Nothing to get excited about.

Motorola announces an Android tablet at CES 2011 and already some of my Android loving buddies are saying "this is the device I've been waiting for".  My response, "Why?".   Motorola announces that they are building something that may or may not have certain hardware or software features, that will be available sometime this year, and for an as yet undetermined price.  What is it that Motorola expect buyers to get excited about now?

Do consumers really want to spend hundreds of dollars on a device that can only connect to the Internet via a cell phone plan?  Samsung went that route with the 7" Galaxy Tab — which a lot of my geek friends swore was the "IT" Android device — but sales have been lackluster.

The thing won best of show at CES 2011 but yet no member of the press has been able to actually use one.

We were not allowed to touch it and other sites have reported that the interface displayed on the device was merely a video representation of the UI in action. ~ (via )

When Apple announces a product they provide working units for the press to use, they announce features, a ship date and pricing etc.  They use the press to do the work of telling consumers why (and when) they should set aside money to buy.

Honeycomb hasn't been released yet. Many tablets at CES that will be released with that software were not showing off live versions of it at the show. Several analysts said software - and the apps developed for it - are what will set winning tablets apart from the pack, but for now it's too soon to tell how compelling they will be. "At the end of the day, that's what's going to sell the device," said [Richard Shim, a DisplaySearch analysts]. ~ (via

The press often talks about Apple's reality distortion field but I think the marketing department at Motorola and Google need to go back to school.

A lot of products don’t make it out of CES.  There were a lot of tablet devices demoed/announced at 2010 CES.  None of those shipped.  I would be more interested if Sony announced an Android product. But they are surprisingly quiet.

I think my tech geek friends spend way too much time focused on the tech cool factor and specs and too little time thinking about how people might actually use or understand technology.  It's the megahertz and megapixel and 3D TV hype all over again.  I think this quote from Joe Taylor, CEO of Panasonic North America, shows he gets where things are going:

"Essentially, we want to make an intuitive device. A 70-year-old could figure out how to use it without looking at an operating guide" ~ ( via Reuters ).

Android vs the carriers

I’m sick and tired of hearing about how Android OS is open and how Apple’s iOS is closed.  The open mantra geeks don’t seem to realise that Android OS adoption is only taking off because money is being made — in my not so humble opinion.  It’s about business — not philosophy.  Not some fracking community-altruistic-save-the-world-kumbaya thing.  Google didn’t release Android OS to make sure you had a cool open-source OS for your hardware.   They did it to make money.  Period.

Most of the intelligent critiques of Android OS are about the way it is being offered/marketed by the carriers to customers.  Some people think all Android OS phones are Droid even when you tell them otherwise.  The carriers, not Google, are using Android OS as a sword against each with the consumer as collateral damage.  Verizon announced they are packing their phones with their [own app store].

With VCAST Apps, Verizon is stealing a page from Apple, offering a curated app menu showcasing what it deems the best apps. All apps available on VCAST will be screened by the company, similar to how Apple vets software for its App Store.

While some will applaud this as a good thing, I can’t help but see the irony and Verizon’s hypocrisy in doing this.  Verizon’s ads once criticised Apple for having a locked-down store but watch them now.

By vetting apps, Verizon also appears to be trying to distinguish itself from the Android OS Market, which does not scrutinize apps before they appear in the storefront.

Yes, you can root or jailbreak your device but rooting, or jail-breaking is a solution to the same issue Apple was criticised for — locking down the device.  So as much as Apple locking down the app store is seen as a negative — but a competitive choice by Verizon— I think it is fair to report that the same thing is happening in the Android OS arena.  It’s not all smiles and frozen yoghurt.

The philosophy of being open source assumes that everyone has the knowledge and power and the desire to use openness.  But if the majority of consumers want utility, then openness is irrelevant.

I don’t care about open versus closed — and I don’t think most consumers do either — because I don’t write code or care about what’s under the hood.  I want a large selection of applications on a stable platform and integration with the rest of my computing life — at home and work.  For me, that means an iPhone. For others, Android OS is the best choice.  For most others, Nokia (the largest user base) or RIM.

There is a reason these OS have a significant market share, and it has very little to do with open source.  It has to do with a combination of hardware, software and marketing.  Android OS’s market share is growing because of the blitzkrieg of advertising and two for one pricing from the carriers.  In the end, the best marketed mouse trap sells.

With all the cheap Android OS-based phones being used, eventually, people will want to use them for work-related activities.  In some enterprises, Android OS use is increasing while in others — heavily regulated high-risk industries like banking/finance, pharma, etc. — not at all.

My employer only supports RIM, Windows Mobile and iOS (iPhone/iPad) for integration with their calendar, email, VPN and Citrix systems.  Why?  Because enterprise-level policy management software exists within Microsoft’s enterprise software stack — Active Directory, Exchange and ActiveSync — to enforce security and IT policy compliance.  With Windows and Apple iOS devices, these management tools are free.

Microsoft already has a fait accompli when it comes to enterprise software.  From the desktop to the database, to storage, web server, directory — the entire stack is tightly integrated and works well to meet business needs. Third-party software and network appliance manufacturers build in support for Microsoft’s stack, making it that much more valuable to the enterprise.  That’s why RIM and iPhones have built-in support for ActiveSync and Active Directory.

Keep in mind that it cost nothing for my employer to enable the security policy (secure remote wipe, forced screen lock and password policy) management of iOS devices.  It’s built into the device.  Apple even provides a free iPhone configuration utility.

With Android OS, we are starting to see [attempts] at solutions for meeting enterprise information security needs? But that costs money, and with IT budgets sliced and diced and razor-thin — free tools win.

Writing as someone who works for a large enterprise, I think for Android OS to be taken seriously by the enterprise — and my employer — will require cheaply available software tools that ensure security and compliance with government regulations.  Google should start talking to its enterprise customers — Apple’s been out to talk to us three times — and work with carriers to address some of these shortcomings.  In its infancy, the iOS platform was criticised for its lack of enterprise readiness compared to RIM.  Now it’s Android OS’s turn.

More carriers will start offering their own locked-down versions of Android OS.  This will only validate Apple’s business model.  The über geeks can still go ahead and root their device for a “pure” experience — they just won’t be allowed to use the enterprise network or systems.

This article was originally posted at by Khürt Williams and is his personal opinion. Copyright 2010 Khürt Williams, All Rights Reserved.

[own app store]: OS-compete-against-google/
[attempts]: OS/


What we need to see is how Android 2.2 gets rolled out to existing handsets. I’m already getting blasted by owners of various Android phones wanting to know when their handset will get the update. The truth is I don’t know, and I’m not sure anyone does yet. The phone update process hasn’t changed — Google released Froyo to partners, OEMs decide if they want to release it for a given phone and then the carrier has to bless the update and actually roll it out. I suspect that many existing phones will never get Android 2.2, and that will be a pity.

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