What mobile tech companies are doing right

What mobile tech companies are doing right

Summary: The mobile technology space is highly competitive which keeps companies hopping trying to come up with the best way forward. It's easy to be critical of most companies given their often confusing offerings, but for a refreshing change here are the things the big guys are doing right.

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It must be nerve-wracking to be an exec at a mobile tech company these days. Many days it must seem like you can't do anything right with the press and pundits over-analyzing every little thing you do. 

To be fair we should give credit where credit is due, so here's what the major players in mobile tech are getting right. These four companies don't always follow the expected path, but here's what they are doing that I like.

Microsoft

OK Surface

While the schizophrenic nature of Windows 8 is hard for analysts to fully grasp, once Microsoft decided to make the next Windows handle every device type at least it didn't do it halfway.

The touch-centric OS will power tablets, desktops, handhelds and notebooks. Many, myself include, are expressing doubt about this course of action, but to Microsoft's credit having chosen that path it is going all-in with it.

The risk is that Windows 8, in trying to be a one-OS-fits-all platform, may suffer the fate of most jack-of-all-trades and not excel at any one of them. Microsoft has the talent and resources to avoid that if possible and at least it is being firm in the course it has laid.

Windows 8 could be the biggest thing Microsoft has ever produced and while it is a big gamble, shaking up the way things work may have the biggest impact on mobile tech since the iPhone.

Spurring OEMs by producing its own Surface tablets is a brilliant move by Microsoft. The OEMs have coasted on Microsoft's OS far too long, and thrown Window's reputation under the bus along the way. It's time OEMs learn they need to compete properly even if the competition is Microsoft itself.

Could a line of Surface Windows Phones be in the works? It couldn't hurt to control the whole product.

Google

OK Nexus

Google has impacted the mobile space more than any company with the success of Android. The smartphone OS released with a Wild West atmosphere has seen the platform grow huge and quickly.

That doesn't mean Google can sit around though, and taking control of its own destiny with the Nexus 7 tablet is what the platform needed. Android tablets haven't set the world on fire and taking the reins lets Google shake up the OEMs to stimulate innovation.

Don't be surprised if Google takes the Nexus 7 approach back to the smartphone sector to have the same effect. While previous Nexus phones have been available for some time, maybe we'll see Google get serious about phones. Perhaps a $99 Google phone might be in the future to get OEMs moving in the right direction.

It's not clear how Google will leverage Motorola Mobility in the long term. Perhaps we may see Google take its platform firmly in hand and produce its own products totally in house.

RIM

OK BB10

You rarely see Research in Motion (RIM) mentioned without the term "beleaguered", and it certainly fits. In spite of all its troubles, RIM has refused to rush BlackBerry 10 to market, and that's a good thing.

Make no mistake, the next version of the BlackBerry will make or break the company so the urge to get it released must be tremendous. Kudos to RIM for fighting that urge and for taking the time to get BlackBerry 10 right.

I'm not sure how long the company can keep things going, but it has zero chance if BlackBerry 10 isn't the best thing the company has ever done. Get it right and then get it out, RIM.

Apple

OK iPad

It's hard to find anything Apple isn't doing right, based on the financial situation of the company. Once you are on the top of the heap, the pressure increases to hit a home run with everything you do and that's the position Apple now occupies.

The next iPhone is due shortly, and Apple must be busy getting it ready for release. This could be the most important release in Apple's history, and no doubt the company is aware of this.

The rumors of a smaller iPad are everywhere, and it looks like we will see one soon. If that's true, kudos to Apple to put aside previous disdain for the form factor to do it. This could be as big as the iPad has been for the company if it's done properly.

Topics: Mobile OS, Android, Apple, Google, iOS, Microsoft, BlackBerry, Windows

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4 comments
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  • A well balanced article

    I'm hoping that RIM can leverage BB10 to level off or pull out of their nose dive and that Windows 8 is a success all around - that will spur Apple, Google, and the Android OEMs to make their products even better. This 2 horse smartphone race needs some competition.
    athynz
  • "A Well-Balanced Article?" Really?

