To say it's been a good quarter for Google's Android platform is an understatement. Back in August 2010, Android trailed behind Apple in smartphone market share by 4.6 percentage points. But for the 3 month average ending November 2010, Android sits on top of Apple with a 26 percent share of the market, compared to Apple's 25 percent share, according to new data by comScore.
"After several months of strong growth, Google Android captured the #2 ranking among smartphone platforms in November with 26.0 percent of U.S. smartphone subscribers. Apple accounted for 25.0 percent of smartphone subscribers (up 0.8 percentage points), followed by Microsoft with 9.0 percent and Palm with 3.9 percent.," comScore notes.
Android posted the biggest point change of them all, and by a wide margin. While Google moved up 6.4 percentage points, Apple was the only other company to post a gain, and by less than 1 percentage point.
We recently heard reports that Research In Motion's PlayBook tablet might not be ready for prime time due to battery life concerns, but according to RIM, it's much ado about not very much Erictric.com reports.
"Any testing or observation of battery life to date by anyone outside of RIM would have been performed using pre-beta units that were built without power management implemented," RIM explains. "RIM is on track with its schedule to optimize the BlackBerry PlayBook’s battery life and looks forward to providing customers with a professional grade tablet that offers superior performance with comparable battery life."
Reading between the lines, it's probably fair to say that the PlayBook is still in need of some tweaks to get battery life up to par with competing tablets, but it's not an issue RIM expects to cause any delays.
Ruh roh, Shaggy. If what we're hearing from news and rumor site Fudzilla turns out to be true, Research In Motion's upcoming PlayBook tablet could have a tough time taking on the iPad, Galaxy Tab, and every other slate. According to Fudzilla, battery life woes are proving to be a thorn in RIM's side.
"Apparently, the issue stems from the adapted QNX OS that powers the new PlayBook tablet along with the fact that the OS was never really optimized for battery life," Fudzilla explains. "To address this issue the engineers at RIM have had to adapt, refine and build new routines at low levels to allow the OS to only sip the battery power to extend battery life. Optimizing battery life isn’t an easy thing to do and takes significant time and work."
This isn't a death knell for the PlayBook, and most agree the device holds a lot of promise. But don't rule out a delay, either. The last thing RIM wants to do is push out a half-baked tablet to go up against competing slates boasting 6-10+ hours of battery life.
Google's Andy Rubin Tweeted today that the company is seeing over 300,000 phone activations each day. This figure is higher than Apple and RIM both. It is even in the ballpark of the highest numbers Nokia have ever announced for the Symbian platform. Let's also remember that all these Android phones are certifiable smartphones. Some Symbian handsets are inexpensive commodity devices.
To put this another way, Google is seeing nearly 10 million new Android activations per month. Apple is currently riding high on 14.4 million new iPhone activations in an entire quarter. It was only a few months ago that Google told us they were seeing about 200k activations per day. A 50% rise in that time is astounding. At this rate, Android may soon own the lion's share of the mobile OS market.
You might not have heard of the Astonishing Tribe (TAT). But if you carry an Android phone, you are enjoying their work. TAT designed the pull down notification bar that makes Android notifications so efficient. TAT has developed user interface paradigms for numerous companies, but now they will be lending their expertise to a single company: RIM. That's right, the BlackBerry UI might be getting a lot more awesome now that RIM has acquired TAT.
On the RIM company blog, the company CTO David Yach said he was "excited" to have TAT joining RIM to work on both the BalckBerry Playbook and smartphones. This is great news for fans of the Canadian smartphone maker. While their business functionality has always been solid, a dated UI and lack of consumer features would be liabilities going forward.
This does, however, mean that Android will have to soldier on without TAT's UI prowess. How do you think this will affect the BlackBerry interface going forward?
RIM recently removed popular messaging app Kik from the BlackBerry app store. The only reason given for the removal was "breaching contractual obligations". But according to a Canadian court filing, RIM has now sued Kik for patent infringement. It is not clear what features of Kik are considered infringing by Waterloo, but we would imagine it relates to the way Kik notifies users when a message has been sent, received, and viewed. Just like Blackberry Messenger (BBM).
Kik is available on several platforms, and has amassed a large userbase in the neighborhood of 2.5 million in a short time. Kik allows users to have an instant messaging experience that is closer to that of BBM than the competition. RIM may feel that BlackBerry Messenger is one of their remaining selling points as Android and iOS eat up the market.
Kik was in the midst of lining up a round of funding when this suit was filed. It's unclear if they were able to lock in any deals before the news broke. Kik founder Ted Livington is reportedly "disappointed" by the suit.
Samsung has already racked up 600,000 Galaxy Tab sales and the iPad still dominates the tablet market, so where does that leave the competition? In really good shape, apparently. Ittai Kidron, an analyst with Oppenheimer, predicts that Research In Motion's (RIM's) PlayBook will fall into the hands of 3.3 million users by 2012, CNet reports.
The PlayBook is taking aim at the enterprise crowd where interest has been heating up. Because of this, Kidron sees RIM selling 100,000 PlayBook devices in the fiscal fourth quarter ending February 28 with an average selling price of $540.
Is Kidron being overly optimistic? It's far too early to tell, but it certainly didn't hurt that RIM recently posted a side-by-side comparison of its PlayBook with the iPad in which the PlayBook trounced Apple's magical tablet in page loads, Flash capability, and overall performance.
Reports earlier in the day seemed to make it pretty clear that BlackBerry maker RIM had reached an agreement with Indian authorities regarding access to their encrypted email system. The word was that India would get access to encrypted BlackBerry user data if a lawful request was filed. But now RIM is calling those claims false, according to All Things D.
RIM has been in talks with India for the last few months, but says it has no plans to make changes in its security practices at this time. It's been a sticky situation for RIM, which has always tried to adhere to the lawful access laws in all the countries it does business in. Additionally, providing the encryption keys is mostly impossible in the first place, meaning a special system would need to be placed in India for authorities to have access.
This doesn't mean there won't be an agreement. It could be that a government minister just jumped the gun, and RIM will end up capitulating soon enough. How do you think RIM should deal with these ongoing data requests?
Oh, it's on like Donkey Kong (don't sue us, Nintendo). Jim Balsillie, head honcho over at Research In Motion (RIM) had plenty to say about Apple's smartphone business model during an on-stage interview at a Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, AFP reports.
"You don't need an app for the Web," Balsillie began. "We believe you can bring the mobile to the Web, but you don't need to go through some kind of control point."
The RIM chief was taking a shot at Apple's tight control over which apps end up the App Store at iTunes.
"It is really not about a set of proprietary rules or about appifying the Web," Balsillie said. "The Web needs a platform that allows you to use your existing Web content, not apps."
Balsillie pulled the Flash trump card during his interview, pointing out how even though there are tons of Flash videos on the Web, Apple's mobile phone can't play them.
One of the most important aspects of any mobile device in this day and age is the quality of the browsing experience. While the iPad is understood to have a great browser, it might have met its match in the upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook. RIM is going all out to promote their tablet, and this new video is turning some heads.
The side-by-side comparison shows the iPad browser being schooled by the PlayBook in a number of ways. The PlayBook manages to load web pages at almost desktop speeds. The iPad, while fast, cannot compete. Rendering on both devices is similar, but the PlayBook also loads Adobe Flash content. HTML5 performance was also demonstrated, giving the PlayBook the clear win there as well.
The iPad might still have the edge in that you can actually buy it, but the PlayBook is looking more compelling than it might have at first. Do you find this demo convincing, or will you only believe it when the product is real?