Minneapolis, MN – Organizers of Mobile March today announced the agenda for it’s second annual mobile event will be held on March 19, 2011 at the Best Buy Corporate Campus. The name Mobile March denotes not only the month in which it takes place, but also emphasizes the ongoing advancement and growth of mobile technology and the related lifestyle. Its dual track format includes more sessions than last year and will continue to offer education and information in both the Mobile Development and Mobile Business areas. In addition attendee registration includes access to Mobile March’s Mobile 3D: Demos, Dinner and Drinks featuring locally developed mobile technology the preceding night, March 18th, at CoCo in downtown St. Paul.
According to Mobile March’s Justin Grammens, “Mobile continues to grow rapidly and offers so much opportunity for developers and business. We feel we’ve expanded and increased the value of Mobile March significantly.” According to Mobile March’s Phil Wilson, “From President Obama down, with all of the talk about innovation, we believe mobile represents a clear example of that innovation and that the Twin Cities is home to leaders in both mobile development and use.”
The agenda, available online at mobilemarchtc.com, includes Mobile Development sessions addressing the development of applications for the new Windows 7 Phone with Microsoft’s Jeff Brand, HTML 5 and the Mobile Web with Mark Nutter from Area Studios, 4G, as well as an iPhone – Android Showdown with Recursive Awesome’s own Phil Olson and Rory Lonergan.
The non-technical Mobile Business track includes Cracking the Code: QR Codes and Coupons with MixMobi’s Lisa Foote and guests, Location Based Services: Mayors to Marketing with Christopher Lower of Sterling Cross Communications, and Grill Yourself, a session about what you need to know when developing a mobile app for business. The track also includes Tablet’s Mean Business with Pioneer Press Tech Writer and author Julio Ojeda-Zapata and to end off the day, an excellent session entitled On the Campaign Trail With Mobile Technology by Mark Jenkins Marquis Mobile Solutions.
The Landscape of Mobile Discussion with Pearson VUE’s Peter Pascale and a Keynote to be announced soon will target both Development and Business attendees.
Well, it finally happened.. Today is the day that many an iPhone fan has been waiting for. The iPhone is now available on the Verizon network! It has been hailed for years as the day that Apple would have access to the 93 million subscribers in the US and annihilate any other smartphone on the market ( or that is what Apple would like to have you believe ).
After hearing this news today though, I paused and thought about exactly what this might mean to other mobile OS platforms on the market and in particular, Android. In short, I believe it really does little to harm the adoption of Android.
1. Android Has Gained Adoptance : Android has been steadily cementing itself as a true contender to the iPhone throughout 2010. Last quarter it outsold the iPhone in number of units sold both in the US and worldwide. Here in the US it’s a little closer, but worldwide Android is being purchased well more than iPhone and is closing in on Symbian.
Why does this matter? The iPhone on Verizon will use CDMA technology. The possible number of carriers and subscribers able to use CDMA is much smaller than what is currently used with a competing technology called GSM. GSM is more portable ( pop your sim card out and move to another phone ), is used by vastly more carrier worldwide and more importantly GSM allows for simultaneous data AND voice to occur at the same time. Remember those iPhone commercials where people are able to call someone AND surf the web at the same time? You won’t be able to do this on the iPhone with Verizon.
2. IPhone not a 4G Device : Not only will the iPhone on Verizon be a CDMA device, it won’t be running on the new LTE (4G) network that the Android smartphone coming out around the same time will be on. What does this mean? If users are looking for fast download speeds ( 12 – 25 Mb/s ), they should skip the iPhone and purchase one of the many Android devices with LTE on the market.
3. Users Are Stubborn : It’s hard for users to change devices. So many of Verizon’s users have bought Android phones. In fact, many phones were probably just bought this past holiday season. Sorry Apple, but these users are now Android users. If the iPhone would have been on Verizon BEFORE, say Thanksgiving or even earlier in the year, it would have carried more weight. But the millions of Android devices ( recall that 300,000 A DAY were being activated at one point ) this past holiday season are now Android users and as we all know, it’s very hard to get a user to convert from one platform to another.
