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Google TV: It's the Platform, Stupid

Why Next-Gen Set-Top Boxes Might Succeed
Submitted by Mark Murphy on Wed, 05/26/10 - 12:45pm.

Back in the dawn of time — sometimes referred to as “1996” — WebTV was launched as one of the first serious attempts to bridge the gap between TV and the Internet. A year later, Microsoft acquired it. A decade-and-change later, few remember it.

WebTV certainly wasn't the last firm to try to combine the two experiences, and Microsoft wasn't the only big name to give it a go. Apple, for example, offers their Apple TV, to lackluster results. Firms like Western Digital offer devices that allow Internet streaming. However, few have had much impact. Perhaps the biggest category to have some amount of TV/Internet bridging is the game console market, where online components have been rather successful.

Will Google TV suffer the same fate as WebTV? Perhaps not.

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One Mighty Big Cup o' Froyo

Highlights of Android 2.2
Submitted by Mark Murphy on Thu, 05/20/10 - 2:27pm.

Google put out many a hint earlier this year that they were going to cut back to two Android releases per year, versus the eight they shipped in 16 months previously.

If today's Google I|O keynote is indicative of the scope of Android advancement per release, those will be very large releases.

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Nexus One: Success or Failure?

A Contrarian View on the Results from the "Google Phone"
Submitted by Mark Murphy on Wed, 05/12/10 - 8:55am.

Recently, Sprint declined to support the Nexus One Android phone. This comes on the heels of Verizon making a similar move earlier this year. In each case, the Nexus One is ostensibly being replaced by other HTC-manufactured Android handsets — the Evo 4G and Incredible, respectively.

This, coupled with reportedly lackluster sales of the device, have led some to declare that the Nexus One is a failure. Certainly, by conventional measures of success, it is hard to dispute this argument.

However, Google is an unconventional company, and Android is an unconventional initiative. Measuring the Nexus One by conventional measures, therefore, may miss the point of what Google was trying to achieve.

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Android and the CafePress Model

White-Label Custom Android Devices, Shipped To Your Door
Submitted by Mark Murphy on Fri, 05/07/10 - 1:27pm.

The really cool thing about open source mobile operating systems, like Android and Symbian, is that they open up so many possible business models for people to try. I have written about these from time to time, and here is another one for you to chew on.

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Android in 2013: Open Source

Having a Green Vision of Android's Future
Submitted by Mark Murphy on Thu, 04/29/10 - 9:08am.

This post wraps up the Android in 2013 series, covering where Android's possible future. This last segment focuses on open source, the spark of much interest at Android's public outset and the cause of much angst in the years since.

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Android in 2013: Ecosystem

Reading a Green Palm to See Android's Future
Submitted by Mark Murphy on Tue, 04/27/10 - 11:07am.

This is part five in a continuing overview of where Android may wind up in 2013. Previous posts in the series examined the smartphone segment, other devices, OS capabilities, and applications.

Today, we'll look at the broader Android ecosystem and make some predictions of what is in store for the lil' green guy.

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Android in 2013: Applications

Feeling the Bumps on Android's Head to See Its Future
Submitted by Mark Murphy on Thu, 04/22/10 - 10:48am.

The “Android in 2013” blog post series has looked at Android proper to date: on smartphones, on other devices, and the OS itself. Today, let's prognosticate on what may well happen in the world of Android applications.

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Android in 2013: Capabilities

Reading the Green Tarot Cards to See Android's Future
Submitted by Mark Murphy on Tue, 04/20/10 - 8:47am.

Two weeks ago, I began the “Android in 2013” series, projecting where Android will be a few years' out. The two initial posts were focused on Android hardware, first smartphones, then everything other than smartphones.

Today, let's lay out the cards and take a look at what the operating system itself will look like in 2013.

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Android in 2013: Beyond Smartphones

Reading the Green Tea Leaves to See Android's Future
Submitted by Mark Murphy on Wed, 04/14/10 - 1:41pm.

Last week, I began the “Android in 2013” series, projecting where Android will be a few years' out. That initial post focused on what people usually think of with respect to Android: smartphones.

However, the little green guy is already being used beyond smartphones, and there is no indication that this will change during the next few years. Let's take a look at some other segments and see where Android may wind up.

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Android in 2013: Smartphones

Peering into a Green Crystal Ball to See Android's Future
Submitted by Mark Murphy on Wed, 04/07/10 - 10:12am.

Enorium asked me to deliver a presentation on “Android in 2013” as part of an Android seminar. This is the first in a series of blog posts that will walk through the topics I intend to touch upon in that presentation.

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Android: The Scratch-Resistant OS

Why OSS and Hardware Release Cycles Impede Contributions
Submitted by Mark Murphy on Tue, 03/30/10 - 9:30am.

The Symbian Foundation keeps kicking off developer-focused initiatives. One of the more recent is the Symbian Bug Squad, an attempt to convince developers to help test and fix bugs in the Symbian platform via structured events. For example, just yesterday, they held a “test day” focused on the Homescreen app.

