September 30, 2014

Hurdles? Already?

Pretty much anyone with an internet capable phone will tell you that accessing the web on a mobile device is nothing like using a PC. Many websites do not view properly or do not display certain items. If the site has frames, you can pretty much count on scrolling through the site for far longer than you care to. Who is to blame? Most of the onus gets put on the network itself and underlying technology. Different carriers using different handsets with different operating systems. Sounds like a problem. If you head over to a c|net article ‘Google Must Woo Mobile App Developers’, you’ll find that some are expecting the problem to worsen.

“Right now, Android just adds to the headache of developing different versions of our applications for different operating systems,” said Kay Johansson, CTO of MobiTV. “It will be just another platform we have to support. I think for the Google platform to really be a game-changer it’s going to have to offer more than just an open-source operating system for a mobile phone. It will have to create mobile Internet devices that happen to make phone calls.”

Is this a knee-jerk reaction? Only time will tell. It’s certainly not a new problem to face though. For years now, application developers have been writing multiple versions of one application to port onto hundreds of handsets. This cost time and money that gets passed on to the carrier, and ultimately, the end user. How will Android and the OHA address this? Will they end up being forced to create their own line of handsets? I believe once the SDK’s are released next week, the industry will get a feel for how easy (or hard) it will be to make the next leap in mobile applications.

There are those who think that Google is the right company with the right expertise to institute the much needed changes. While details of the Android platform haven’t been made public yet, some believe Google will incorporate its advertising technology into handsets. Much like Adsense and AdWords are doing for businesses now, this model could help to subsidize the cost of devices and services, providing incentives for carriers to offer Android phones. Do not be surprised to see other carrier jump on the bandwagon when T-Mobile is rolling out GSM phones at a much lower price than AT&T.

“If a carrier can sell a $5-a-month service for an Android phone, how could another carrier offering its own service for $30 a month compete?” said Iain Gillott, founder of iGillott Research. “They can’t. They’ll be forced to offer Android phones too. The economics are what will ultimately drive adoption,” he said.

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