4. Competition is good : The assumption has been all along that when the iPhone came to Verizon, the other platforms would not be able to step up and compete. If there is one thing that I have seen in the past year is that competition in the smartphone market forces companies to innovate and create new products, new ways of solving problems and new technology. Look at Windows Phone 7 for example. Microsoft has put out a very solid device in the face of strict competition. It’s still a first stab ( arguable a much better first stab than Google’s own G1 in 2008 ) and Microsoft is innovating by trying a different design approach and user experience than both Apple and Google. Likewise with Palm WebOS V2. It’s a risk, but something that companies need to do to compete. With the iPhone coming to Verizon, it just means that Google MUST continue to improve Android. It’s a win for Android users!
5. Need Other Carriers Besides Verizon : There is still T-Mobile, Sprint and many other networks around the world that after today still DON’T have the iPhone! Even though we will see many hundreds of millions of user’s having access to the iPhone while staying on a network running CDMA technology, there’s still many, many hundreds of millions more potential user’s that this announcement doesn’t affect. If the iPhone were suddenly announced on all of the carriers in the US and worldwide that Android devices were, this would be much more of a threat.
Some people might read this as a negative article, but in reality I welcome the iPhone to Verizon! The more devices that are accessible to user, regardless of the network are better for consumers. This whole idea of “exclusive” devices per carrier is quite maddening. Owning and using both an Android device and an iPhone, I enjoy each for its own merits. At the end of the day, people will buy what devices they enjoy using and won’t have to deal with carriers exclusive terms. I dream of a day when all phones are available on any network and the consumer has true choice. Until that day though, we’ll have to wait years for an announcement like we heard today and realize that things that maybe seemed so ground breaking in a carrier controlled world, actually aren’t all that special. If things were just more open from the beginning ( imagine the market share Apple would have today if the iPhone was available on all networks back in January of 2007! ), we would have increased competition, advancement in the technology and announcements like we heard today won’t be such a… hmm, what’s the word? meh.
Some of us are excited about the iPad. In fact, who are we kidding, MANY of us are excited about the potential application for the iPad in our industry. Latest news is that Apple is selling more iPads in one month than Palm WebOS devices have sold in the past year. But, the iPad isn’t the only tablet game in town. In fact, while it is the first highly advertised device (thanks to Apple’s huge marketing budget and rightfully “cute” ad campaigns), it could be argued that it wasn’t the first to hit the shelves. While not as large, Archos released a MID (Mobile Internet Device) last fall. It runs the Android operating system, features a 5″ touch screen, has WIFI, 3G, games and applications. Never heard of it? I’m not surprised. In fact, never heard of Archos either? That wouldn’t surprise me either. Neither Archos or the tablet were advertised and consequently didn’t sell in high volumes. Why?
There are many reason for this.
True, it was not advertised every 30 minutes like I am seeing right now with the iPad, but there are other reasons. It was underpowered. It was not sexy, it did not have all of the apps that iTunes has, runs an outdated version of Android. And finally, it’s not integrated with desktop software (like iTunes) to make audio and video transfer and sharing easy.
So, what’s a person looking for alternatives to the iPad to do? The good news is… there’s A LOT to do.
Here’s a link to an article on Mashable that shows a 9 upcoming tablet alternatives to Apple’s iPad.
Android has dramatically improved. With version 2.0 and newer of Android, I can finally say that Android is no longer “in-beta”. It has a much more polished look and feel out of the box. anyone running the Froyo release (version 2.2) would have to agree with me.
The hardware is getting much better. With the 1.0 ghz, “snapdragon” and now 1.0ghz “hummingbird” processors, applications are responsive and actually doing development right on the device is faster, since you can launch and run the application in fraction of the time you could in the past. This follow the “Recursive Awesome Law #3 of software development” – the less pain developers go through, the more applications they will will write.
The sexy factor has been increased. For better or worse , the iPad has upped the bar and companies are starting to realize they not only need a functional device, but a visually appealing one as well. The new tablet/pad style devices coming out are in my opinion, head and shoulders better than the Archos MID that was released last year.
So what is still outstanding?
