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Is it time to Occupy Android


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#1 Reimar

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Posted 27 October 2011 - 08:42 AM

Is it time to Occupy Android

Andrew Mayne

I wanted to share with you some thoughts on the current problem facing Android users as it illustrates an example of what happens with conflicting incentives. Much of the frustration people across the political spectrum are having right now is the ramifications of other people's incentives (corporations seeking to maximize profit, politicians seeking to buy votes with public funds, etc.)

Android was an exciting game-changing event in the realm of OS's and business models. It provided an alternative to Apple's walled garden approach and gave consumers more choice for a mobile OS.

However, three years on, the problems with model are growing. Here's a perfect example:

Google says Ice Cream sandwich, their latest OS will not be coming to the original Nexus One.

Meanwhile iOS 5 runs on the iPhone 3GS (a phone even older than the Nexus One)

Why is the 'open' platform not going to run on a phone newer than a 'closed' platform (without asking non-technical users to resort to unsupported technical fixes)?

Part I: Incentives

- For Android users this is a quandary best understood by incentives. In the Android ecosystem the phone manufacturer doesn't make anything after they sell you a phone. There's no incentive to push the update. They'd rather you just buy a new phone: Even if there's a only a 1-in-4 chance you'll buy it from them, they'll still make more money through that avenue. Updates are done begrudgingly, and usually only when they can push their own skins onto them (that most people don't want).

- Google makes their money when you use mobile search – whether it's on an older Android or an iPhone. They don't care about your OS as long as you're using a phone with Google search built in.

- Apple makes money from selling you the hardware and then getting a percentage of app store sales (plus a percentage of mobile search). They have an incentive to make their iOS backwards compatible to ensure they sell more apps. This gives a them a large non-fragmented platform than Android. The iPhone 3GS is three models back, yet it still runs the latest iOS. Apple is still selling apps, music, videos and search on older iPhones – because older, updated phones still make them money.

PART II: The Motorola Problem


Google promised to deal with the fragmentation problem, but their current actions actually run counter to that: When they purchased Motorola it only serves to make other handset manufacturers less ambitions about the Android platform.

Buying Motorola also sets Google up with conflicting incentives:

1). If they encourage Motorola to push the latest Android builds onto older phones, they serve Android users interests, while cannibalizing potential handset sales from their partners and themselves. Google's incentives would override Motorola's incentives and you have a hardware company running as a loss leader – something all the other manufacturers fear.

2.) If they let Motorola continue to do what they've done before and not push through updates to hardware that's not that old, they do their users a disservice and continue a bad practice that's making Android as a platform a less desirable choice.

Will it be the handset manufacturers or the users in this choice? We already know who Google is going to choose: their advertisers. Their overriding incentive isn't putting Android phones in people's hands, it's having the largest audience of people they can sell to marketers. They created Android because they rightfully feared Apple taking mobile search out from underneath them. But so far, it's a platform that's cost them far more than they've made or can expect to make for the next several years.

Google now has a triple threat in Facebook pushing to go more mobile, Amazon using a fork they don't control for the Kindle Fire and Apple pushing search into new areas via Siri.

With Apple and Amazon, we understand their primary incentives: They want to sell you stuff.

While Google talks about 'open', their real goal, same as it has always been, is to sell you to advertisers. Anytime they pretend that's not it, be wary.

A Solution

The biggest threat to Apple's iPad is going to be Amazon's Kindle Fire. Leaked sales figures have it outselling the iPad right now. While this may be a win for Android as a platform, it means nothing for Android users on other devices. Amazon is using a fork of the code and apps designed for the Kindle Fire are in no way guaranteed to work outside of that ecosystem.

As long as Android development is run in house by Google, their goals and directives will always be dictated by the people trying to sell advertising. We're already seeing the many problem in that model.

There are at least four solutions:

1.) Google spins off Android into an OS company.
2.) A third-party company forks Android like Amazon has done, but for mobile.
3.) A third-party non-profit takes Android along the Firefox path.
4.) Google gets carriers to give up a share of app revenue and search to handset makers.

Alternatively, we may see Amazon extend its version into phones. At that point it becomes a war between Apple and Amazon. Or we see another advertising company, Facebook step into the fray and repeat many of the same problems Google has.

Deep down I'd love to see Google explore some of those industry-shakind ideas they explored before the became just another OS platform. What about totally disrupting telecom and saying to hell with the wireless networks and the hardware manufactures?

I'm okay with them offering a product in exchange for selling me to advertisers. As long as their incentive is clear, we both get what we want. When it's severely compromised between handset manufactures and carriers, the users come last. Just ask someone who bought a Nexus One.

(Andrew Mayne is a science fiction and thriller writer: http://andrewmayne.com/books )

Source: Google Plus (https://plus.google....sts/RHcuV2AoAtH)

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#2 gopi krishna c

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 04:55 PM

all ready Occupy Android .

problem as fake china Android tablets . dameg Android good well. pl solve the original os in sets in costumer fever.

#3 essjayar2

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 01:51 PM

I'm quite happy as things are. You could set it free as open source but it'll be swallowed up by the linux community and might lose the protection and patent help from the handset owners. On the flipside, you could let Google have it all, but I don't actually think they want it. They want eyes-on-the-web, and this is just one of many platforms/techniques they're using. They don't need to be Apple - H/W and S/W both tightly controlled.

Right now it's both. Older handsets may have to turn to custom builds, but that's the handset manufacturers fault (they'd rather you buy a new one). And Google may enforce the minimum-specs more as Microsoft does to ensure tablets/handsets are capable of running the Os. You can still install it anyway, but I believe certain parts like a certification of sorts or market access may be limited.

Manufacturers like a free OS even if they can't resist tweaking it. Then again we don't want everything looking like Android + iOs either, Windows is the only other real choice and to be honest not a bad looking OS with it's tile-based screens. WebOS tried to be different too but the company didn't give it time or just didn't realise what they were getting (HP buying it from Palm). Palm were in a bad shape by then, HP - well, it was just weird.

That leaves Blackberry , and "the rest". Blackberry have hung on because they were around earlier but are losing users - at least outside the business sector. They also look and feel a little old, overly complicated, and limited to me. Symbians around somewhere and linux type things like maemo but Nokia jumped in with Microsoft. Might turn out to be the smart move for both of them in end !

The chinese market is interesting because they use more or less off the shelf parts and standard designs and include things like ethernet, usb ports - including host, hdmi, etc, sometimes dual sim and things too. Others lack basic things like GPS, bluetooth or front cameras, and poor screens, but prices reflect what you get. You don't normally find many of these features on western tabs.

Prices are converging mind, Amazons Fire was $199 and actually contradicts what I said above - it's Android, but more Amazon than Google - so there's room for every price and niche and with the OS more or less free it's only expensive hardware that either makes higher priced premium models, or are simply cut :-)
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#4 mpon

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Posted 17 February 2012 - 05:04 AM

The problem is you need big capital to fight big capital even if the root of the technology is copyleft.

#5 crysxyz

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 05:54 AM

all ready Occupy Android .

problem as fake china Android tablets . dameg Android good well. pl solve the original os in sets in costumer fever.

yes ,but china android are imbatabile prices ! is for everyone a tablet , and now you ken find tablets with harware first classe , display ips , 1G ram ...and moore :good: