Mobile Update – August 6, 2012

Hi mobile followers! Here are some of the interesting recent stories in mobile industry along with my unique commentary.

Mobile News

Making Sense of Mobile Browser Marketshare Numbers

I’ve been seeing all sorts of different data about mobile browser market share that didn’t seem to make sense. Lets see if we can sort it out…

According to NetMarketshare (a well known source for browser marketshare numbers), Mobile Safari usage is 66% of all mobile browsing and Android Browser is at 19%. How can this be? We know that Android has over 50% of the smartphone market, and iPhone has about 30%. How can Mobile Safari be used over three times as much as Android?

Then I thought, does that include iPad too? According to Chikita, iPad has 91% of tablet browsing traffic. If that’s true, that could be bringing Mobile Safari up on NetMarketshare’s numbers but 66% still seems high.

Then I saw that Daring Fireball had a link to some other interesting information. According to analysis of Akamai traffic a huge portion of iOS web traffic is over wifi. For cellular traffic iOS and Android are almost the same. This is consistent with other analysis I’ve heard claiming that iOS users use their devices at home (on and therefore on wifi) more than Android users.

So, when you include iPad and wifi usage, iOS web usage appears to be much higher than Android. The lesson here is that any one piece of data is not enough to understand the whole story.

Will the Tablet Replace the Smartphone?

GigaOm’s Kevin Tofel seems to think that tablets will replace smartphones in the coming years. His argument basically is that the larger screens on tablets make they so much more useful than smartphones that we will find a way to carry these devices around instead.

While I do agree that you can do things with a tablet that are difficult with a phone, I think both devices have a place in our future for two reasons: Portability and the Cloud.

Portability: Simply put, tablets are just too big to take everywhere. Tofel compares tablets to day planners which can be big and bulky but people did not take them everywhere we went as we do smartphones. People carried their day planners around the office, but did not carry them out to dinner or while running errands. In the last few years we have grown accustomed to always being connected and I don’t think we’re willing to give that up. Unless clothing styles change radically or men learn to carry purses we are not going to always be able to always carry a tablet around.

The Cloud: We used to have to choose which device was going to hold our data and that was the one we needed to have with us. PDAs let us sync data with our PCs, but that was a manual process and only certain data could be synced. With cloud computing (whether it be Google, SkyDrive, iCloud, or whatever you like) all of our devices will automatically be kept in sync with each other. That allows us to use whichever device is most convenient at the time without worrying about where the data is. When you’re going out to dinner a phone may be better than a large tablet. When you’re going to a meeting, the tablet may be the better choice.

In conclusion, instead of becoming a tablet-centric world, I think we’re headed for a multi-device world where people will use whichever device is most convenient. With 25% of smartphone owners also owning a tablet, we’re already well on our way.

Source: BusinessWeek

Romney Campaign Uses Smartphone App to Announce VP

Who will Mitt’s VP be? If you want to be the first to know, download the “Mitt’s VP” app for iOS or Android and you’ll get a push notification as soon the selection is public. You’ll have to create an account and provide some personal info but that’s a small price to pay for political junkies who want to be first to know, right?

My Take: This is an interesting way to collect information about supporters. Politics has made the leap to mobile! God help us all!

Google News

Google Wallet Gets a Major Update

Google has released Google Wallet 2.0 which is a major update to their NFC payment application. Wallet 2.0 brings the ability to use any credit card or debit card with your wallet. Wallet 1.0 only worked with Citibank MasterCard or the Google Debit MasterCard.

Being able to use any card makes the product much more useful, but it does not work as you would expect. Instead of making deals with the credit card companies and banks to support Wallet, Google is tying Wallet 2.0 to your online Google Wallet account. Google Wallet Online, formerly Google Checkout, acts like PayPal in that lets you make payments at online retailers that support the service but the actual payment is made by whichever card you associate with your online account.

With Wallet 2.0 on Android, Google uses their debit MasterCard to make the purchase at the retailer and then charges your Wallet Online account so the actual payment comes from whichever card you associated with your online account. The catch is that purchases made from your phone will appear on your credit card statement as “Google Wallet”, not the name of the retailer where the transaction occurred. This can make managing your statement more difficult.

Source: CNN

My Take: This is a clever move on Google’s part to get some desperately needed life into this product. Being locked into one credit card from one bank made Wallet useless to most people. This will open the service up to many more users.

This solution is basically what I expecte Apple to do if they release a payment system, except that Apple would charge your iTunes account instead.

Will this bring life to Google Wallet? There is still a long way to go, but they just removed a major restriction to the product. The mobile payment space continues to be interesting!