The biggest problem is that the Android SDK only supports 480×854, 5.0″-5.8″ as it’s highest resolution display. While the screen can be made larger on the device, support for higher resolutions won’t be coming until the next version of Android 3.0 (aka Gingerbread). That means that the manufactures will need to do some tweaking, or else just leave the default resolution and stretch the display out. The less that device manufactures need to mess with the operating system and its internals, the faster the adoption rates will be.
Another question I think still remains is any type of integration is with desktop software. But, is it really needed? The largest consumer use case that I see for a tablet device is web browsing, reading books, watching videos and listening to music. If the manufactures of these alternatives can create easy ways to either sync with iTunes, Windows Media player or offer some type of desktop client that will allow the user to push their content to the device, then these devices really have chance. The other option that we can see (and the direction the industry is going), is to have all of your digital media stored “in the cloud” and your device accesses those services wirelessly wherever you may be. This is where Google is pushing the market, and something that we will get to someday, but in the mean time, if the Android devices need to synchronize their digital media by digging through folder after folder and user must manually copy and back up their data, this will be a major turn off. Android needs to create some sort of sync utility.
So, there you have it. A basic run down of some devices contending against the iPad. We haven’t discussed the industrial/business usage which actually changes the numbers quiet a bit. In that scenario I can see the alternative to the iPad winning out since Android and other mobile platforms are free and are not restricted by Apple’s hardware or policies.
Will I get one of the these alternatives?
You bet! We already have purchased an iPad at Recursive Awesome and we working to develop a handful of iPad applications for not only ourselves, but our clients as well. But, you never bet on one horse in technology and we are always looking at the alternatives. In this case especially, the alternatives have huge potential and opportunity for those wanting to run Android or another open source operating system.
Let us know you thoughts on any of these devices!
UPDATE: It looks like since I originally wrote this post there have been some setbacks around manufactures bringing their tables to market I’m still convinced that Android tables are going to a major player in the tablet computer arena for years to come.
Recursive Awesome, along with our sponsors is proud to have founded this event. It’s set to take place on Saturday, March 27th at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Minneapolis. As space is limited, you will need to register as soon as possible. Space is filling up quickly.
In short, the conference will cover multiple aspects of mobile technology. We will have an entire track dedicated to developers and a completely separate track for those interested in business development using mobile technology.
Attendees are free to jump from room to room and learn as much as they can in the full-day long event. The doors will open at 8:30, with a keynote starting at 9:00 and sessions will go until 5:00, with networking, lunch and beverages being provided to all attendees.
If you live in the Twin Cities area, it’s an event you will definitely not want to miss. If you have any questions, you can reach any of us at Recursive Awesome or send a message through the Mobile March website at:
Over the past few weeks, we here at Recursive Awesome were able to get our hands on the 2 mobile devices Palm is currently offering on the Verizon Network – The Palm Pre and Palm Pixi running their WebOS operating system.
At the end of the day, I must say I am fairly impressed with their offerings.
It wasn’t difficult to give them back and return to my Nexus One, but they definitely do a fit a certain niche in the market and I’m a little surprised that the Palm WebOS sales have slumped as bad as they have.
On one hand you have a major carrier like Verizon doing a fairly good job of promoting the device, both in stores and in print advertising. I can’t go more than a day or so without seeing another Palm commercial, billboard or sign on a bus or at my local light-rail station stop. It would seem that there would be a lot more excitement over the device with it’s somewhat unique design, flip out keyboard, snappy interface, multi-touch (Android just got this in its latest release), and now supporting video capture and Flash. It seems like the time would be right for Palm to make a major move in to the market. Alas, though, that may not be the case.
What’s To Like
The first thing that struck me when using both of these devices was the performance. Despite their small size, they both felt very responsive and able to do multiple tasks at the same time without much lag. In comparison to some of the smaller Android devices and first generation iPhones, Palm has a very good start. They seem to have done their homework in optimization of WebOS and keeping processes lightweight and execution times short during launch and usage.
