app needs satisfied with the Windows Phone Marketplace. However, there are way too many common apps that your “average user” needs but doesn’t have on WP7.Â For the record, my definition of an average user isÂ someone who isn’t a techy and simply uses their smartphone for fun and to make their life easier.
Now I must put some evidence behind these claims. Therefore, here is a small list of apps that an average user is missing out on. One average user’s desires are of course different than another’s, but the point is, there are definitely some apps that users want but can’t have… Continue reading
That did not take long. We all know how other people invent features that Apple then steals, and a few months later everyone believes Apple is actually the only one with the technology, and everyone else are bad copy cats.
It has just happened with the camera feature in Windows Phone 7, with the IBNLive reporter, who attended the Indian launch of Windows Phone 7.5 Mango, complained that Windows Phone lacked a good way of getting to the camera from the lock screen.
What is missing is the direct access to the camera right from the lock screen as in the iPhone 4S. This feature is also expected in the forthcoming Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).
How long before reporters start complaining Windows Phone 7 users cant send text messages by voice? The above is just another example of the reason why Microsoft and Windows Phone 7 does not get the credit for features which are in fact better implemented. I think its time for Microsoft to do some (very loud) comparative advertising.
Thanks bhogal for the tip.
I’m sure almost everyone has noticed that each time you visit the “New” category of the Marketplace, you’re bombarded with tons of useless apps that could be condensed into a single app. This was especially apparent today, when a single developer released fourty, yes four – zero, versionsÂ of essentially the same app: “I Love [Team Name]“.
The issue of spam, junk, and repetitive apps is a problem with every app store. Apple and Android both have their fair share of useless apps too. However, Microsoft could choose to uphold the quality of the Marketplace and prevent developers releasing so many junk apps.
To solve this problem, a system could be enacted where developers can only submit two new applications each month. That would instantly restrict developers like VivendoByte.net from spamming the new apps section with 40 copies of the same app. This restriction would still allow true developers to release plenty of apps, since true apps will likely take more than two weeks to develop. App submissions should also be cross-referenced with the developer’s previous apps, so that they cannot release ten apps that should simply be one single app.
If a system similar to this was enacted, visiting the New category of the Marketplace would be extremely more useful for the end users. Sure, it would slow down theÂ growth of our Marketplace, but is everyone truly immature enough to only want the biggest number? Quality matters. Microsoft may want to be able to claim that their app store is the biggest, but that doesn’t matter to the actual users of Windows Phone, who want apps they actually use! I, personally, can hardlyÂ ever find anything interesting in the New category. What has your experience been?
One would have thought the departure of HTCâ€™s chief innovation officer Horace Luke would have resulted in some improvement in HTCâ€™s design ethos.
Unfortunately one would be very disappointed.
Scott Croyle, previously vice president of design and ex One and Co, who designed the iconic HTC Diamond, is Horaceâ€™s successor and is not planning to rock the boat at all.
â€œWeâ€™re always questioning how we approach design, even if weâ€™re not necessarily making a radical changeâ€ he told Venture Beat.
Although Croyle stated that design is and will always be a focus at HTC, he also said, since Luke and Croyle have similar philosophies and inspirations, we can expect incremental shifts in how HTC handsets look and feel and not to hold oneâ€™s breath for any seismic activity.
â€œHorace led HTC through a transition, creating a culture that puts a major emphasis design,â€ Croyle told VentureBeat. â€œThat culture continues to thrive todayâ€¦ [HTC CEO] Peter Chouâ€™s attention to detail forces us to keep designing products that give people the opportunity to create their own memorable experiences.
â€œIn this sense, my day-to-day wonâ€™t change, given that our â€˜consumer firstâ€™ focus is core to our DNA.â€
In the near future, Croyle said the company will â€œconcentrate on delivering more content and services into our products, focusing on the user experience. For example, larger screens for streaming video and enhancing the entertainment experience, and front and rear camera to take advantage of real-time face chatting with friends and family.â€
Croyle seemed to be largely unaware of the current mediocre design language of HTC handsets. He noted product design language was first implemented in Taiwan and then sent for refinement to One and Co in USA.
