Will WP7 force Google to get its act together over Android?

Will WP7 force Google to get its act together over Android?

Summary: If analyst predictions are to be believed, Android is set to have a good 12 months. But the OS is far from being a perfect mobile platform, especially where the average consumer is concerned. Will Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7 platform help Google focus on making Android better?

TOPICS: Android, Google

If analyst predictions are to be believed, Android is set to have a good 12 months. But the OS is far from being a perfect mobile platform, especially where the average consumer is concerned. Will Microsoft's new Windows Phone 7 platform help Google focus on making Android better?

So, what's the problem with Android? Well, Brian X. Chen says it all really:

By contrast, Google doesn't subject manufacturers to similar testing criteria. And we're seeing the consequences: Some touchscreens work better than others, some apps don't work on one version of Android while they do on another, and some manufacturers are even cramming bloatware onto Android devices.

Most importantly, a consistent user experience will help customers understand what they're getting when they're shopping for a Windows phone.

The OS is going to be the same with identical features on every handset, so as a consumer, your decision-making will boil down to the hardware's look, weight and size. Compare that to the experience of buying an Android phone, which could be running a different version depending on the handset you buy: Donut, Eclair, Froyo, blueberry pie, Neapolitan or whatever Google chooses to call it eventually. You won't have to ask yourself, "Am I going to get X on this phone or do I have to get another one?" because they're all running the same OS with a few variations in hardware.

See, the problem with Android is that it betrays its Linux heritage. An aggressive development cycle, combined with the open source nature of the platform has resulted in a confusing hellstew of hardware and OSes. Geeks like nothing better than to tinker and play with stuff and tweak. The idea of different OS versions gets them excited. But geeks don't land themselves with a dud purchase because they've done all the research in advance, and a new handset running an old OS is just a challenge for them. For geeks, that kind of thing is fun.

But consumers don't think like this. In fact, most consumers don't really think at all. Apple took the decision making process out of buying and gave users a small, specific choice selection. Microsoft is trying to make all WP7 handsets operate in much the same way, again, so consumers don't have to think. That leaves Android as the thinking person's OS. Does that leave the platform vulnerable?

Question is, can Google wrestle any control over hardware and crapware loaded into the OS away from OEMs? Or is Android destined to become more confused and messier? Are OEMs and carriers abusing the open source nature of Android? Does it matter?

Topics: Android, Google

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  • Insulting and condescending

    Consumers most certainly do think. And their conclusion is that they have better things to do with their time than play wet nurse to a phone.
    • Which could be why a great many opted to use something else

      other then the iPhone?
      John Zern
      • RE: Will WP7 force Google to get its act together over Android?

        @John Zern I'm sorry, what? Are you saying you have to wet nurse an iphone? Examples?
      • See John? You already riled up CrAppleholics & Got Flagged!

        @John Zern haha.... I like my Android phone Samsung Galaxy Epic and think it's the best phone I've ever owned. Just not thrilled about Sprint, except their Unlimited plans really can't be beat. Although I love Android OS, I'm a diehard gamer and that is what's going to make or break WP7's chances of winning over phone converts from all other competition combined.<br><br>If Microsoft can win over game developers of PC Desktop Games, to also make games to run on these new high powered WP7 mobile devices, then no competition can touch them. Gamers hold the key and for that reason for their future. I will take a good close look at WP7 with an eye to the future for this reason alone. If they don't cripple WP7 like CrApple did to iOS and iPhones (locking them up completely from having any user say so in how, what, where and when you can run the applications), then Microsoft stands a good chance of getting me back as a customer in the future!<br><br>Because without the best games running on these high powered devices, what good is all that graphics power anyway? What to watch videos, look at pictures or read books? haha.... I don't think so. Microsoft is bringing a revolution in mobile gaming that it has totally owned on the Desktop and still does. If CrApple and Google Android can't get the Best High Quality games on their platforms, then they are both dead..... with quantity over quality only! .....that will never do for hard core gamers ever!!!<br><br>For that reason CrApple can keep their 2million flavors of Bejeweled and I'll take fewer top quality games even if I have to pay more for them!!! .....and the same for Android and it's oh so few top quality games that may never test the superior graphics hardware on my Samsung Epic over CrApple's iPwnd4!
      • RE: Will WP7 force Google to get its act together over Android?

