Sunday, 18 September 2016

Iphone Day

Iphone day is a moveable annual feast where Apple believers gather at stores worldwide to buy the latest model. Although these days we have the Internet so people should be able to order from home and have it delivered there is a special need for Apple fans to come together. Almost like religious belief.

The new Apple iphone 7 Plus comes in at $749 although this price is masked by the monthly payment plans. In the UK the price has risen due to post Brexit falls in the value of the pound, However mere money wont get in the way of the true believer.

This iphone is not mush more than it’s predecessor. It is always, in the words of Apple, “the best iphone ever”, but it reflects a maturing of the market. The 2007 iphone was revolutionary and made the most important personal computer one you could carry in your hand. The apps ecosystem and the the marketing power Apple had over phone carriers forced combined voice, sms and data plans into affordable tariffs.

We are now 9 years into the iphone revolution and almost everyone who wants, and can afford, iphone in the west has got one. Older iphones are used as “hand me down” phones in families further diluting the market. Apple has quietly upped the spec of less well selling products such as ipad and Apple Watch as well as reducing prices. Its also noticeable that Apple is no longer going to give the number of phones sold on the first weekend as it has every other year. You could just think cynically that Apple dont want to announce because sales are going down but I think the market is simply maturing and iphone is now an evolutionary product rather than revolution.

The annual Apple Day seems now to be something for fans and part of the marketing process. Buyers who need an iphone now should order online. If they want an in-store experience of enjoying shiny new things then wait a few weeks and pop in to feel the love. Queuing in the rain seems something for the fanboys.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Nougat feast

If you are in the IT world and you hear Kitkat, Marshmallow and Nougat you will think Google.

These are all versions of the Android mobile operating system. Android is now on 80% of the world's mobile phones. Huge market share when compared to Apple iPhone, Blackberry and Windowsphone. Blackberry now sell "secure" Android phones. Which should tell you something about Android "security".

Apple do well out of iphone as a premium device that makes a lot of money. Microsoft have now integrated Windows 10 so much into all their products that Windows 10 Mobile is now just a compiler switch and costs next to nothing to produce. Microsoft just produce a couple of reference models now and rely on partners to make Windowsphone with no license fees for devices below 8 inch screens. Basically free.

Google is in a different position. Android is free. There are literally thousands of Android variants and you can pick up a tablet for very little cash. Google have partners that make Google branded phones once a year but most Android phones are not Google. Google earns money from advertising and the Play Store. Microsoft gets the most money from Android directly because of the Microsoft technology in Android. Microsoft makes an estimated $2 billion per year from Android.

Saying Android's success is a Microsoft success sounds daft but financially it's true!

Android's numeric success has led to thousands of compilations of Android and thousands of versions. The only real benchmark has been the regularly updated Google Nexus devices which reviewers praise for running "stock Android". Google themselves have switched between HTC and LG as manufacturers.

As a result the first upgraders to Android Nougat will be Nexus owners. Then it's up to the other manufacturers to send it out. Samsung are often pretty good just being a few months behind.

For the phone carriers upgrading and security patches are not that important. What they want to do is sell a new phone. They would rather you bought a product every couple of years than do software upgrades, unlock your phone and go to a sim only contract. For this reason Google like their unlocked phones and do their updates over wifi.

There is so much money in Apple that carriers dont delay an Apple update. Also Apple news quickly gets to Apple owners. Not so much for Android. IT Pros will be flashing roms, customising etc but this will by pass the great mass of purchasers. They will just stick with their 2013 copy of Android Kitkat (4.4) unless they get an onscreen prompt to update. If they go into a store they get offered a Samsung, HTC or Sony device.

On the eve of Android Nougat (7.0) we find 30% of Android users are still on version 4.4. If apps want to take advantage of 7.0 features at least 30% of the audience is excluded. The success of Android OS and it's lack of central control means many users are actually using old software versions and potentially subject to security vulnerabilities. Market dominance has it's price.

This is the same position that Microsoft found itself when it had 94% of the PC market. Microsoft developed a patch and update policy. Google hasn't and cant because of the diversity of Android.

So it's with some sense of irony that Microsoft's Windowsphone, with little market share, now running Windows 10 Mobile is being updated almost monthly using the same technique as the PC update strategy. Arguably this makes Windowsphone the most secure and most updated of any mobile OS and most suitable for non-IT Pros. Funny thing that.