Category Archives: Opinion

Addressing the Alienware Phone Article

Let me start off by saying that the design I saw of that Alienware phone is about the most hideous looking phone I’ve ever seen. In my 6 years of working in and closely following the cell phone industry, I have never been so completely turned off by a design. It would probably do well with the hardcore Star Trek and World of Warcraft fans but not the other 95% of the world. There is no market out there to sell this thing. Dell and Alienware would invest far too much time and money into a device like this only to see it sell limited numbers.

Enough about the device itself. I want to switch gears and discuss the content of the article and talk about how little credibility I find in the piece. First of all, the article comes after 3GSM/MWC yet it refers to being announced there. We know that nothing materialized from neither Dell nor Alienware. There is not one substantial reason given as to why the phone is currently in the works, only rumor and conjecture. There is no ‘source’ to credit where the alleged specs come from. Where is the basis for ‘classic Alienware eye catching design, large screen with high resolution, superb video gaming capability, or fantastic audio?

Finally, the actual prototype. It’s clearly not a leaked mock-up when you can see at the bottom that it was designed for the website. Anybody with half a knack for Photoshop could work up a phone design with a taste of Alienware in it.

Please note that I am not saying there will be no Alienware phone. There may be, but it will not look anything like this.

Judging a Book…

Now that two completely different versions of the software developer’s kit (SDK) have been released, it’s time to assess what’s being said about Google’s foray in the mobile arena. Did it improve on the initial offering? What changes were made? Does Android look like it’s going to live up to its hype?

Around 4-6 weeks ago, there was a lot of backlash surrounding the SDK and how it was buggy, missing vital information, and not quite what was expected. Google’s name was being tarnished by bloggers and tech sites as word quickly spread that they were “being unresponsive to the developers” working on Android. After a week or so of hype, the consensus among bloggers and fanboys was that people were just expecting way too much out of a pre-release SDK.

Fast forward to Mobile World Congress (MWC) and the public unveiling. The first few days of MWC had almost all interested parties singing Android’s praises as they found it to be considerably fast and intuitive, even on phone technology that was two generations old. “Imagine how fast it will be on new hardware!” A couple days later, Google drops the new SDK on the masses and all of a sudden, everyone divided themselves like some kind of Lord of the Flies tribes. Those who love it and see the future capabilities and those who loathe it and feel like it will end up being an also-ran in the cell phone market.

Did people really like the initial version that much? Why don’t they like the new version? I have my reasons and I’d like to share them with you. No matter how hard people try not to, they are going to subconsciously compare every other operating system to Apple’s iPhone. For this specific reason, they will be wrong in their assessment of Android.

See, the iPhone is not so much about what you can do with a mobile device. Rather, it’s about how it looks doing it. For those who understand and see the potential, Android is a completely different animal that, in concept, offers more. Android is about what mobile devices and phones will be capable of first. How it looks will be secondary. Having an open source OS, you’ll see skins and graphical user interfaces all the live long day. Like snowflakes, no two Android phones will look the same.

One must remember that an SDK is only the backbone for how things will operate. A good comparison would be to picture Windows on your desktop without any customization or programs installed. It’s up to you to make it run the way you want and look the way you like. And for those talking about all of the security concerns, stop worrying. Linux has proven to be a lighter, more secure operating system than Windows.

Potential for 2D Barcodes is Limitless

As individuals and teams are busy plugging away with their current Android projects, I’d like to appeal to them. In fact, it doesn’t matter what platform you are writing for. Symbian, Apple, RIM, Windows Mobile, or Linux. All can take advantage of this. The technology behind the 2D barcodes has been largely ignored in the United States.

2D, or Quick Response (QR) barcodes have been around for over 13 years yet essentially nobody can tell you how they work. Most people haven’t seen them before and the few that have will most likely just say “Oh yeah, I’ve seen them before. What do they do again?”

Here’s a quick primer: They were initially designed for tracking parts in auto manufacturing, but they’re now used in a much broader commercial context. Aimed at mobile phone users, the codes often store text and links to URL’s. You’ll find them in magazines, on signs, business cards or pretty much anywhere you can put a sticker. A user with a camera phone equipped with the right software can scan the image of the QR Code and their phone will respond accordingly, often taking the user to a website.

