One of my favourite web forums happens to be redflagdeals.com, where bargain hunters unite and share where to get the best price on everything. One poster has put together a pretty thorough list of every tablet on sale in Canada, from popular ones like the iPad 2 to lesser known ones like all the others.
It’s an interesting resource. With the selling-like-hotcakes iPad standing pat at $519 in Canada, it’s interesting to see how low other manufacturers will go to undercut Apple’s tablet. Also, look for the HP TouchPad to drop in price further very soon, from $449 to $399 for the 16GB model, as HP has made last weekend’s sale pricing in the U.S. permanent.
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.
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.
If you’ve frequented this blog, then you probably saw my review of the Samsung Omnia II, perhaps the worst phone I’ve ever used and a great example of the failings of Windows Mobile 6.5.
Luckily for Samsung, they’ve jumped on the Android bandwagon, a superior mobile OS offering from Google that is serious competition for the iPhone. The Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant(Bell, $149 on a three-year contract) is a perfect marriage of Google’s OS with some very good hardware.
On the other side of this Canadian smartphone battle is the iPhone 4(Rogers, Fido, Bell, Virgin Mobile, & Telus, $159 for 16GB and 269 for $32GB on a three-year contract). Avoiding the iPhone isn’t easy in Canada, thanks to the fact that it’s available on all of our major carriers, and none of them suck as much as AT&T in the U.S. The iPhone’s penetration in the Canadian market, both carrier and consumer-wise, make it hard to argue against.
Is the Galaxy better than an iPhone? Over two weeks, I tried to find out.
About a month ago, I was channel surfing, which for me consists of going between CBC, NBC, FOX, CW and PBS – the channels I get in HD over the air from the states, when I stumbled on David Letterman introducing M.I.A. and her performance of “Born Free.” The performance, which you can see embedded below, was perhaps the most outrageous performance I’ve ever seen on network TV. I can distinctly remember saying to myself “What the f*** was that?” when it was over. For those of you who don’t watch Letterman, you’re probably unaware that the show’s musical guests are varied & generally awesome. When I go on YouTube, it’s usually to look at one of two things: Videos of the Montreal Expos, or Late Show with David Letterman musical performances.
So a couple of nights ago, surfing YouTube via the site’s excellent mobile web app, I decided to re-watch that month-old M.I.A. performance, primarily because Letterman’s reaction at the end is priceless. And as I re-watched the video, I heard it in my headphones. Exactly what I was thinking one month ago. At about 4:15 of the video, a man in the audience yells out “WHAT THE F*** WAS THAT?”
It’s clearly audible, just pay attention as Letterman walks out to M.I.A.:
If you made it through the entire video without skipping to 4:15, I commend you. Actually, after the third time, the song does grow on you!
For some reason, that video pretty much sums up Summer 2010. I spent it teaching at Concordia, doing the weekly segment on CTV, working on my tennis game and trying to enjoy the great weather. The iPhone 4 has come, and I have bought it. As the summer winds down, the blog will start back up. I’m posting this to get back in the swing of things.
What’s on the agenda for the blog? Well, along with the iPhone 4, I currently have in my possession Canada’s best Android phone, the Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant. Next week, I’ll post a head-to-head battle between the best of the best, iPhone & Android.
Where oh where do I begin? I’ve been wondering if I should let you know what I think of the Samsung Omnia II right off the bat or if I should slowly build my case over the course of this post. Since I can’t make up my mind, I’ll do both. In short, it is a very bad phone. Here’s why.