Tech Talk #5: Technology News

So, what’s the future for Android, and what’s new from Amazon?

Android…Take a Pill, Lose a Tablet?

When Android arrived, the geeks embraced what was two fingers straight up at the established mobile platform O/S’s, especially Apple iOS. Android was going to do to them what Linux was trying to do to Windows. Well – remember Psion? The British company that was once No. 1 in the PDA market. It did not fade away when the market switched to Nokia Communicators and Palm Treos, it just lost huge market share and ceased to have any technological impact. And when Psion effectively gave the OS to Nokia in the form of Symbian, the same thing happened  – as the iPhone arrived and was taken up by far more NEW consumers, Symbian held their user numbers steady (for a while at least), but their market share dissipated. The point I’m making here is, that it’s very difficult to actually kill something off.

And so now to Android. It can be postulated that outside of the geeks, mainstream consumers actually didn’t care about Android one way or the other, and they only bought Android phones because the network providers were positioning HTC, Samsung, etc as credible iPhone equivalents (the only exception being China). If you want to challenge that thought, consider that when Android tablets arrived, they failed to make a dent in the market because there were no significant network providers trying to steer customers in the same way. And so Android tablets have never established any respectable market share, except through the singular presence of Samsung.

Except now that Samsung lost a landmark $1Bn lawsuit with Apple – Android’s time in the limelight might well be up already. The ruling has confirmed what many of us thought: Android is nothing but a 2nd rate copy of Apple iOS, and thus is not ‘better’ by definition. If you remove Samsung’s Galaxy range out of the Android offering, there is no market presence by Android. Sony, Motorola, Dell, Asus Archos, Acer, Arnova – none of them have any market presence. It was always down to Samsung (who make their own components, don’t forget) and their ‘Apple inspired’ devices. Outside of these guys, all that’s left is Blackberry with their proprietary OS, and Amazon’s Kindle which has a GUI so thick you can’t tell that it has got Android underneath.

The iPhone 5 and mini-iPad are due to be announced in the next fortnight, with pre-launch inventory (4M mini-iPads rumoured in stock) and sales expectations that should propel Apple to a $1Trillion company. Unless someone else has a secret development locked away, Android has no other storefront vehicle to challenge Apple. Because let’s face it – Google don’t have a clue how to market its own Nexus 7 now that it’s out. And still, there is dominant PC OS house Microsoft to release their Win8, and their tablet, the ‘Surface, and all the other copies that Dell, HP, Lenovo etc will undoubtably release.

In short, Apple iOS increased sales volume will squeeze Android’s market share even lower. The internet will all jump on the bandwagon that Android is sunk, and those tablet makers are all going to have to go back to their offices and come out with something genuinely innovative.

Amazon Kindle… on Fire!

Keen to show the world that Apple don’t own every market sector (yet?), Amazon announced that it has completely sold out of the first-generation Kindle Fire, just as it gets hyped to launch the next-generation Kindle Fire this autumn. Although the actual numbers are unclear, Amazon says that the tablet has been its best-selling product since its release last year. They did say “…that in just nine months, Kindle Fire has captured 22% of tablet sales in the U.S.” The Kindle Fire carved out the 7″ Android tablet @ £125 market niche for itself, even with lots of competition, culminating in Google’s Nexus 7 that launched this summer.

Of course what separates it from all the others, are two HUGE differentiators:

– its GUI: so thick and impenetrable that you can’t see the Android underneath. In fact, it’s defined more like Apple iOS – you’re not supposed to be able to break it.

– content: what Apple has in apps & music, Amazon have in books – they’ve got so much content that they rival iTunes, and they are building a decent catalogue in films & TV too.

As for the new Kindle Fire, conjecture is abound; a purported photo of the next-generation tablet was published on the internet yesterday; its shape is a departure from the original model, suggesting this may be the widely rumored 10-inch model. No other information can be ascertained from the image beyond the presence of a front-facing camera. Others suggest there will be at least two new versions of Kindle Fire tablet — a 10-inch model and an updated 7-inch version — and the tablets are said to feature new designs and metal cases. Amazon is holding a press conference next week to unveil its next-generation tablet(s).

Just a shame we can’t buy it in the UK yet, eh?!?

Reporter: SilverFox

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