So where in your daily life could you find it beneficial to use this stuff? Here are a couple of examples that could really benefit from this technology. Real estate agents could put barcodes on their fliers and sheets with houses listed. Rather than just seeing one picture with a price, imagine being directed to a site that has an entire gallery, video walk-through, and FAQ’s.

If you’ve ever stopped at a car lot late at night only to find a sheet of paper stuck to the window of a locked car, you’ll see where I am going with this. Mileage, available features, and warranty information might be provided to you simply by scanning the sticker on the windshield. And you don’t have to stand there and talk to high pressure salesmen!

Perhaps you’re at an amusement park and you need pointed to the nearest restroom. Click the sticker on your map and get turn by turn directions. Looking for your doctor at the new facility and aren’t quite sure where to go? You can see what I’m getting at.

Getting back to those who are developing for Android I’d like to say this. Your entry into the Android Developers Challenge is sitting right here in front of you. If I knew how to write a program, here’s what I would do: Write an application where a user can scan the front of their ATM card and be directed to the nearest ATM location, taking advantage of the GPS or tower-based location features.

Unfortunately I’m only a blogger.

Nokia Will Reshape The Internet, Not Google

Well at least according to Nokia’s president and CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo. What makes him so sure of this bold statement? He believes that MAPS 2.0 an application that will be available later this summer is the answer. In an article on EETimes.com Kallasvuo said “By adding context–such as time, place and people–to the Internet, the Web will become something very different from the one you have today.” Take that Google! You can read the complete article here.

Never missing an opportunity to bash Google, Kallasvuo had this to say about Android. “Google’s Android is still a Power Point presentation.” Ouch! Perhaps one of the many Android based phones at the World Mobile Congress will fall on Mr. Kallasvuo’s head, but he should be okay. Afterall, Power Point presentations don’t hurt all that much.

What to Expect From Android

A lot of the hype around Android comes from developers and their geeky community. The main reason for this is because they “get it”. They understand just how groundbreaking an open-source operating system is, especially for mobile devices. But what about the average guy with no idea what Android is or how it could benefit them? That’s where I come in. I’m here to help you, the typical AndroidGuys visitor, gain an understanding as to what Android truly is and how it will change your life.

Forecasting the Future Using History
The easiest way for me to illustrate my points is by comparing how Firefox changed your internet experience with how Android will change your mobile experience.

Remember a few years ago when Mozilla was a relatively unknown, untested company who dropped an alternative web browser on us? Do you recall how at the time, pretty much everyone using the internet was using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer? We had been told time and again that it was the best experience we could get from a browser. But was it? We soon found out that not only was Firefox capable of a better experience, but it was also more secure, lighter, and more scalable. The long and short of it was this: It took less to run and held more promise for updates and implementing features. This is the exact situation Android is in right now. The requirements needed to handle Android are minimal by today’s device standards, but the long-term capability is considerably more far-reaching.

Think about all of the add-ons available for you today. With over 2,000 to choose from, you could download and install features to enhance rss feeds, weather, chat, tracking stocks, sports, etc. Need something to organize your bookmarks more efficiently? You got it. How about a better way to manage your downloads and/or uploads? Go get it. For free.

So Tell Me What it Does Already!
The same thing will apply for Android. Even if you solely base Android around GPS and mapping capabilities, you’re in for some real treats. Wonder what restaurants nearby serve sushi? Pull out your phone and look! Not only will you find the restaurants along with their address and phone number, but you’ll also be able to see who is actually open and who is closed. Using the map, you can get turn by turn directions.

Why not install a utility to locate all of the Fifth Third banks around the world so you’ll always know where the nearest ATM is? If you have a fantasy baseball team, plug your players into the tracking program so you can see how well they are performing. We’re talking about real time stats pushed to your device, not pulled. Forget logging on to see how LeBron and the Cavs are doing. Just watch the scrolling ESPN ticker you installed at the bottom of your phone.

