Google's open source Android platform will turn one year old later this month, and according to Gartner, the OS is about to hit a major growth spurt. While Android can be found on less than 2 percent of all smartphones today, Gartner predicts a seven-fold increase in global Android-based handsets by 2012.
That would put Android in second place, trailing only the Symbian OS, which today accounts for nearly half of all smartphones but is expected to drop to 39 percent in 2010, Gartner says.
Gartner acknowledges that T-Mobile's G1 -- the first Android-based smartphone -- was met with a mixed response among consumers, but the research firm believes Google's continued backing of Android and its focus on cloud computing capabilities will propel the platform to 14 percent of the smartphone market in just a couple of years.
"Google's other up-and-coming consumer and enterprise products should make [Android] a dominant platform," Ken Dulaney, VP of Gartner Research, told ComputerWorld in an interview.
Dulaney also predicts that there could be as many as 40 models of Android devices shipping in 2010.
The ongoing and confusing saga of the iPhone App store continues. This time Apple has approved an official Vonage app with some very familiar features. The Vonage app does standard VoIP via Wi-Fi, as one would expect. However, it also works over the cellular network.
Vonage has clarified that it doesn’t use cellular data, but rather cellular voice. Calls are routed through a special Vonage number allowing very cheap international calls. Sound like anything you know of? Maybe like a little service that starts 'G', and ends with 'oogle Voice'?
Michael Tempora, senior VP of products at Vonage, said that the Vonage app does indeed work in a similar way to Google Voice when used over the cellular network. He went on to say that he saw no reason for Apple to pull the app. “We built the application in complete accordance with Apple’s rules,” he said.
This leaves only a few reasons Apple might have used to reject Google Voice while keeping Vonage. Maybe it was the address book syncing, maybe the free text messaging, or maybe just because it was from Google. Where do you stand? Will Apple yank the Vonage app? Or are they leaving it in to yank Google’s chain?
Some of my favorite early Internet memories came from visiting chat rooms: I started out using Microsoft Comic Chat and graduated to AOL chat rooms early on. When the Internet was young (and there wasn’t as much to do), it was pretty easy to become entranced by the number of random topics in which one could instantly discuss in real time. It was all honest fun, but I won’t lie, there was definitely that underlying sense of “OMG, I can totally lie about who I am, and no one will be the wiser.” This, of course, being a choice that many Internet users make to this day.
Having grown out of AOL, I moved on to vanilla IRC, where everything changed. Finally, an actual sense of community (and that desire to please the channel ops for some mod privileges). Yet somewhere along the line, ICQ and AOL Instant Messenger came along and usurped IRC by simply establishing presence: if you wanted to talk to someone, you just sent them an IM -- no more waiting around in the chat room to see if they’d pop in.
But the chat culture that we once knew and loved hasn’t disappeared completely, although its shape has changed significantly. IRC is still widely used, but these days it tends to be a tool too raw for use outside the geek set, where it’s frequently employed in conference “back-channels” or listener discussions for podcasts such as This Week in Tech. IM has become a de-facto mode of communication amongst friends and co-workers, so ubiquitous Google has begun to merge it with email (first with Gchat, and now with Google Wave). But for that random and serendipitous sense of discovery, where can the chat-hungry turn?
In addition to the heavily touted Sidewiki feature in the new Google Toolbar, the browser add-on also includes Google's advanced in-page translation for Firefox users, "making it easy to read a webpage in another language with the click of a button," Google said in a blog post.
Throwing another bone to Firefox users, the updated toolbar works in sync with Firefox version 3.5's Private Browsing Mode and will not record your search box history when maneuvering stealthily around the Web. PageRank, Web History, and Sidewiki are also turned off, freeing users up to visit the Detroit Lions support group without leaving any embarrassing traces behind.
Starting on October 5th IBM will begin selling a Web-based version of its popular Lotus Notes software suite, a move that puts it in direct competition with Google. The service which is currently being called “LotusLive iNotes” will include the traditional email, calendar, and contact management applications, but interestingly enough will not have any type of substitute for Google Docs.
