Challenging fruit

There is an old saying: ‘An Apple a day, keeps the doctor away‘, which could be regarded as correct, or at least as something that is not wrong. These are essentially two statements that depending on your way of life is either more or less correct. Yet, in technology it is a lot less correct, mainly because our health does not have a chance to survive if it comes with the daily cost of $679 a day.

You see, the fruity side of mobile phones is not really an issue when we look at the IOS side of things (aka: the iPhone world), it is quite another when we look at the Android side of things. Even though this was last Wednesday’s news. There have been a few things that required digging and it has been a little bit of a chase. The article was not the first one I saw as I was watching the Google event at 04:00 (as stated in a previous blog). The article ‘Pixel is a direct challenge to Apple – and a referendum on Google‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/oct/05/google-pixel-phone-market-apple-iphone), was on my mind, but so were a few other items.

The article raises a few issues, some of them are not entirely agreeable from my point of view, so let’s deal with them.

Some do get monthly security updates, but others get Android version updates sometimes years after Google releases new versions, creating so-called fragmentation that makes it harder to develop apps and services” is the first quote I have an issue with. For this I need to step back to one of my earlier smartphones. The Motorola Razr-V. Now, when I bought it I though it was an amazing phone. I still have it, it still works and it is in a drawer somewhere. When I bought it 4 years ago 1GB was ‘da bomb’. I had 4GB storage, so I was happy as can be. I had one update, which was from Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) to Jelly Bean (4.1) at some point and still, all was fine, just a little nagging need for RAM. What happened was what always happens, we need more storage and we need more RAM. Yet it was not the only thing that was an issue. You see, this model would not support Kit Kat (4.4) and now we had ourselves a horse race because we saw more and more news regarding security flaws and the essential need to have android as updated as possible. Now we get to the issue with the quote: “sometimes years after Google releases new versions“, which is not that correct. You see, the makers of phones did not consider upgrades to the OS, for the mere reason that they prefer to sell a new phone instead of upgrading your old phone, when the phone is deep within warranty it is one thing, however after that passes, the seller tends to not care and getting the new system vetted and fitted requires resources and a serious amount of them. So Motorola came with a notice that it would not be possible to update this model beyond KitKat. Now, because it was a cheap deal and I had actually not considered that updating the Android OS would be a biggie, I ignored it, and it was just one of those few lessons you tend to learn the hard way the first time around. You see, I am an Android user for a reason. As Apple advocated a device that can do a million things, and it can call people, the Android was the opposite. It was a phone that could do a lot of additional things. With Android the phone remained the centre, not the apps (as I personally saw it). The issue is more than semantics, I felt it was a state of mind, which is why I prefer Android (whilst not hating the iPhone).

Now with my feelings regarding safety and security, I believe that it is very important never to be more than 2 versions old, so as I am on Lollipop, it is essential for me to get a new phone capable of Nougat. Those on Marshmallow should decide for themselves if they want to wait another version before getting a new phone. In light that the average functional phone is over $600, that rule becomes a lot more important, also knowing that you are buying something that will need essential replacement after 2 years makes it even more important to find the right device and especially at the right price. This is why I have been hammering on systems with 64GB storage and at least 2GB RAM (3GB preferred). The fact that the makers are withholding these devices, whilst they are available, angers me. This is because the Telecom companies love a consumer forced to upgrade on an annual basis. What they fail to realise that our budgets are not as wide as their need for coke and hookers (if we believe the NY marketing needs, so the entire greed philosophy falls away. So when I go to the shops now, I expect a Nougat device, or a Marshmallow version at high discount. When a shop offers a Sony with a 2 year old operating system at $900 (Lollipop, aka Android v5), they have obviously lost their minds! Now this is the part that matters in the case of Sony. They call it ‘The pioneering 4K smartphone‘, as well as ‘Sony’s next-generation camera technologies in collaboration with Sony’s Alpha engineers‘ and then they promote it, whilst not updating the phone with an operating system that is less than a year old? And only this month, will they come with a previous version of Android (Marshmallow, aka Android v6). Now, this falls in line with the quote from the Guardian, the issue I have is that if they had their ducks in a row, the phone would have been in the shops with Marshmallow (v6), with the option to update to Nougat (v7).

It is my suspicion that the service oriented devices have not caught onto the need to have a more generic framework oriented approach. I touched on it in my article ‘Chicks for free‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/03/31/chicks-for-free/), where I touches on SaaS in March 2015, as well as the advantage Huawei gave to its customers by being competitive in price and hardware. They had cornered a nice chunk of market in just one year. Parts of all this were also discussed in January 2015 (https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/01/15/exploiting-mobile-users/). So the issue has been around long enough for the market to adjust, they just decided not to do that. So for Google to come with the Google Pixel (XL) makes perfect sense. Although, from my point of view, $1400 for a device that might initially not last beyond 2 years is still a hard pill to swallow. Apart from the retired groups who are out of cash and comprehension of the technology, we are now facing a growing group of people where the risk of malware exposure goes up tenfold. So the precedence to slam the mobile market is very appealing.