Like Firefox, you’ll also be able to dress your phone up in any way you want. Instead of looking at the address book that comes with it, perhaps you want to use the most recent pictures from your MySpace friends. How about a nice weather program or traffic utility that gives you an idea as to how early to leave for work today? You can bet that someone out there is already working on this.

It Will Take Time
Now, it may take a few years before the true Android experience hits its stride. Firefox did not turn into the preferred browser overnight. And even though Mozilla’s program doesn’t have the same market share as the blue ‘e’ next door, everyone knows it’s a better interface. Why is it? because it’s open-source, that’s why. I’ve always been of the opinion that the hive mind is the way to go when working on projects. It’s what drives the web 2.0 phenomenon we’re in the midst of. Run through some of the most popular web sites today and you’ll see the impact. Digg, Wikipedia, Flickr, etc. These are programs and utilities that work best when you have as many hands in the pot as you can.

Who has their hands in the Android pot? On the hardware side, you have names like Intel, Texas Instruments, and nVidia. These guys are helping shape the cutting edge phones due out from HTC, LG and Samsung. And who is going to provide access to these devices? Why, T-Mobile, Sprint Nextel, China Mobile, and NTT DoCoMo of course! What, you haven’t heard of the Open Handset Alliance?

20/20 Podcast #8

Last Wednesday saw Jamie and Scott sitting down to record another pair of 20/20 podcasts. Rather than sticking to a pre-planned ‘script’ for talking from, we decided to give ourselves a few bullet points to choose from and tackle them in whatever order seemed logical. Our conversation felt more natural to us as we shot from the hip. We’re pleased with the results and hope that you will be too! If you have a topic or comment that you’d like to see us cover, leave a comment or drop an email. If you like what you hear, subscribe to the AndroidGuys 20/20 Podcast Feed today!

Part 1 (#8A) topics include how Google Android will fit into the prepaid business model. We also touch on the Dell/Google rumor from last week as well as Motorola‘s possible exodus. Finally, the developer kit news regarding the extended entry date for the Developer Challenge and 700MHz auction round out the first 20 minutes.

Part 2 (#8B) had us getting into Nokia and Trolltech‘s announcement last week. Is Nokia competing directly with Google or do they have similar end games? We also forecast a little bit into Yahoo and who might be best suited to buy them and/or rescue them. Skyfire was just a brand new topic when we recorded this so we touched a bit on how it should work. And lastly, we mention and have a little bit of fun daydreaming with the potential of barcode scanners on phones. As we signed off, we had a plea to carriers and ask for lower texting rates.

Some People Don’t Get It

We here at AndroidGuys keep a close eye on around 10-15 tech, gadget, and cellular sites as well as a couple of ‘blogs’ we like to cull information from. It always surprises us when a site we revere seems to miss the mark rather bad. We came across an article at TechCrunch today that totally will undoubtedly confuse readers. They’d have you believe that Android phones are already delayed. This is completely wrong. Nowhere else will you read this. The truth is, the 2nd version of the SDK is being delayed as is the deadline for the Android Developers Challenge. And that, friends, we reported last week.

Google’s Android mobile operating system is already hitting snags. It is not even out of the gate yet, and the software development kit that programmers need to create applications for Android is being pushed back a few weeks. Because of this delay, the deadline for the $10 million Android Developer’s Challenge is also being pushed back a month from March 3 to April 14.

We’re talking about a site that has 644,000+ readers. They’ve got a staff much bigger than ours and they’ve been to all the glitzy conferences and shows. Wouldn’t you think they owe it to their readers to fact-check something before posting it? It’s like they didn’t even read their own words or links.

I am beginning to have a hard time telling the difference between Google and Microsoft.

Trying to be inflammatory with remarks just to get a zing in on someone gives us a sense that these guys are pretending to be bigger than they really are. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not taking them out of our RSS reader (like one commenting visitor) just yet. We’ll still check back every few hours to see what they’ve got. Except, for a while, we’ll be very hesitant to report on something from them as ‘news’ as in the past. The part that bothers us the most is that they have so many readers who might not check the ‘facts’ presented there against other sources. This is a lesson we’ve learned to do very early on. C’mon TechCrunch, get your act together.

Rest assured, AndroidGuys will do all we can to prevent stuff like this from happening.