Android’s Future in the World of Mobile Devices

Albeit the booming sales of Androids over the past year – being the top player in mobile device sales by selling over a billion phones in 2014 alone, nearly five times that of iphones – there are still some challenges that Google faces with Android. As Apple’s mobile device popularity continues to grow at an unprecedented rate, there are some known facts that Google is beginning to face. Over the years, many people have used Android for it’s affordability over Apple. In general, this has, demographically, represented Android users as less financially well-off than Apple users. As a result, Android users have invested less money overall in Google Play – Androids’ app store. The sales generated from phone devices alone is meager in comparison to the revenue made from apps. The issue for Google is that although Google Play has become increasingly popular in past years, Apple continues to generate more from it’s app store – about $4 billion more than Google Play.

Given that a majority of revenue of mobile devices come from apps, Google has suffered significantly, specifically from China’s focus being primarily on iOS platforms, which has resulted in the country essentially blocking Google app sales. On top of that, Google has had a difficult time generating money from ads on Android. Being an ad company that owns most of the popular internet, one would think the company would favor their own product over Apple advertisements. However, it has inadvertently been quite the contrary. Instead, a recent analysis by Goldman Sachs found that 75% of the $11.8 billion Google collected on mobile search ads came strictly from iphone or ipad advertisements.

With the growing popularity of Apple devices and the steady interest in iOS application development, specifically in Silicon Valley, Google is struggling to keep Android as a first choice among consumers. In addition, it seems that those that are not invested in Apple devices are looking for alternatives, as many are not wanting to support Google. Since Google has colonized much of the tech world – yet is ceasing to be a dominate player in the mobile device market – other companies, specifically smaller players, are using this as leverage to market their apps and new forms of interface to different companies, in effort to keep money within their own “ecosystem”.

Google is now reconsidering it’s priorities. Initially Android was used as a smartphone platform to get users to more easily access Google. The founders claimed they weren’t originally necessarily interested in phone sales. However, now that they have seen the direction the future is going, and the future seems to be lying in the palms of our hands, Google is reassessing how to compete with their competitors, and if that is even something they are interested in doing. It seems that Androids, being a more affordable smartphone device for so long, had become known as a “gateway” for phone users. As mobile device users become more savvy and intelligent , Google is finding their customers to not be so loyal as a mass migration has taken place from Android, straight into the bosom of Apple. Maybe it’s Apple’s sleek advertisements or their disciples’ cunning proselytizing, either way, users are converting. This past year alone, 16% of iphone purchasers were previously Android users

It seems that Google needs to more clearly delineate their intentions with Android. Considering Google is such a major force of power that has monopolized the internet to a point where the word “google” has now become a verb, there is some curiosity of whether now Google wants be more altruistic, offering Android as an affordable product to the middle class, and not simply cater to the successful, ambitious tech oligopoly. Or does Google have no such plans to remain the underdog for long. Time will only tell, but something tells me that Google is not interested in supporting the proletariate in the long run.

Top 5 Coolest Technologies of 2015

In just a year, technology has brought us an extraordinary amount of advancement. Below are our top 5 picks of the most recently released, important tech gadgets of 2015.

Microsoft HoloLens

Described as a first of it’s kinds – an “untethered, see-through holographic computer” – Microsoft has distanced itself from labels such as “virtual reality” by identifying the Microsoft glasses as an “experience mixed reality”. It is a combination of holograms mixed with reality, advertised to be used to expand creativity, communication, work and play. Have an idea? Perhaps Microsoft’s HoloLens can help in your decision making process by going slightly beyond the 2D screen in bringing your idea to life in effort to more intimately understand your concept. The future is here and it involves a more personable, natural interaction with content.

Self-driving cars

A self-driving car? Rewind a little less than 50 years ago, the idea would have been considered preposterous, even ludicrous, reserved only for that of a science fiction novel. Now, the concept of a vehicle being able to navigate and function without the efforts of a human is now a near reality. Fast forward to 2015 – if you live in Mountain View, California, where Google’s headquarters resides, you might happen to see a peculiar little, egg-like bugger of a car, with it’s driver being completely hands-off the wheel. Welcome to the era of the autonomous vehicle, or better yet, the era of the ever pervasive “internet of things” where the only responsibility the user has is to push a button and the rest is simply taken care of from there. And it’s not just Google that has jumped onto the self-driving bandwagon. Nissan has recently announced the company has scheduled to release it’s self-driving car for 2020. Tesla also took a big leap toward self-driving electronic cars. Although initially made to only be a not-so-affordable-yet-extremely-efficient electronic vehicle, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk, now reported that a software update will be installed in a matter of months for the Model S to have an automatic steering feature installed. These are now being tested on the road from Seattle to San Francisco.

Automated Action Camera Drones

This year has been the big release for many Robotics companies across the nation of the autonomous action camera drone. In 2014, there was plenty of anticipation leading up to the technology, a first of its kind. Gone are the days of wearing detachable action cameras such as GoPros. Robotics companies have solved the problem of eliminating any extra bulk by allocating the responsibility of filming to a drone. It is acknowledged by some as the perfect marriage between drone technology and cameras. Capture every moment without the hassle of needing to be responsible for getting it all on film yourself. It is like having your own paparazzi on demand.

Apple Watch

It was in the early 1980s that computers were about the size of one’s room, just 30 years later, they are now optimized and customized to the size of one’s wrist. Gone are the extraneous machines and the large bulky parts. Today we have efficiency and practicality in the palms of our hands – literally. Not only is the apple watch a wearable device, but it is also sleek and fashionable. After three years in development, the Apple watch was finally released in April 2015. Users can communicate with friends, measure metrics such as steps taken, calories burned, and pulse, as well as use GPS, email, weather, music, and the oh-so-needed Siri application. The Apple watch is distinct from other Apple products with how it senses the pressure of one’s touch to mean different signals from it’s user. Next up – the Apple ring.

