Categories
Smartphones

Five things Google should do to make “Android” as well-known as “iPhone”

I love Android. The Google-created mobile operating system for smartphones is a breath of fresh air when compared to the polished & regulated iPhone and its iOS. Android devices are selling well, particularly in the U.S., where the iPhone is stuck in an awkward monogamous relationship with AT&T. It has become very clear that the iPhone will break free from AT&T’s shackles within the next year, and when that happens, Verizon and T-Mobile customers will also be clamoring for Apple’s handset.

In Canada, where the iPhone is available on the big three major carriers, the iconic Apple device is simply crushing the competition, and Android appears to be an afterthought for most consumers after deciding on an iPhone or a homegrown BlackBerry.

For Android to stave off a multi-carrier American iPhone assault and to become competition for Apple in Canada and other countries, it has to start taking some steps to make Android more mainstream. There’s no reason they can’t do this without changing their exceptional operating system much. Here’s my suggestions to made “Android” as well-known as “iPhone.”

  • Take control of updates: Google needs to cut carriers out of the update equation. Eric Schmidt recently said that one thing Google has learned about the smartphone business is how much power the carriers have. Google needs to leverage some of its power to take control of updating devices. The fact that a new version of Android, with tons of new features including flash playback, exists but isn’t widely available is tragic.
  • Police the app marketplace, at least a little bit: I’m not asking for Apple-like behaviour here, but rather some common sense principles to guide what is and isn’t acceptable. Custom Nazi themes and games involving upskirt pics shouldn’t even see the light of day in the Marketplace. It’s simply not good enough to have a system that allows this stuff to been seen by kids, even if it’s removed after an uproar.
  • Update responsibly: The fact that I can go out and buy a brand new Android phone today that runs an 18-month-old version of the OS is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. Android should give its OS options firm expiration dates. Once the date is passed, phones can’t be sold without an updated OS. Right now, every single Google phone should be shipping with Android 2.2, period.
  • Reduce the number of models: Up against the most iconic brand in the world (Apple) and the most iconic product in the world (The iPhone), Google needs to take more control over the number of products and how they are named. Here’s an idea: Call all of your smartphones Androids. There’d be an HTC Android, a Samsung Android, a Motorola Android, A Sony-Ericsson Android. No Galaxy S Vibrants, no Desires, no Xperias. One name for all Google phones, with only the manufacturer differentiating models. Keep new models from each maker to a minimum, let’s say one every 6 to 12 months. You’d end up with more focus and branding that can go up against the iPhone marketing machine.
  • Pay off Nokia: While part of me laughs at how clueless Nokia has been since the iPhone launch three years ago, failing to see clear trends and falling behind even the most lethargic of companies, Microsoft, the other part of me still sees a company with a lot of value. Google should do whatever it takes to get Nokia to abandon its current Symbian/Meebo disaster and start churning out millions of Android phones to its loyal fan base, especially in Europe.

Yes, the iPhone is still the best smartphone overall. Apple has a knack at staying ahead of the competition in hardware and software, but if there’s anyone who can take them on right now, it’s Google. What else should Google do with Android? Let me know by posting a comment.

Categories
Smartphones

Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant now just $100 with $75 gift card at Future Shop

What'd I tell you?

If you read my review a couple of weeks back on the Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant, you’ll know that I predicted this. Samsung’s best-in-class Android phone can now be yours for just $25, if you take into account the gift card Future Shop is throwing in upon purchase in one of their stores.

The smartphone is solid and probably your best alternative in Canada if you hate the iPhone. As we all know however, Canadians just love the iPhone 4, so much so that lineups continue across the country, some six weeks after launch. That’s probably why we’re seeing this promotion, as the Galaxy has failed to attract much attention north of the border, where the iPhone is available across the entire Big 3 – Rogers, Bell, & Telus.

Categories
Smartphones

Nokia so desperate for apps, they’ll let anyone make one

I received an email this morning from the people running Nokia’s PR in Montreal about Nokia’s new Ovi App Wizard. Ovi, if you didn’t know, is Nokia’s answer to Apple’s insanely successful App Store. Unfortunately for Nokia, getting developers to make apps for the fragmented mess that is Nokia’s current phone offerings has been unsurprisingly difficult, while competitors like Apple boast upwards 200,000 applications.

The Ovi App Wizard is unfortunately way too little, way too late.

Categories
Social Networking

Google Buzz: One month later

What a difference a month makes. A day after Google Buzz launched, I posted my initial impressions and included a pic that showed the enormous Buzz chatter in Montreal in the hours after its launch. Well today, one month later, I decided to log on and see what the Buzz was downtown:

Hello, anyone?

