Android News from Google I/O

Android Expo @ Google I/O 11 - image via flickr user chris.chabot

Last week Google hosted it’s annual developer conference, Google I/O, in San Francisco. They had plenty of interesting announcements and data points:

  • 400,000 new Android devices are being activated each day
  • 4.5 billion apps have been downloaded from the Android Marketplace
  • Gingerbread and Honeycomb users download twice as many apps as users of previous versions
  • Honeycomb 3.1 announced, offering some improvements over 3.0:
    • scrollable recent app list
    • resizable widgets
    • USB support
    • Accessory API
    • Persist wi-fi connections when display is off
  • Next Android update due later this year, Ice Cream Sandwich, will bring phone and tablet OSes together
  • Music Beta – play your music collection from the cloud
  • Google Movies – rent movies from the cloud (ala Netflix / Amazon / Apple)
  • Speaking of Netflix, it’s now available on (some) Android devices
GigaOm >

Google Teams with Carriers to Address Android Fragmentation

Google announced a partnership with the Open Handset Alliance to tackle the problem of Android fragmentation. They’ve struck a deal with major carriers and handset makers including Samsung, LG, Verizon, and T-Mobile to ensure that devices will continue to receive OS updates for at least 18 months after they are released. Interesting that they settled on 18 months and not 24 months, the length of a standard contract. Gee, I wonder why? >

Twitter Releases Mobile Web App – Looks Like iOS Upsidedown

On Wednesday Twitter announced the release of their new mobile Web version of Twitter, optimized for smartphones. It certainly looks great and is yet another example of the move toward more mobile Web solutions from the major players in the space. The new version is being rolled out slowly to customers on iPhone, iPod Touch and Android. From the Twitter blog:

The app is fast – you can quickly scroll through your timeline, move between tabs and compose Tweets. It’s rich – it takes advantage of capabilities that high-end device browsers offer, such as touch gestures and a large screen. And it’s simple – it’s easy-to-use and has the features you’d expect from a Twitter application, including your timeline, @mentions, messages that you can read in conversation view, search, trending topics, lists, and more.

Twitter Blog >

Android Market – Lots of Downloads, Little Profit

The BBC News article Is ‘open’ killing the Android? points out that while the Android Market and Android itself is seeing tremendous growth, the Android Market is generating less revenue than Apple’s App Store and even Blackberry App World and Nokia’s Ovi store. Developers are having a harder time making money on apps thanks to issues like quality control and the challenge of discovering apps in the Android Market. Because of Android’s open nature, we’re starting to see other companies create app stores for Android including Amazon who is also reportedly releasing a tablet later this year.

Apple’s Profitability Helps Them Block Competitors

Apple Store, Burlingame - image via flickr user ping ping

A CNN Money article explains how Apple’s incredible profitability helps them dominate the supply chain and keep competitors from, well, competing as effectively as they might otherwise. Some of the reasons cited by the article:

  • Apple uses it’s cash and it’s size to get the best deals out of suppliers
  • In times of shortage, the biggest buyers are supplied first
  • Apple has a relatively small number of product that share many common components