The Mobile Landscape: Part 2 – RIM and Google

In my previous blog The Mobile Landscape: Part 1 – Key factors I explained why I believe the mobile market is fuelling up. This is set to affect each and every one of us as well as affecting the enterprise market significantly. I discussed what analysts believe the value of the market is and briefly highlighted the key players in the market. In this instalment I will have a look at the key offerings of both Research in Motion (RIM) and Google.

Research in Motion

RIM has previously been the pioneer of many functions such as messaging and transaction servers; they were really the first to put the smart in to Smartphone’s. Being the first obviously has its advantages, on the one hand you can gain market share and people start using your technology before others. On the negative side, the technology was designed at the dawn of a revolution, this means it then requires reinvestment continuously and it can be quite a task not only to fulfil the markets current needs but to take a step ahead of your competitors, look at Nokia 5 years ago when they were the biggest player in the market, where are they today?

A lot of good things have come from the technology RIM has taken to the market, the obvious one being security, they were definitely the market leaders in terms of how to secure the communication, setting the standard for many others. If you look at big organisations that have adopted RIM’s Blackberry the main use is for email and messaging, however  in specific industries such as finance RIM have had a lot of impact in developing transaction based solutions with their transaction based platform. From a business usage point of view RIM’s Platform is currently the most mature platform to adopt, with a lot of built-in features.

Blackberry Messenger speech bubble with Android Icon in background Source: Pocket-Lint http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/38905/bbm-blackberry-messenger-android-ios

If you look at the RIM offering for the consumer market you can see that their penetration in the mid part of the market is relatively low because for some time their platform lacked the bells and whistles of other offerings. They are now looking to address these problems with the new Blackberry Tablet O/S which we can see in the new Blackberry Playbook tablet. One area RIM many be looking to make changes to over the coming months is its app strategy, currently developers find building apps on this platform an awkward and costly task. With the other giants in the Smartphone market fast catching up on the leading features RIM currently has to offer, now may be the time for RIM to reassess their approach in order to keep market share away from the competition, the following article Why Apps, Not Apple, Are Killing Blackberry covers this subject in more detail.

As well as investing in the new operating system, like Microsoft, RIM are focused on developing a new paradigm suited for Generation-Z. If you look at the UK for example, ownership of Blackberry devices over others is very high in the 10-16 age bracket, this I would put mainly down to the fact that they receive free of charge instant messaging. Having this generation become familiar with the RIM paradigm is an important seeding strategy that RIM hopes will see them become ambassadors for the technology as they move in to their working careers. For this strategy to be a long term success for RIM not just in the near future but five to ten years down the line, it is very important for them to continue developing there paradigm to meet the changing demands of this generation.
Evolution of Android showing different versionsSource: intomobile – Evolution of Android http://www.intomobile.com/2010/07/13/evolution-of-android-follow-the-gingerbread-roadmap/

Google

Android G1 was released by Google in 2008, following this there have been the Cupcake (1.5), Donut (1.6), Eclair (2.0), Froyo (2.2) and Gingerbread (2.3) all in the space of 3 years; this outlines the task faced of managing multiple codebase for different versions. As briefly mentioned in part one, Google offer their operating system free of charge via OEM agreements, this presents the issue of the software not being designed to utilise the capabilities of the hardware it is running on as I have discussed before, add to this the concerns over security due to the different architectures and this can present some real challenges within the market. Below is a quote from Chris Fagan co-founder of Froogloid, his comment reaffirms the challenge faced by Android developers.

“Instead of working on updates to our apps, we find we are trying to make each app work for multiple versions of the OS and different hardware capabilities”

Ice-Cream-Sandwich-Android-2.4
Source: Mobile Geeks http://mobilegeeky.com/google-announces-ice-cream-sandwich-android-2-4-os/

Google are now looking to alleviate this challenge with the introduction of its next operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich, by amalgamating the AOSP (Android Open Source Code) from Gingerbread, Honeycomb and the software that the Google TV Platform operates. The goal is to build on the best features of both the tablet-based Honeycomb and phone-based Gingerbread that will work seamlessly across all Android phones, tablets and other mobile devices.  This would result in Android developers reducing time spent on supporting applications on all Android platforms and allow energy to be refocused on regular updates of their own applications.

Android being used at homeSource: ElectricPig http://www.electricpig.co.uk/2011/05/10/android-at-home-takes-on-airplay-controls-your-lightbulbs/

While RIM sees the importance of seeding the younger generation in order to sustain market position, Google seem to be taking another angle by having the Android platform play a part in your day as much as possible. During the Google I/O event Android@home was introduced with a demonstration of connecting and controlling your sound system with your Android device, so by the end of the year it is expected that should you wish to turn your lights off or communicate with the washing machine you can do this all from the comfort of your chair with your Android device in hand. The two strategies of RIM and Google couldn’t be further apart, only time will tell which has the most impact in the future mobile market.

Next up Apple and Microsoft, keep watching for part three.

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David Akka | Magic Software