The comments to the blog post about the Bug Squad highlighted some problems that Symbian has that will also affect Android and Meego, to varying extents. Specifically, while open source is designed to allow developers to “scratch their own itch”, the nature of mobile devices make that much more difficult, at least for production.

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Android in Court

Dealing with Legal Attacks on Your Android App
Submitted by Mark Murphy on Tue, 03/23/10 - 8:55am.

While everyone focuses on the patent infringement suit Apple filed against HTC, there are many smaller skirmishes happening in all of software development, and the Android ecosystem is far from immune.

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Flipping Back in Time

AT&T, the Backflip, and Carrier Control of Android
Submitted by Mark Murphy on Wed, 03/17/10 - 11:56am.

As has been covered extensively online, AT&T's edition of the Motorola Backflip has disabled the ability to install third-party applications except via the Android Market.

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The Nexus of the Enterprise

Why Flashable Devices Are Android's Path to Business
Submitted by Mark Murphy on Thu, 03/04/10 - 9:45am.

I often tell students and consulting customers that enterprises and malware authors have many of the same interests. They both want to control phones, irrespective of the wishes of the users of those phones. Malware authors do this with ill intent. Enterprises have their reasons, as well, as varied as the businesses themselves.

Off-the-shelf Android, though, is more of a consumer operating system. The OS goes to great lengths to allow users to maintain control over their devices, from being able to stop background processes to ensuring the HOME button cannot be blocked. Many things that Android does to block malware, though, also block desired enterprise features, such as the ability to lock out users from installing applications, or logging their use of the browser.

Flashable devices represent the crossroads.

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Too Qt for Words

Musings on Meego/Symbian's and Android's UI Toolkits
Submitted by Mark Murphy on Wed, 02/24/10 - 8:41am.

As noted last week, two other open source smartphone platforms are Symbian and Meego, the latter a merger of Intel's Moblin and Nokia's Maemo. What is interesting about that merger is that Meego will be using Nokia's Qt UI toolkit, which also is the direction that Symbian is going. Hence, two of the bigger open competitors to Android will share, in theory, a common way of developing UIs.

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Meego: And Then There Were Three

Moblin+Maemo, Putting Pressure on Android's Openness
Submitted by Mark Murphy on Tue, 02/16/10 - 12:51pm.

Mobile World Congress 2010 is a milestone event. Android's momentum continues, with a range of new devices from stalwarts (HTC, Motorola) and newer entrants (Acer, Huwaei). Microsoft and RIM had major announcements for their respective mobile operating systems, and new options were announced. Some (e.g., Samsung's “bada”) seem...curious, while others, such as MeeGo, are intriguing to me.

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The Insides of an Android

Distributing the Knowledge of Android Device Development
Submitted by Mark Murphy on Wed, 02/10/10 - 9:00am.

Overnight, I received yet another request to deliver training on Android internals: how to create Android devices, work with Android firmware, and the like. While I offer training related to Android, it's only on application development, as kernels and device drivers are not my cup of tea.

I get one of these training requests every month or two. I would love to steer these interested parties towards people offering such training. Clearly, there are some people outside of the Open Handset Alliance who know how to do this sort of thing — witness the ROM modders and homebrew device makers. I haven't found any of them who have decided to “go pro” and start teaching others what they know.

This, however, points to a larger issue with Android: long-term maintenance.

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The Kernel of the Issue -- has Android forked from Linux?

Android's Contributions to Linux...Gone
Submitted by Mark Murphy on Wed, 02/03/10 - 9:40am.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post cajoling Android developers to be more self-reliant, rather than expecting Google to make every conceivable addition to Android and related technologies. The Android community doesn't need Google's help to create a better Market. The Android community doesn't need Google's help to create standardized ad network APIs. And so on.

The reason for self-reliance in places where it's possible is because there are many places where it's not possible, where Google is the only viable answer for getting something done.

Exhibit A: Linux kernel patches.

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Raising a Market

What a Competitor to the Android Market Needs
Submitted by Mark Murphy on Tue, 01/26/10 - 2:16pm.

Some people have taken issue with my calls for developers to employ alternative markets in addition to — or possibly instead of — the Android Market. The prevailing sentiment seems to be “too much work, not enough results”. That is a perfectly rational, if short-term, perspective on the present situation. However, it ignores the impacts that developer choices today will have on available Market competitors in the future.

To examine this, let's think about what a robust direct competitor to the Android Market would need.

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Ask Not What Google Can Do For Developers...

Aiming at Android Community Self-Sufficiency
Submitted by Mark Murphy on Thu, 01/21/10 - 7:09am.

Many people have lots of ideas of things that Google should do with Android. These range from code changes to Market changes to license changes to support changes. Heck, I've had and written about a few of them myself.

However, by and large, I have concluded that making such suggestions is ineffective.

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