        @i2fun The big problem with your argument here is the same flaw that zealots on either side of any given debate never seem to grasp, what works for your or is the great feature for you is not the same for everyone. Based on what you said gamers are going to decide what platform with succeed in the smart phone market, that's pretty laughable. Sure, there are a lot of gamers out there and they may very well flock to the OS which provides the best quality games but I can guarantee you this does not apply to the majority of people that are buying smart phones. You, and all the other zealots on each side of these debates, need to wake up a realize that what you want/need isn't the top or even a priority at all for others.
    • RE: Will WP7 force Google to get its act together over Android?

      @frgough To a point your correct...to a point. You put too many options out there - which is what Adrian is referring to I guess - and the consumer will skip it. I have seen that time and time again with my own family. Patience levels are low, very low and having to decide with too big a mental matrix and you will lose the consumer.
      • Which is why I think the premise of the article is wrong...

        @ItsTheBottomLine I think you're correct -- and what is missing is WHY people buy a new phone in the first place. I think for most folks reading this article (and the accompanying comments) it's normal to have high expectations about future releases.

        On the other hand, most phone buyers aren't reading this article, so they're not adding all the OS and hardware overlay mutations and potential future updates into a decision matrix. They're buying the phone because the one they picked up in the store meets their expectations *today*.

        Not to mention (for the same reason the iPhone doesn't have an easily replaceable battery), a phone's usable life is relatively short -- compared to a laptop for instance. Two years is pretty extraordinary for most smart phone buyers. One year is not terribly uncommon.

        When the phone stops meeting your needs, you tend to start shopping for a new one. And you look forward to the upgrade experience, again, on the *day* you buy the phone. Most people simply are not looking to upgrade their phone today with the anticipation that they are going to get a super-cool software update next quarter.

        For me, I had a Samsung Ace, which was a great phone when I bought it (for a great price near the end of it's product life cycle). I kept it for 18 months, and was ready to trade up.

        I now have a Samsung Epic 4G that absolutely blows the socks off the Ace (which was running WinMo 6.1). Am I terribly concerned about the debate over WiMax and LTE? No. Do I want the phone to continuously improve itself? Well, that wasn't one of the purchasing factors, but it would be a plus if it did.

        Frankly, by the time some of the 4G questions shake out, I'll be ready for another phone -- and probably still on the same Dell laptop. The only complaint I have with the phone *today* is I can't get voice dialing over bluetooth. Of course, it's promised in a future update that should be coming out "any time." Froyo.

        But again, that wasn't part of the purchasing decision, and if it doesn't happen ever with this phone, I still have a much better phone than I did when I traded up from the Ace -- which did have bluetooth voice dialing.

        So, back to the original question:

        Will WP7 force Google to get its act together over Android?

        The answer is simple. It depends on whether WP7 gets real traction in the marketplace, and a lot of people start buying it. If they do (and that may be a pretty big IF, based on Microsoft's history in the category), it will negatively impact Google market share, and if they aren't stupid (and I don't think they are), then they'll adjust their strategy to the market. Or, they'll fail -- or they'll land somewhere in between.

        But as long as manufacturers continue to push Android phones into the market, and those phones are purchased in solid volumes, Android will be a success. Regardless of what update or other did or didn't get delivered when someone said it would.
    • RE: Will WP7 force Google to get its act together over Android?


      The lack of thought taken by the consumer is evident in the fact that the overwhelming majority of them finance their smartphone purchase through the carrier over a two year contract at a 50% interest rate.
  • Fragmentation

    The real problem with Android is the reliance on the manufacturer and service provider to deliver timely OS updates. Apple and now Microsoft have taken over that responsibility, which is a good thing. <br><br>Personally, just about a year ago I purchased the Motorola CLIQ with Android 1.5 (which was released in April 2009) and was told by T-mobile I'd be getting my 1.6 update "soon". In January of 2010 v2.1 was released and a month or so later Motorola announced the CLIQ would be getting the v2.1 update. As of today no OS update has been released for the CLIQ, the v1.6 update was scrapped for v2.1 which now is suppose to be released "very soon".<br><br>I love my Android, but my CLIQ experience has left a bad taste in my mouth meaning as soon as I can I'll be jumping to the WP7 or the iPhone 4 (if T-mobile gets it).
    • RE: Will WP7 force Google to get its act together over Android?

      @ccrockett@... Ironically, Android is falling into the trap that plagued Windows Mobile - it's up to the handset manufacturer and carrier to build, test, customize, deploy and maintain their handset's OS and apps.