    I noticed that everyone got a snide remark besides Apple. No negativity there. Obviously perfect, and no mention of the growing concern that Apple is out of new tricks and iOS is getting a bit long in the tooth. If you're going for positive, cut the criticism out, or spread it evenly. You're showing your bias (yet again).
    skyledavisbooks
    • Waaaaaaa

      He doesn't like Android.... waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.
      athynz
  • A Review of the Author -- And His Commenters

    I have seen a lot of piling on to James lately -- mostly in the form of whining about bias for blogs that one person or another doesn't like. At the risk of hijacking the comments of today's blog, I thought I'd give James himself a short review and let's see what that says the commenters.

    James is one of the few I know of who's been in mobile computing as long as I have -- I go back to the Tandy Pocket PC (both PC-2 and PC-6) unless you count the grey-line of my TI-58c -- and been using tablets longer than I (I only go back to the TC-1100). I've been following his work since MobileTech Roundup and OnTheRun (with the great, late Marc Orchant). James has always been as well spoken in my occasional private communications (email or tweets) as he has been in his public blogs.

    One of the reasons I've been following his writing and podcasts since 2005 is the even-handedness of his work. He gives both facts and analysis and most important, he gives *reasons* for his opinions. Nor is he hesitant to discuss the weaknesses of even the platforms that he likes. Being subjective, you may disagree with his reasons, but he's earned my respect. Perhaps the best tribute to his fairness is that I've seen his labeled respectively as an Apple-, Android- and (most recently) Microsoft-hater as well as an Apple "fanboi" and as having drunk the Microsoft/Android Kool-Aid.

    First of all, to call him a Microsoft hater is patently asinine. The guy who blogged "My dream tablet will likely have a Windows sticker on it" hates MS??? The guy who wrote "Bring back the HP tc1100" has a problem with MS. I'd note that the Surface Pro is the closest I've seen to bringing back that great piece of hardware. Yes, he's got concerns with Microsoft's approach with Win 8 and Surface. Looking at Microsoft's blend of successes and failures, only a fool wouldn't. Personally, I think Win 8 will follow the path of XP, in that it won't be a home run, but will earn its way into people's hearts. That doesn't mean I don't share the concerns.

    To call him an Apple fanboi is just as blind, though. Someone with his lips super-glued to Steve's cold dead arse isn't going to sell off his iPad because it's collecting dust in favor of his Galaxy Tab. Nor would he castigate Apple for their misguided subscription policy fiasco back in Feb-Jun '11. It wasn't even until Nov of last year that he got an iPad 2.

    Not only has he gushed about his Galaxy Tab, but also the Nexus 7 which now shares his "favorite tablet" status with his iPad. He was also highly complimentary of the TouchPad and WebOS and equally crestfallen when HP dropped it so quickly. The bottom line is that mobile tech is, for James, a tool to solve a problem and his reporting and analysis reflects this.

    It's a shame the same cannot be said about so many who comment on his blogs. While certainly not all, it seems a disproportionate number of comments seem to be written by spoiled brats on all sides whose response to legitimate challenge of their pet devices seems to be best summarized by sticking their fingers in their ears and humming loudly. They say that the ad hominem attack is the fallback of the intellectually irrelevant. I wish I didn't have to see such frequent proof.

    The obvious response to that criticism then, is to not read the comments. Generally, I don't anymore. However, I'm often asked for cross-references in mobile tech. While I consider James one of the best voices on the subject, there's been too many times I've been unwilling to reference an article because the comment section is embarrassing. I certainly don't have a problem with disagreeing -- God knows, I done so enough times. However, I have little respect for infantile tantrums or responses based on reason rather than emotion.

    So, James... Thanks again for the service. And I really wish you'd consider starting a podcast again. I miss listening. (Heck, I'd even consider co-hosting, if it'd get you back on the air)
    RaulYbarra