Speaking of execution of apps, WebOS allows the user to run multiple application at the same time very easily. The Palm devices have a “flick” type of gesture support that you perform on the area below the screen. If you want to jump out of an application you swipe your finger (or thumb) vertically and you are presented with a scrolling list of applications that are running. You then can swipe side to side to select the application you would like to jump into. I found at first this a little different and cumbersome, as I was used to looking for an actual button to get out of an application (i.e. the home or close buttons on iPhone or Android). However, after playing with the phone for a hour or so, it actually became very easy to master and was a feature that I got very accustomed to and liked a lot. Interestingly , it seems that Palm agrees and realizes that it might take users some time to try out this swipe feature ( when you start up the phone for the first time, they force you through an entire tutorial and exercise on how to use this gesture feature ).
Another nifty feature is what Palm calls “Synergy”. It links together all of your contacts into one list, with calendars, and status updates pulled in from all of your various accounts (GMail, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Exchange, etc.).
I also personally like the fact that WebOS is built on top of the Linux operating system and all things being equal will support a company pushing the use of open source software over their own proprietary software and lock-in model.
What’s To Dislike
So, I’ve given a pretty good list of the likes, but what about some things that should be improved? Much of my dislikes revolve more around the hardware than the actual operating system itself. It might be because I’ve now gotten used to having a 3.7″ AMO-LED screen on my Nexus One, but it felt to me like the device was pretty cheap and not very sturdy. The screen seemed small and the device felt at times more like a toy than a true smartphone that would stand up to the test of time.
Another issue I had was with the keyboard. Neither of the Palm devices offer a virtual (on-screen) keyboard, so you are stuck using the physical keyboard on the device. While adequate I found the keys to be very small and difficult to use at times. They again felt cheap and found myself having to hunt for a number of different symbols and punctuation marks. Additionally, since the Palm Pre’s keyboard is hidden behind the screen, this requires you to pop the screen out vertically to access the keyboard. While this worked well, when the screen is open the device felt very top heavy and made using the keyboard not as nice as it could be, since I felt like the device was going to slip out my hands.
Finding and opening up the slot for the micro-USB plugin was not at all easy to use. Maybe over time the small plastic cover would be easier to open, but I found myself almost breaking the cover off trying to get access to charge and plug-in the phone.
Finally, and the most largest flaw with Palm (and probably the one that will ultimately prove to biggest hurdle) is getting application developers to create apps for this platform. At Recursive Awesome, we have done some work developing applications for these devices when it was first launched last summer, but since that time, none of our clients have been asking much at all about WebOS. If there are no applications being developed for the platform, end users certainly will suffer from lack of functionality of the device and certainly will start looking to other options of smartphones that they will purchase. While I have not seen any statistics on the true number of applications available, most think the number is in the few thousands, as opposed to the tens, or even more than one hundred thousand found on iPhone and Android.
So, who does this device work for? The prime target I see these devices working for are my parents generation. People that are not technology savvy users, that want a basic web experience with out all of the bells and whistles. I could see myself recommending this device to my mother or even grandmother for that matter. It still feels like a PDA however in some ways. Basic interface, somewhat intuitive to use (one you learn the gestures), and allows you to have all of your contacts and email in the palm of your hand.
In the end, it’s nothing really groundbreaking, but really an extension of some of the old palm devices I have owned in the past. That’s not to say that Palm is out of the game, but with the Windows Phone 7 coming out later this year, Palm will have a lot of competition on its hands. It already is a distant 4th on the smartphone circus behind iPhone, Android, Blackberry and without an injection of applications and buzz around the devices, 2010 might be the year that Palm is bought (or withers away in to the ether). Which is kind of too bad, since I do think that their WebOS, does provide some very useful and new ideas when it comes to interface design.
In honor of today being The Day that Android is officially released on the Verizon network, I thought it was fitting that I finally get the blog post out the door, that has been churning in my head all week. I’m also very deep in Android programming right now as I’m working to release another Android app for a client of mine, so Android and the future of the platform has been on my mind…
If you haven’t heard, or haven’t been watching TV or listening to the radio, the new “Droid” device, manufactured by Motorola and released on the Verizon wireless network was released today. I was lucky enough to be be invited by Albert Maruggi @AlbertMaruggi to a special Verizon Wireless pre-release” event last week to get my hands on this new device, give some initial feedback and take it through the paces. I was also able to take the phone home and have 3 days with the device and see how it performed. Finally, we all got Eclairs to take home (which were delicious by the way!) in honor of Android 2.0 being the code named “Eclair” release.