IBM is apparently counting on the notion that most companies simply don’t want all of the applications that come with Google Apps, and would choose just the core communication applications if they had the choice. Just in case that alone isn’t enough to win over companies looking at cloud based options, they are also undercutting Google’s price per user by $14 a year, bringing the annual cost of a license down to a mere $36.
Google may have a two-year head start on IBM with over 1.75 million registered businesses, but researchers from Gartner claim this is only the tip of the iceberg. Apparently if current trends continue, almost 20 percent of companies will use some form of hosted email by 2012. It will be interesting to see if IBM’s sterling reputation with enterprises will be enough to beat out Google. Currently they don’t have any plans to offer free consumer level versions of the product, but that could certainly change over time.
Apple may be gearing up to boot Google Maps from the iPhone. Back in July Apple purchased mapping company PlaceBase. PlaceBase has a reputation for being very customizable with a rich set of APIs. This might make it ideal for adaptation to the iPhone.
Apple has relied on map tiles from Google since the iPhone launched in 2007. After the fiasco that was the Google Voice rejection, it’s not completely unthinkable that they might want to move away from Google technology on the iPhone platform. Consumers expect high quality map applications on phones these days. So this may be a risky way for Apple to deal with its Google dependence.
Is it possible that a future iPhone OS update might replace Google Maps with a new Apple branded maps app using Placebase? If that happened, would we at least get some sort of Google Latitude app?
Google sent out invitations to the new Google Wave beta yesterday and chaos is ensuing. Patrick Runald, senior manager of security and research at Websense, has been keeping an eye on all of the madness.
He has tracked search queries related to Wave invitations that lead you down the dark dirty alleys of the interwebs. Many searches yield results to malware and virus laden sites where it’s always phishing season.
The Wall Street Journal also reported an eBay auction for a Google Wave invite that saw bids get over $100 and side offers in the thousands. EBay quashed the whole thing due to copyright restrictions in its seller policy, but how gadget crazy has the world gone?
Did you get an invite? If you didn’t, are you livid and determined to get one “by any means?” Or are you cool with waiting for your turn to ride the Wave?
Web applications are quickly gaining popularity over desktop programs for day-to-day tasks like email and calendar management, but you have to run a web browser and be tethered to an Internet connection to take advantage of these services. Luckily for you, both Google Chrome and Firefox actually offer the ability to turn these web apps into desktop applications.
Looks like Best Buy wants to keep its hands, and its phones, in everyone’s pockets. They sealed a deal with Google on exclusivity of some mobile applications and collaboration on an online and in-store mobile storefront. With this effort, they hope to continue to make Best Buy’s mobile division competitive with mobile carrier stores.
In the works so far is a location aware Best Buy mobile application where users can search for, and track stock of, in-store products. They are collaborating on a few other applications in addition to Android specific and Ford Sync applications, but Best Buy declined to give details.
They also hope to launch a Best Buy Mobile online store where eventually users can share reviews and research mobile electronics, as well as purchase products online. Amazon opened a similar storefront (AmazonWireless) earlier this summer.
Similar to the IE Chrome Frame that Google released late last month, Mozilla suspects that Google’s engineers would have Firefox suffer the same fate.
The “Chrome Frame” idea is that within a completely different browser, Internet Explorer for example, one can view the website as Google’s Chrome browser would render it. The site can also take advantage of Chrome's latest technologies without installing a new browser.
Mozilla’s VP seemed a bit peeved about the whole thing. While it is still speculation on whether Google plans to create the plug-in, Mike Shraver, VP of engineering at Mozilla, says “I hope they won’t.” The biggest argument against Google, from Microsoft and now Mozilla, is that it over complicates the browsing process and can break certain aspects of the browser. Further, that HTML5 (supported in Chrome) is not a specified standard, and developers should be wary about developing with something that is not yet set in stone.
Ultimately, one would think Google’s thought process on the plug-in might be “one browser to rule them all,” and we all know how that turned out.