      Alas, neither the handset manufacturers or carriers have proven their ability to do this well in the long-term.

      Further, if carriers and handset manufacturers can earn a few bucks by preloading third party software, then they will.

      I look forward to seeing what happens to these markets once another well funded, determined competitor enters the frey.
      • That's why . . .


        I went back to a feature phone until the Smartphone market shakes itself out, along with the pricing. For what I use them for, I can stand carrying two devices, my Samsung Solstice and my iPod touch.
      • RE: Will WP7 force Google to get its act together over Android?


        Good luck with that. Virgin recently ate Helio which was in turn eaten by Sprint. The giants are only consolidating further. The big four cellular look like the big five in music. If that turns out to be the case, Wimax, wifi, and Skype are our only hope in the same way that the internet allowed the music INDUSTRY(artists) to bypass the music MIDDLEMEN.
    • RE: Will WP7 force Google to get its act together over Android?


      Your reasoning sounds more like a good cause for dropping T-Mobile and Motorola. You should have held out for the Nexus.
    • RE: Will WP7 force Google to get its act together over Android?


      Head over to androidforums.com and find the section on your phone. Do a little reading, root your phone, and put an up to date OS on there.

      That's the beauty of the current android. You don't need to wait for updates to improve your phone. There are plenty of helpful "geeks" out there ready to help us non geeks get the most out of our devices.
  • All these confusing opinions!

    • Yeah! I'd like to just have one...

      So I don't have to think (about which one is right)!
    • Look around. You're in geekville.

      @kd5auq And very few geeks understand "normal" technology consumers. But Apple does. This is why Apple is so successful even though this success galls so many geeks...who still lament the demise of the command line interface of yore.

      All any "normal" consumer needs to do now is make sure they get good cell reception from their chosen carrier AND are able to learn and use all the features of their smart phone in ten minutes or less. Being able to remember what they've learned an hour later is also crucial to us "normals."
      • RE: Will WP7 force Google to get its act together over Android?

        @godsfault Funny think is that I know a number of geeks that spend 50 hours plus a week coding and prefer command line but they all have iPhones. Why, when they are not working they want to just enjoy what they use, not constantly have to tweak it. To each their own.
  • Love Android, Hate Fragmentation

    I too bought a Cliq, two days before it was released to the public due to being a T-Mo customer already. I loved my phone for a month - until news of Android 2.0 came out along with Moto Droid. Ever since I have regretted my purchase. A year later and it is still officially on 1.5 - though I have the "official leaked" 2.1 ROM since I finally took the plunge and rooted. That puts me in the "geek" category. Still, saying I'm unhappy would be an understatement.

    I love Android but this has been a horrible experience. Custom UI's and carrier-tinkering with Android are the #1 reasons for delayed updates. Google's lightning fast pace of updating Android is meaningless when yet-to-release phones are being announced with Android 2.1!

    The only way I would buy an Android phone again would be if there is a top-end phone that suits my taste AND if it has vanilla Android. Unfortunately, phones with vanilla Android are rare so chances of finding a phone to my liking (hardware wise) and without customized Android are slim. I am not going to invest $200+ on a phone and be stuck with it for 2 years when its running obsolete software within months of purchase. And why should I (or anyone) have to bother with rooting and relying on individual devs for staying up to date? At least with the iPhone or WP7 I'd know what I'm getting into. My T-Mo contract ends this month but I am going to hold off until holidays/2011 to see what Gingerbread brings. The feature I'm most looking forward to is the death of custom UI's and bloatware...if not there's always iPhone 4 and now WP7.
    • The G2

      It is the fastest phone out there today (barring the un-released Windows 7 phones) and is about as stock Android as you can get. There are some un-deletable apps (don't know if you can hide them), but is about as stock as they come.
      [I]The first thing you should know about software on the G2 is that it's basically stock Froyo
      The G2 is not just an awesome Android phone, it's an awesome phone, period. It's clear that HTC has taken its years of experience with devices in this form factor and applied that knowledge to this device. From a hardware perspective, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more attractive, elegant, or capable landscape QWERTY phone, and as far as software is concerned, T-Mobile seems to be doing its best to offer Android in an untainted form.[/I]

      Oh, and the speakerphone sucks. :D


      P.S. I am in exactly the same boat, probably have a G2 on Nov 6 but want to try a Windows phone IF it supports USB mode for multimedia.