Wearable Medical Devices

The wearable medical device industry is booming at an unprecedented rate. Such devices are considered to be transforming the medical field beyond what could have ever been imagined even just 10 years ago. Health monitoring is becoming more and more personable, allowing the patient to take health care into their own hands. From monitoring post-hospitalization to chronic disease, researchers are expecting some very important data from such devices. Currently, the ever growing number of medical devices includes glucose monitoring, ECG monitors, pulse oximeters and blood pressure monitors.

By 2016 the wearable technology market is expected to exceed $2.9 billion. Some of this wearable health and fitness technology includes Preventice’s BodyGuarian’s Remote Monitoring System, Avery Demisa’s Metric Wearable tech, 9Solutions IPCS, BodyTel, AiQ Smart Clothing, Danfoss PolyPower AIS, among many more. Most of these devices are compatible with iPhones and Bluetooth, enabling patients to send measured body information directly back to their doctors. Convenient and empowering.

The Lack of Reliability of Product Reviews

When purchasing the newest technology gadget, consumers – depending on the expense and total investment – will most times carry out an extensive internet search seeking the most recent, relevant reviews before following through with a purchase. However, given freedom of speech, the internet has become a platform for open opionating. Since the advent of the internet, the need for validity has wavered to the point where all accessible information – and mind you, all information is in fact accessible on the world wide web – is considered to carry some form of weight, due to the majority of consumers being neophytes in some shape or form. Whether it is a mother reviewing a new vacuum, or an employee from the vacuum company itself offering their two cents on the product, each opinion, in many consumer’s eyes, are viewed as equal. This intense reliability and trust in the anonymous is perhaps a product of two culture phenomena. First, many consumers, when reading reviews, aren’t curious enough to take a quick peek at the writer’s profile. What is important to consider is, with every persons opinion or critique shared, there is inevitably a bit of ethnocentrism that is almost impractical to remove. However, often times this is not considered. One consumer reads another consumer’s review, and more often than not take it at face value. Secondly, many reviews are in fact written by individuals who either a) have some sort of intimate relationship with the company (i.e. owner’s wife, friends, employees, etc) or b) are professionals paid to provide a write up with a positive spin in favor of the product, in effort for the company to keep their ratings high.

What use to be an outlet for freedom of speech and unfiltered, uncensored participation, has recently become muddled by more and more people becoming savvy enough to know how to tweak their online image, company and product in their favor – because it isn’t that hard to do. Therefore, when it comes to product reviews, whether it is a result of the “anything goes” mentality or due to reviewers with conflicts of interests, product reviews are damaged. However, this isn’t to say there isn’t any validity when it comes to product reviews. You can get a baseline idea of what the product is going to be like, but if you truly want to know all the pros and cons (warning, is you find a review site that has no cons, don’t drink the kool aid), it is best to discuss with friends or seek out a reliable forum to inquire about the newest technology gadget you plan on purchasing.

Aside from quality control, another major downside of product reviews that tends to be gleefully over looked is the lack of any mention of a company’s customer service. Customer service, while it might not be a priority when making your initial purchase, will most likely be of importance when something goes wrong and you need external help. In fact, customer service is what you would expect to rely on, which is often times why it goes overlooked. However, this is of critical importance when shopping for any technology, because as we all know, technology has its defects, and after spending $1000 on something we think will bring convenience to our life, we want some quality help when that investment becomes more of a burden.

Quality, speed, response time, experience and reliability are generally the expectations we have of customer service. More often than not, we want all five of these attributes, because quality service without a fast delivery just won’t do. Granted, maybe there is no such this as 100% hassle free service, but I believe we all expect something quite close to it. However, at this point in time, oddly enough – even with the plethora of product review sites available on the internet – there has yet to exist a “one-stop-shop” for customer service reviews, as mentioned in Brian X. Chen’s article in the New York Times. And I must agree with him, with all those those tech-savvy, start-up pushing, entrepreneurs out there, this presents a pretty excellent untapped market to jump on. And yes, while collecting data on customer service does seem like an extensive project, I believe there would be some very happy shoppers out there who would be grateful to be more informed. Takers?

 

Google’s Experimental Patent Purchase Program

Whether it is an attempt to strictly protect against patent trolls or the less altruistic pursuit of acquiring more leverage against their competitors, Google has initiated a new, experimental program to review patents from sellers, in order to prevent them from ending up in the wrong hands. There has been friction in the past where patents have been sold to non-practicing entities, calling into question the validity of software patents altogether. Google’s method of reducing this contention in the market is to vet all potential patents looking to be sold by having the owners submit them to Google’s Patent Purchase Promotion Program, communicating exactly when they would like to be sold and at what price.

The first trial of this program will begin on May 8th, allowing all patents to be submitted for review until May 22nd. After the window for submission closes, Google will reconnect with all patent holders who submitted by June 26th about the potential of acquiring their patent, clarify the logistics and what it would entail. Google is attempting to finalize all those they would like to absorb as their own by end of August. Before all transactions are finalized, Google is mandating sellers be well versed with the “fine print”. Because of the politics regarding patent laws, the company is in fact encouraging those who do choose to sell to Google to speak with an attorney. They do not want anyone in the dark about certain liberties or potentialities Google could have with the acquisition. The company wants all sellers to step away from their patent knowing the rights Google holds post-transaction.

The strict window for patent submission is Google’s attempt to expedite the review and acquisition process.  The company states their intentions are invested in creating a more hospitable environment and smoother experience for both individuals and companies selling patents, by overseeing they get to the right people at the appropriate price. And in Google’s world, well, that is Google.