He gave the recently launched HTC Flyer as an example. The tablet-cum-stylus combo was first sketched out at the companyâ€™s Taiwan headquarters. After executives hammered out a product-specific design language, the Flyer project was shipped off to the companyâ€™s Seattle-based user experience team. The Seattle teamâ€™s goal was to make user experience suggestions based on how consumers interacted with HTC product.
This is the opposite of real design-led companies like Apple, where the look, feel, shape and design of the phone is fixed first, and the technology is found to fit the design, not the other way around.
HTCâ€™s Android success has masked the increasing failure in their design department, but there is little doubt that this will catch up to them eventually.
Maybe its time for HTC to have another wake-up call.
Read the full article at Venturebeat here.
Xconomyâ€™s Wade Roush have published an interesting editorial on the mobile market, and notes that with HP dropping out of the phone business, and RIM rapidly crashing out of the market, he is rooting for Microsoft as the new mobile underdog.
He notes the ecosystem needs a â€œstrong third optionâ€ to he healthy and stable, according to the â€œRule of Threesâ€.
Thereâ€™s a concept in economics called the Rule of Three. Itâ€™s the tendency observed across many types of markets for customers to clump around three generalistsâ€”that is, companies competing to sell a full line of products. Think of United, America, and Delta; Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian; or, in the old days, ABC, NBC, and CBS, or Ford, Chrysler, and GM. Such markets tend to function best when no single player controls more than 40 percent or less than 10 percent of the marketâ€”at least, thatâ€™s what marketing professors Rajendra Sisodia of Bentley College and Jaqdish Sheth of Emory University found in a study of more than 200 industries.
Together, the three leaders usually control 70 to 90 percent of a market. But if one competitor gains more than a 40 percent share, Sisodia and Sheth found, it often becomes too expensive to operate and attracts anti-monopoly scrutiny. If it falls below 10 percent, it risks becoming a niche player, forced to spend its energy fending off other small specialists.
Wade notes Microsoft may not be Appleâ€™s equal when it comes to user-centric design, but is â€œway ahead of Google, where engineers clearly rule and designers have had a notoriously hard time being heard.â€
Microsoft is now the only force that can save us from an Apple-Google duopoly in mobile computingâ€”which increasingly means all consumer computing. â€¦ I never thought I would hear myself saying thisâ€”but a stronger Microsoft means more innovation for everyone.
So there we have it, a perfectly rational reason for rooting for Microsoft in the mobile wars.
Read the full editorial at Xconony here.
More than 2 months ago the ChevronWP7 team, who famously provided a free service to developer-unlock Windows Phone 7 handsets and then pulled the service as soon as they felt some heat from Microsoft, promised to provide a â€œcheapâ€ unlocking service which was â€œblessedâ€ by Microsoft.
Unfortunately it was discovered that this â€œblessedâ€ system was pretty neutered, not providing access to most of the base system of Windows Phone 7, such as the file system or registry, prompting some commenters to call the ChevronWP7 team â€œsell-outsâ€.
Chevronlabs â€œunlockedâ€ devices would not even be able to change the accent colours for example.
The team then revealed the service, which has still not launched, will be costing $9 per device, which if only a small percentage of the 5 million +Â Windows phone 7 users take advantage off could earn the trio around several hundred thousand dollars.
The ChevronWP7 team, which consists of Rafael Rivera, Chris Walsh,Long Zheng, have not explained that they have done to deserve earning more than 95% of the hard working developers on the platform, and I would contend the $9 they intend to charge is a rip-off of the highest order.
I would therefore suggest to Rafael Rivera and the rest that the service they intend to offer is close to worthless, and should therefore be truly free.