Ice Cream Sandwich Is Up to 16.7% of Android Usage

According to Google’s statistics, Android 4.0 (aka Ice Cream Sandwich) now represents almost 17% of all Android usage. This is a big jump from the 7% it had back in June.

Source: GigaOM

My Take: Most new Android phones are running ICS and ICS upgrades are starting to hit last year’s phones and we can finally see that in Google’s numbers. This is important as Android 4 is a huge leap over 2.3 which is still running in the vast majority of Android phones. Hopefully soon Android 4 will have enough marketshare that developers can take advantage of its features without fear of abandoning a big part of their potential market.

Apple News

Next iPhone to be Announced September 12?

The current scuttlebutt being reported is that Apple will announce the next iPhone on September 12 with a release date of September 21.

My Take: It sounds plausible to me that the next iPhone will come out in September. The iPhone 4S came out last October so the time is about right. Whether there will be an iPad  mini or not is anyone’s guess.

If you were thinking about buying a new iPhone, you may want to wait. You’re going to have to live with it for two years, so you might as well get the latest model.

The rumors about the next iPhone include:

  • a new taller 4.0 inch screen
  • a redesigned case with a smaller dock connector and headphone jack on the bottom
  • 4G LTE support

Apple/Samsung Trial Kicks Off

Apple’s lawsuit against Samsung for copying Apple designs went to trial this week and not without some drama. Samsung disclosed evidence disallowed by the court to the media. The judge was not pleased, but did not grant Apple’s request to sanction Samsung.

Source: the Verge

My Take: It is really interesting that Apple is willing to expose itself to the extent it has for this trial. They are even exposing secret market research data (even though they tried to supress it.) Then again, they are asking for $2.5 billion in damages so I guess that is worth the risk.

Other than the entertainment of the petty bickering between the two mobile titans, the trial has been a rare glimpse into Apple and how it created the iPhone and iPad. Pictures of rejected prototypes let us see what types of things Apple was thinking about.

One of the funnier moments of the trial was when Samsung’s own lawyers mixed up their own devices (see 11:13am). Pays to hire the best, huh?

I don’t know how this trial will end, but whatever the result it will have to put more strain on the Apple/Samsung relationship. This is an important relationship as Apple buys many of the components for its iDevices from Samsung.

Get some popcorn! More drama ahead as Samsung continues questioning Apple executives.

Microsoft News

Analyst Calls the Microsoft Surface the Next Zune

According to InformationWeek, Canalys analyst Tim Coulling said that “the information available to date suggests the prices of both will be too high to capture significant market share, and a direct sales approach will prove inadequate” and that “we expect the Surface pads to have a similar impact on the PC industry as Zune did in portable music players.”

My Take: I continue to find it amusing how bent out of shape analysts are about the Microsoft Surface. They analyze, criticize, and make predictions about a product that NO ONE HAS USED and that no pricing or availability information has been offered. (BTW, this is especially true of the pro-Apple sites.)

Surface may be wonderful, or may be terrible. It may be a great deal or a lousy one. I have no idea. I haven’t used one. NO ONE ELSE HAS USED ONE EITHER. How about we let them ship the thing and let people actually use them? Then we can judge how good or bad the product is. Or is that just too crazy of an idea?

Source: Yahoo! News, InformationWeek

Microsoft Dropping “Metro” Name

Microsoft is dropping the name “Metro” to describe the UI used in Windows Phone 7/8, Windows 8, and Windows RT and is advising software vendors to not use the term when naming or describing their products. This is because Metro AG, a large German retailer, is threatening to sue Microsoft over copyright.

Source: the Verge

My Take: I do find this whole affair curious. Metro AG is a large powerful company, roughly the German equivalent of WalMart, but Microsoft has been using the name Metro since 2010 when Windows Phone 7 was introduced and has been using it extensively since. Asymco points out that in the Windows 8 keynote last September the word “Metro” was used 81 times.

Why is this a problem now and not months ago? And why couldn’t Microsoft work out a deal with Metro AG? Apple has worked out deals for the names iPhone and iPad.

One other note. Microsoft has not yet named the term to replace Metro. A memo from Microsoft legal asked employees to use the term “Windows 8 Style UI” until a new term was named. The last part of the request was somehow lost on the media and pundits started beating up Microsoft for adopting the less than catchy term “Windows 8 style UI”. That is not the case. As much fun as it is to bust on Microsoft and their marketing department, let’s do that when they actually deserve it.

And that’s the news. Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow!

About Lee J.

Mobile Guy!
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