Pretty dead, as you can see. Once again, it appears that Google’s algorithm-based methodology has let them down, and now they’ve got to figure out a way to turn Buzz into something people will use regularly. My own Google Buzz feed now seems to consist solely of reposts from people’s linked Twitter accounts. Buzz has the potential to be huge in social media. However, it seems as if Google might be stretching themselves too thin here. They have so many products and services, it seems as if every time they launch a new one it sits in neglect for months before changes and tweaks are made. Except for some privacy changes made a few days after Buzz’ launch, Google hasn’t done much with it.

I still like Buzz, but Twitter’s simplicity and head start are keeping it ahead. Twitter has also always had a problem retaining users, with about 60% of people who sign up abandoning the service within a month. I thought Google’s built-in legion of Gmail users might take up Buzz in a big way, but so far, it’s proven to be more of a nuisance for them.

Categories
Smartphones

Motorola Milestone: Full review

The Motorola Droid, and its hard-to-open box. Be careful, one false move and your new phone will pop out and fall on the floor. Luckily, this one landed in my lap.

The Motorola Milestone ($199 on a three-year contract with Telus) is much-needed and welcome competitor in the fight to dethrone the iPhone from its dominant position in Canada’s smartphone wars.

The Milestone is the same phone sold as the Droid south of the border. This naming confusion is symbolic of Motorola’s failure in fighting the iPhone. They are fighting one of the most powerful brands and iconic devices ever, but they make the awful decision to market the Milestone under different names in different markets. It’s a lot harder to build worldwide momentum for your product if you’re trying to sell something called the Droid in the U.S. and the Milestone in Canada and Europe.

Naming issues aside, Motorola has a great product on its hands, mostly thanks to the quickly improving Android OS.

Categories
Smartphones

WordPress for Google Android not that bad, says blogger typing on Motorola Milestone

My Motorola Milestone review unit arrived this afternoon, and I’m putting it through rigorous tests as we speak. Android’s WordPress App is pretty solid, although typing with the keyboard is not fun so far.

I’ll have a full Milestone review (Running on the Telus network) at the end of the week.

Categories
Social Networking

Google Buzz: 24 hours later

The Buzz from Downtown Montreal, just 24 hours after launch.

Google’s new Buzz, its latest foray into the social media sphere has landed on gmail accounts everywhere. Despite launching yesterday at 1pm on a few desktops, Android smartphones (version 2.0 or higher only!) and the iPhone, there seems to be quite a bit of activity by Montreal’s Buzzerati.

My first impressions: Google Buzz, while late to the game, isn’t too late, and I think it will be a hit. While some may feel needing a Gmail account will hamper Buzz, I couldn’t agree more. The fact that so many people already have Gmail means Buzz has an installed user base in the millions. By activating Buzz, Google will automatically suggest Gmail users you know that you can follow. Surprisingly, I found its suggestions to be pertinent and convenient.

The Buzz Web App for iPhone and Android 2.0 phones is impressive, although I have seen some bugginess on Apple’s iconic device when trying to view maps. That aside, being able to localize Buzz is impressive since so many people are using the service already. Doing the same thing with Tweetie on the iPhone can be a big letdown when you see so few people around you tweeting.

I don’t see this as competition for Facebook just yet, but I think the folks at Twitter should be quaking in their Levi’s right about now. Google infrastructure and security is simply too strong to be hampered by the “Fail Whale” and spam that has continued to hurt Twitter.

Categories
Internet Browsers

Google Chrome browser now available for Mac, says blogger posting blog while using Google Chrome for Mac

The wait is over, and as Leon from Curb Your Enthusiasm would say, Google has brought a ruckus to the Mac browser game.

So far (As I just installed) setup was smooth, Chrome imported everything from Safari without any hassle. Oh, it seems snappier! I may be crazy, but fellow Google property YouTube seems blazing fast. WordPress on the other hand, seems a little wonkier when I try to save a draft or preview a post.

Find out for yourself here: http://www.google.com/chrome

Categories
Internet Browsers

Google launches stealth attack on dumb web users

Translation: What Browser, dumbass?
Translation: What Browser, dumbass?

Google has launched www.whatbrowser.org, a thinly-veiled attempt to get people to figure out that Internet Explorer completely sucks, and use another browser like Chrome, Safari, or Firefox. I fully applaud this effort, as its amazing how many people simply don’t know how important a good web browser is. Millions of hours are wasted thanks to the slow-loading times of bad browsers.

Video (for your folks and grandparents) after the break.