There’s no way around it: iPhones sell like gangbusters in the U.S. Even children are chomping at the bit to get in on the Siri action. Speaking of Siri, sales of the iPhone have skyrocketed on the back of the talking wonder bot – but not in Europe. Sure, the iPhone’s doing good is Britain, but analysts are reporting that sales are slumping on the mainland, even after the launch of the 4S. Why? Because it’s so darned expensive.
Flurry Analytics offers real time data to developers about how consumers use their mobile applications. Any application that uses Flurry Analytics rats out its user to an app developer, and at the same time provide some data about the smartphone community. Working their magic on the data they’ve received, Flurry says the Motorola Droid is one very popular phone.
Flurry says that 80 percent of all iPhone OS and Android devices use these reporting analytics. From this Flurry is able to make some educated guesses about the nature of the smartphone marketplace. And in that marketplace Flurry says Motorola’s Droid’s first 74 days moved more units than Apple’s iPhone did during that same period of time 1.05 million to 1.0 million. Flurry uses 74 days because that’s when Apple reported the iPhone’s reaching the 1 million units sold mark. While better after 74 days, the Droid has a ways to go to catch up to the 42.5 million iPhones sold.
Bad news here, though, is that not all Android phones are being as well received. During its first 74 days (actually 70 plus some extrapolation), Google’s Nexus One has move only 0.135 million units. Flurry ascribes the poor showing of the Nexus One to “unconventional choices in marketing, pricing and distribution.”
There’s a lot of other issues involved here, which make a precise comparison difficult. Flurry readily acknowledges such issues. However, what does seem apparent is Nexus One, despite the hype and anticipation, isn’t catching on--at least not just yet.
One of the frustrations in using a touchscreen device is they don’t seem to obey. Touching and having what you want happen is the ideal. But, it’s not uncommon to touch and have nothing happen or, better yet, touch and the wrong thing happen. The answer lies not is us or our stars, but in the underlying technology. The kind folks at Moto labs have put four touchscreen devices through their paces and have some interesting results to share.
The deal is this, says Moto: “It takes finesse to create a touchscreen system that’s pleasant to use, because touchscreens require seamless integration between hardware components, software algorithms, and user-interface design. If a manufacturer cuts corners or flubs any of the critical elements, the user’s experience with a touchscreen product is likely to suffer.” And, as Moto develops touchscreen devices, they appear to be in a position to know.
The test Moto presents is simple: how straight a line can your touchscreen draw while going slowly? Says Moto, “On inferior touchscreens, it’s basically impossible to draw straight-lines.” Why? “[B]ecause the sensor size is too big, the touch-sampling rate is too low, and/or the algorithms that convert gestures into images are too non-linear to faithfully represent user inputs.” (Drawing lightly, says Moto, will provide a ready demonstration, because that’s when the touch signal is weakest.)
Best of the bunch, which included the Apple iPhone, the HTC Droid Eris, the Motorola Droid, and the Google Nexus One, was the iPhone, but not by a whole lot. Moto says of it: “Precise lines indicate accurate representation of finger path.” But, there’s a “[n]oticeable loss of sensitivity at the edges.” Worst in the group appears to be the Motorola Droid, which performed poorly under light-and medium-pressure tests. The Nexus One, Moto says, has good edge sensitivity, similar to the HTC Droid Eris (no surprise as both use the same touch controller IC), but have lines slightly wavier than the iPhone.
Inquiring minds might not really care, but developers for smartphones certainly do. And what they care about is what mobile OS platforms are most prominent among users, so they can better direct their limited resources to a market with potential. Unfortunately for Microsoft’s Windows Mobile, it looks to be one of those markets where potential is dwindling, with figures showing it slipping into third place behind Research in Motion’s (RIM) Blackberry and Apple’s iPhone.
The numbers reported are from ComScore, which conducts monthly user surveys of U.S. mobile subscribers, age 13 and over. The three month period ending in October show RIM with 15 million users, the iPhone with 9 million users, and Windows Mobile with 7 million users. (Non-proprietary OS rules the roost with 197 million users.)
The good news for Microsoft is that the number of Windows Mobile users has stayed fairly constant in 2009. The bad news is that Apple’s user base has shown a relatively steady increase during the year. And the really bad news is that Google’s Android has yet to make its presence felt in the market.
Jason Ankeny, at FierceDeveloper, a site dedicated to wireless developers, writes that “Microsoft's Windows Mobile platform seems increasingly irrelevant with each passing week.” He notes that Windows Mobile lost 28 percent market share between the 3rd quarter of 2008 and the 3rd quarter of 2009. Steve Lohr, a writer for the Strategic New Service, echoes Ankeny, stating “It’s time to declare Microsoft a loser in phones. Just get out of Dodge.”
Microsoft’s share of the mobile OS market has plummeted sharply in the last few years. It needs to quickly mount a counter-offensive against its more dapper rivals in the smartphone market, if it is to prevent itself from being marginalized even further. According to Taiwanese rumor mill Digitimes, Microsoft does have a strategy to counter its rivals in the smartphone market.
Microsoft seems to have finally taken a cue from its competitors in the cellphone market and is planning to roll out an online marketplace – similar to Apple’s App Store – for the distribution of Windows Mobile applications, according to The Wall Street Journal. The online marketplace will allow developers to directly distribute their applications to Windows Mobile users.
The company is also on the verge of offering a new service called My Phone. It will let users store backups of their Windows Mobile phone’s data on the internet. The company won’t be charging any subscription charges, although iPhone users have to shelve out $99 per year for a similar offering. Other companies are dictating terms to Microsoft in the cellphone market and the company will have to make some changes to turn the tide.
Microsoft has released a free iPhone app called TagReader. It happens to be the software bellwether’s second iPhone app after SeaDragon Mobile. Using TagReader, iPhone users can photograph a tag (Microsoft’s vivid version of barcodes) to search for information related to that particular tag without having to type in anything.
If you snap a tag on a person’s visiting card using the TagReader iPhone app, then your search will, in all likelihood, yield results related to that person. The app sounds fun from the off, but its usefulness is contingent upon the success of Microsoft Tag, which is currently in beta. You can create your own tags here and eventually test the usefulness of TagReader by snapping them.