Picture credit WPCentral.com
Professor Dennis Gallatta at the Harvard Human Factors in Design lab has performed a usability study comparing iPhone, Windows Phone 7, Android and Blackberry, seeing how well novice users were able to complete 3 tasks – make a call, send a text and add a contact.
While Windows Phone 7 did pretty well, I think the study revealed a major weakness in the stylish Metro design – some icons are not as intuitive as the designers of the UI may have imagined, leading to poor discoverability.
Of course how novice users fare is not necessarily a good test of usability – is is how easily one completes tasks once one is over the familiarity bump that is also important, and hopefully that will also be tested in the future.
While Windows Phone 7 did well in this test, I can help but feel it could have done even better with some further design tweaks.
What do our readers think? Let us know below.
One annoyance of Windows Phone 7 which has not been addressed in Windows Phone 7 Mango is that full screen apps, both 3rd party and native like Internet Explorer, obscures the network and battery status indicators, meaning that one has leave those applications to see for example if you are connected to WIFI or 3G, or if your battery is about to expire. With 3rd party apps sometimes having long start-up times this can be particularly annoying.
One simple solution which presents itself is to add these indicators to the music controls, accessible by pressing the volume up button, and which are enabled on all screens in any case, and which are already arranged similarly on the Mango lock screen.
Of course it is much too late to add this to Mango, but there is always Tango to look forward to.
Do our readers share my annoyance with full screen apps obscuring the status controls and agree with the proposed solution? Let us know below.
One of Appleâ€™s greatest strengths, even when they were down, is how skilfully they interact with the media, creating huge excitement for the products and mindshare way beyond their market share.
It seems Microsoft may have learn a thing or two from the company, with Microsoft dealing much more deftly with the media than previously, and has managed to increase the mind share of Windows Phone 7 tremendously, despite low sales numbers.
As one can hear in the above video, an excerpt from the Windows Phone Dev podcast featuring Brandon Watson, for Microsoft is was not just about the timing of the release of Mango, but also making sure the right influential bloggers had scoops, which would ultimately also make them look more favourably on the software.
Microsoft has also managed to extend the excitement around Mango by not revealing all the so-called 500 new features, meaning multiple articles are being written over an extended period as each new feature pop up.
I am sure the flood of official apps we have seen recently and even pushing back the release of Angry Birds to coincide with the release of Mango to the media are all also related to this.
Of course this is somewhat consumer unfriendly â€“ we want to know everything as soon as possible in one sitting, but in terms of keeping up interest in the OS in the slow months before its release on new hardware Microsoft could not really have done it better, and for the health of the OS that is a pretty good thing.
One of the surprising elements of Windows 8 was that its new Modern Shell would co-exist with the existing Aero shell, allowing users to easily flip between the two. The new MOSH shell will ship as a default on Windows 8 PCs, even those that are not touch enabled, and will allow developers for this layer to get a front row seat in the billion PC market Microsoft currently dominates.
At the same time users will not have to give up their huge legacy base of applications, making Windows 8 a slot-in for most situations, and giving Microsoft a real fighting chance in the tablet space, where they are certainly coming from behind.
The question therefore arises â€“should Windows Phone 7 have followed the same strategy of offering a new, modern shell, but still allowing old applications to run in the old shell? One of the surprises to myself when predicting the adoption of Windows Phone 7 was that it did not immediately take over the market share of Windows Mobile, which was selling around 4 million phones a quarter. The last stats we have from Q1 2011 was that Windows Mobile was still outselling Windows Phone 7 for example.
In hindsight it is of course clear that while Windows Phone 7 was bright and new, if is far from mature, and that is what many buyers want. Would Microsoft have garnered more market share for their new OS if they allowed users to have the best of both worlds, but make Metro the default? Sure, Microsoft would not have satisfied the critics calling for a clean slate, but then these people do not run multi-billion dollar companies and do not deserve the attention they seem to get.
Do our readers think that Microsoftâ€™s Windows 8 strategy should have been applied to Windows Phone 7 also? Let us know below.