I do not believe that Google is the bad guy here, I believe that our comprehension of accepted support is changing. Let’s take the new Pixel. For one, the marketing was perfectly done and so far from cheap Telco page to Forbes, they are all wildly enthusiastic. A fair point of view, especially as I (from my needy point of view) found just one flaw. Now, there is a side that is not yet known, however, if Google delivers on the statement ‘Two years of OS upgrade from launch‘ as stated, meaning that your Google Pixel will support the installation of Android v9 (whatever that candy name will be, I vote for ‘Liquorice’), then the Pixel will be a steal at twice the price. Meaning that your $1400 should last you 3-4 years, twice the current expected lifespan, easily making it the only choice as an Android phone.

I have an even bigger issue with the quote “Francisco Jeronimo, market research firm IDC’s research director for European mobile devices, says: “Many people care about updates. They recognise that getting the latest update is about getting something better, unless they’ve got an old phone. But it’s about how easy it is to do. Going online and finding an update is something most will not do. If you present it as a notification, as Apple does, then most will jump on board.”“, in this I state that it is my personal believe that Francisco Jeronimo didn’t give the right ambiance to this spin. I have presented evidence that this issue has been known and was visible for the better part of 3 years. Old phone or not, the issue has been limitation of hardware and now that the players realise that the gig is up, they are likely to go into some form of blame mode, whilst their own approach should have changed years ago. The fact that brands like Oppo and Sony are selling what they call state of the art today with a 2 year old OS is just as big a joke, especially if it doesn’t come with the clear notice that an upgrade is available. If I need to give it a name, I would call it the annual update Telco requirement is pushing back and most people are willing to switch providers on a moment’s notice if needed. So Google went Fruity, looked at Apple (it has its own model of OS) and from that point of view, the power of a dedicated mobile became apparent. So now we see that for a mere $150 extra, we get a phone that is not 32GB, but 128GB. So only the dedicated silly would not get that, mainly because logic suggests that Android v8 and Android v9 will all be larger than the previous versions, as could logically be deduced. So not getting storage constraints over the next 3 years makes perfect sense, even if you have a minimal amount of apps. In this case it is not the 10 apps I have now, it is the notion that over the next 3 years I might get another 10-20 apps, as well as a few thousand pictures and knowing that storage will not be an issue, that peace of mind is very important, the moment you get hit by the limitation, it will make sense.

So as Google is challenging that fruity named competitor Apple, it needs to adjust its own model a little bit too. You see, there is a reason why corporate clients still rely on Blackberry. It is the one market Apple has not been able to penetrate, once Android does that, if will be able to shift its interests to another field of data gathering (I mean client instigated data gathering) and data encryption interactions, fields that Apple was not able to surpass Blackberry in, Google has a fair chance at changing that field, with Google now entering layer 1, they have a complete layer coverage allowing to take on the industrial strength enterprise security that Blackberry is famous for, which would give Android the push into the areas where critical security issues are the number one need.

The reality is that this would take at least one additional android upgrade before they enter that field, which have giving Apple the time, but not the engineering skills or the architecture to compete with Blackberry on that level. With this I imply that Apple by keeping to its consumer market views, it ignored a corporate side, or so has create the potential to rule the market, whether it will depends on what they do next, but they have been off to a great start.

The final quote is one that the article has dealt with already “Jeronimo says: “With the Nexus, Google attempted to bring the best device running the latest version of Android, but couldn’t give priority to one of the tier two manufacturers that were interested in making it when you have companies like Samsung and Huawei leading the market. It meant Google struggled to differentiate with its own device when its partners were already making very good devices that were good value.”“, it still requires a little extra and the element that is kept silent is the one I dealt with in ‘The smokescreen of a Smartphone War‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/09/30/the-smokescreen-of-a-smartphone-war/), you see, making a version and then making it not an option in Australia reeks. It reeks of Telco managed collaboration, the article stipulates why I feel that way. Now that Google blows storage apart with 128GB for $150 should show those two brands and a few others too, the stupidity of their actions. Huawei had an advantage by offering the 64GB, now that is a no no, it seems that Google can make a massive change, what was once a 0.2% market has the potential to become a 10% market in the next 12 months, which would be a growth that is unheard of. A market Huawei decided not to engage and now Google has voiced it will offer options that I would have considered overkill and not essential. Google seems realise that it does not matter whether the person prefers 64GB or 128GB, by offering them 128GB at a 64GB price is a winner in everyone’s books and it shows the consumer that 32GB might be good for nana and grandpa, the rest should just go big at the additional requested fraction more. In that regard the entire model race with two price additions, one for size of screen and one for size of storage is in my view brilliant (I will give credit that Apple had this approach already).

Which leaves us with the last speculation, no matter how we see 2016, with the changes of 2017 we see that Google is entering a new innovative phase of connectivity. Android devices like Google Home, might seem like a party trick, but the reality of Android devices and the option to connect them is more than a fab, the world presentation blew me away and where it matters, your Pixel could become the hub in all this, music on that little boom box, whilst streaming the pics to your TV. For the mere giggles in me, the device (an entertainment unit), which Microsoft promised the Xbox One to be and not delivered. Google now presents and delivers an actual entertainment system whilst not promising it. It is just too funny for words.

So whatever path you take, whether IOS or Android, just make sure it delivers long term what you need, if you do that, you will remain happy with whatever choice you make and that is what truly matters in my humble opinion.

 

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