This entry will be some of what the device has done (or hasn’t done) for me, but I do have some video that I shot from using the device included near the end of this post. Just as some background, I came into this event and have been using Android since before it was officially released. I was one of the first people in line at the T-Mobile store to get my G1 and have been excited by the evolution of Android and how it was changed over the past year.
Before I start though, as a point of clarity, I don’t subscribe to the stories of “Droid is / not an iPhone Killer”. In fact, I’m very annoyed by seeing all of the articles with titles like this. The whole idea of one platform as “killing” another, really defeats the purpose of these devices and marginalizes what any device or platform will bring to market. Plain and simple, people who write articles like this and this are idiots. Want proof? Here’s an article that agrees with me. In fact, when I was at Google I/O in San Francisco earlier this year I was amazed when talking with a few Google engineers, just how open they were to competition. They really believe that competition and innovation is what is best of the consumer. It was refreshing to hear that they really weren’t all about trying to bash or take down the qualities of other devices out there. And therein is the beauty of Android. You have manufactures, focusing on what they do best (make good hardware) and Google focusing on what it does best (make good software and services). And now, you’ve got the network of Verizon to back this up.
OK, I’ll get off my soapbox now. Let’s talk about Droid!
Inside I believe that someone is either a physical keyboard user or a virtual keyboard user. That’s not to say that you can’t be trained and go from one to another, but intrinsically, I think a person will gravitate to one out of habit. I am definitely a virtual (soft) keyboard user. I liked my G1 when it had a physical keyboard, but I *REALLY* liked my G1, when we got the 1.5 update that contained the virtual (on-screen) keyboard. I just find it too awkward to have to pop/slide something out to type. Yes, you can leave the keyboard out all of the time, but I find the balance on most devices with the keyboard open to be odd and also, I prefer to view and browse sites in portrait over landscape mode. Plus, the more moving parts… the more parts that are likely to break! Thus, when I started working with Droid, I was not too impressed by the pop-out keyboard. Sure, it has back-lit keys and is OK to the touch, but the G1 keys pop out a little bit more and are actually easier to use in my opinion. The phone itself is a little boxy and I don’t understand why the screen doesn’t go all the way to the end – it kind of gives it, as Breon called it, the “inverted chin” that you may have seen with other HTC devices. I would have much preferred that the screen just go all the way to the edge. While the screen is absolutely gorgeous and supports thousands more colors than anything else on the market, I’m not sure if I’m really sold on the rectangular shape of the (854×480) shape of the screen. It’s too rectangular for me. I think maybe over time I might get used to it, but if they made the screen longer, I would have liked it if they would have bumped the width out a little bit as well. It has a long tight look too it – not my cup of tea, but is just my small nitpicking.
Overall, the phone performed flawlessly. It was by far the fastest phone I have used running Android. Part of that might be related to the speedy processor, and some might be Android 2.0. But I’m very happy to see that now Android is performing much better than the Google ION and G1 that I currently have. However, it is a little disappointing that Motorola couldn’t get the new 1Ghz Snapdragon processor in this phone, like you are going see with Sony’s X10 Experia Phone. Now, THAT is the phone that I can’t wait to try.
Here’s some rough hardware specs on the device if you are interested.
I think Motorola made some serious mistakes in the ergonomics of the device.
First, the sleep and power button are on the top. I love my Google ION (HTC Magic), because I can use just one hand to put it to sleep and then press the “menu” button to wake it back up again. Putting the button on the top was just stupid. It then always takes me two hands to pull it out of my pocket and wake it up. And then two hands to put it to sleep. Not easy to use.
Second, the volume is on the SAME SIDE as this power/sleep button. I found myself repeatedly adjusting the volume as I was putting the phone to sleep or waking it up. I can see why they had to put the volume button on that side (since the other side is the USB port for the cradle), but it’s seems like bad design and something that I know will drive some people crazy.
Third, holding and scrolling with my left hand caused some very odd behavior on the phone. It might be tough to explain and took me while to figure out what was going on, but at the bottom of the phone there are the 4 signature Android buttons – Back, Menu, Home and Search. Many of the other Android phones have these and this is no different on Droid. The problem is that they are capacitive buttons, which mean that it’s really easy to tap them by accident. When trying to scroll on webpages or in emails as I hold the phone and scroll with my thumb, the screen kept shooting back up to the top of the page! After playing around for a long time and talking with a friend about it, we came to the conclusion that it was my palm touching the far left button (“Back Button”) as I was scrolling. This causes the app to auto scroll to the top of the page. So much for walking to the bus stop in the morning and reading my emails and surfing with one hand. This by far was the worse user experience on the device.
With my 3 complaints aside, overall, the phone performs well and for most people that use two hands when using their phone, none of these issues will be a big deal. Just watch out for those capacitive buttons.
I installed a number of the apps from the market and everything I tried ran fine in Android 2.0 with the larger screen. I must applaud other Android developers for getting new versions of their apps out into the market so quickly and supporting Android 2.0. Besides Droid, there aren’t any other devices running Android 2.0, but I think that will changing in the next month or so, as I bet most all phone will be upgraded to Android 2.0 by the end of the year. Word on street currently, is that Google will have Android 2.1 out by the end of the year. Their development speed is really picking up! Verizon does have their own “tab” on the Android market, which I find is interesting, however, they have only developed 1 App for Android! That’s pretty lame guys. I applaud you for finally carrying the Droid, but now let’s see you develop some applications that use it as well. Their application is a visual voicemail application, that runs pretty good. It basically takes voicemails and converts them to text. Google voice does this already, so really there aren’t any unique apps by Verizon on the market. Would like to see them become more involved. Speaking of which… is Verizon even a member of the OHA?
I didn’t get a chance to really work through all of the specifics of Android 2.0, but a few high points that I saw as I was playing with the device.
A setting that allowed you to share files via bluetooth – very cool.
Cleaner and more crisp icons.
Soft Keyboard MUCH easier to use.
Auto brightness adjust based on ambient light – worked OK, but sometimes would change for no reason.
Google Navigator – Very sweet! I have a video demo of this below.
Google Services – This isn’t really an Android 2.0 thing, but I will reiterate that having all of your data “in the cloud” is super cool. I would have both the Droid and my Google ION on and all of the contacts, calendars, email, meetings, etc. were shared between the two since they both were accessing my same Google account! It just kind of brought it all home when I realized that I there was ZERO migration (besides apps), if I were to decide to move to another Android smartphone in the future. Very cool.
Here’s some video of the Droid in action!
Over the past week, a number of people have asked me what I think about Droid. Would I be willing changing to Verizon for this device? Is it an iPhone killer? (I won’t answer that last question) ;)
Well, here’s what I CAN say. I think Droid is a good device for someone out there, however that someone is not me. It’s not the fault of Android and it’s not the fault of Verizon or Motorola. It’s just that I’m very happy with my small compact Google ION (ie. myTouch) and there isn’t enough new on Droid to make me switch. In fact, there isn’t any other device (iPhone, Blackberry, Palm included) that makes me want to switch. My current Android phone from HTC is like little tank that keep on running. I have dropped it, kicked it, scratched it and it still keeps running. It’s small, very light, compact, can fit easily in my pocket and I can quickly pull it out and use it with one hand to get done what I need to get done. And I don’t have to baby it. The Droid is none of that for me, but it probably will be the right device for a number of other people out there. In reality, I see the Droid competing much more with Blackberry and Windows Mobile users. It’s those kind of users that I think will enjoy this device. Droid is just another option on the Verizon network for people that want a cutting edge, fast, large screen, multimedia capable smartphone backed by and integrated with all of their Google service.
Now, as some of you know, Verizon is releasing another droid phone called “Eris” today as well. Has anyone heard of that? Did people even know that “Droid” is more of a collection of phones than just 1 phone? It was pretty dumb move I think to market everything as “Droid”, but then say that you have a “HTC Droid Eris” and “Motorola Droid”. Plan on people being very confused at their local Verizon store today when they start checking out the new phone(s). However, as long as they buy one or the other and enjoy the Android experience, no one is the wiser. Android will continue to grow and developers like myself will continue to build apps. Speaking of apps… time to get back to that app. Time to run for now.
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