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Tag Archives: Google android

Motorola’s Part Of Google — And Not Part Of It

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Motorola razr

Motorola’s a complex company, but for most of us, unless you’re in the networking business, it’s a phone manufacturer. That’s the part of the company known as Motorola Mobility, and it’s not actually a part of the company that belongs to Motorola at all. It was bought from them by, of all companies, Google. Motorola recently held a launch for its new range of RAZR Android phones. Android’s also a Google product, so it would seem pretty natural that Google would go all-out with its own “in-house” brand in terms of features and frills.

That’s not exactly what happened; while the two new phones — the Motorola RAZR HD and RAZR M — are nice in their own way, the way that Android’s been installed isn’t exactly a pure Google play in the way that “Google” devices such as the Nexus phones and Nexus 7 tablet are. That’s not to discount the RAZR HD or RAZR M particularly; they’ll be Telstra exclusives when they launch later in the year. A quick disclaimer: I travelled to the New York launch of both phones as a guest of Motorola. That out of the way, there’s a fair amount to like about both handsets; the design of the RAZR HD is a good jump ahead of last year’s rather flat RAZR, and the RAZR M particularly tickles my fancy as a smaller, yet still quite powerful Android handset. That’s a rarity in a market where the fastest underlying processors are often teamed up with massive screens that are admittedly easy on the eye, but often a pain in the pocket or purse. Both phones support 4G LTE and come with large batteries to help deal with the power drain that increased broadband speed often causes.

I asked Motorola’s senior vice president of product management Rick Osterloh about the ties between Google and Motorola, and his response indicated that while Google owns Motorola, it’s not looking to leverage it specifically with Android over and above any other Android-using competitor. Motorola’s going to go its own way with Android, and while the new phones don’t completely reskin the operating system the way some of Motorola’s competitors do, there’s still some room for improvement that Motorola may throw into its own phones.  That also makes a certain amount of sense from Google’s perspective, I suppose; if it “favoured” Motorola with faster updates or exclusive features, it would risk having other smartphone and tablet manufacturers such as Samsung, LG or Sony Mobile jump ship to competing platforms such as Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Phone 8.


2012's Technology Secrets

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As I’m writing this, the last few hours of 2011 are ticking away, taking with them one year while ushering in another. 2011’s been an interesting year in the technology world, with touch interfaces — whether on smartphones, tablets or touchscreen laptops and computers — a most notable feature that defined the consumer technology landscape. But what will 2012 bring us?

Any kind of prediction about the technology landscape is inevitably one that involves a certain amount of guesswork, and that means I could be hopelessly (or even haplessly) wrong with any kind of prediction that I make. With that caveat in mind, let’s jump headfirst into the crystal ball, taking a look at three industry heavyweights and how they might fare in 2012.

Apple gets first place in my tea leaf readings, purely on alphabetical grounds. Apple’s widely tipped to update its iPad, iPhone and Mac lines this year; those things are pretty inevitable simply from a marketing point of view. On the Mac front, new chipset availability will allow newer Mac models (the exact same thing is true on the PC front), and it doesn’t take a degree from the dubious institute-of-psychic-studies-that-I-just-made-up (established eight seconds ago) to suggest that new iPhones and iPads will see money flowing into Apple’s coffers. That kind of repeat business latest-model hype is exactly what Apple does, and based on previous years, that’s clearly what it’ll continue to do.

One rumour doing the rounds here at the moment is that Apple will unveil an “Apple” TV. Not to be confused with the small set top box that the company already sells, this would be an Apple branded TV set, hooked into the iTunes store for video delivery.

I doubt it. I strongly doubt it, although I wouldn’t be shocked to find out that Apple had prototyped such a thing; big IT companies go through lots of prototypes during research and development. The reason why I’m doubtful is that while it sounds good in theory (Apple has a content ecosystem in place, it does good industrial design and as yet nobody’s really “cracked” a good Smart TV), it ignores one of the factors that’s made Apple a whole lot of money in recent years — namely that it likes repeat business. People drop iPhones and iPads all over the place, and new features prompt some buyers to replace every year. Who replaces their TV every year? Almost nobody. A TV is a long-term prospect, and as such Apple would need lots of content to make its model of TV compelling. The existing Apple TV set top box already provides a gateway to its iTunes ecosystem for selling and renting content; I’d be less shocked to see, a say, LG-presents-TV-with-integrated-Apple-TV than a genuine Apple TV.

Next on the reading of the livers of unfortunate animals (and next in the alphabet) would be Google. Google’s likely to continue chipping away at many markets, essentially doing what Microsoft’s done for years; subsidising some products via the massive profits made from just a few. In Google’s case that’s largely search advertising, and it’s funded all sorts of acquisitions (some of which Google shuttered during 2011) and startup projects, most prominently Android-based smartphones and tablets. I suspect 2012 is the year we’ll see a “Google” Android tablet. Previously this could have been one built by another company — in the same way that Google’s own Android phones have been HTC and Samsung models respectively — but with Google having gobbled up Motorola in 2011, it could be an entirely in-house effort. Google’s own moves in the netbook space with its Chromebooks seems to have stalled for the moment, as has Google’ own TV ambitions; I’d be surprised if either made significant headway in Australia, if they ever make it here at all.

Last in my prognosticating list is Microsoft. While it’s not definite, it’s highly likely we’ll see Windows 8 emerge sometime in 2012, although I wouldn’t put a pin anywhere in the calendar before June if I were you. Windows 8 is clearly part of Microsoft’s strategy to more closely align all of its consumer IT properties, from smartphones to consoles to computers under one well understood interface, and it’ll be fascinating to see how well (and how quickly) Microsoft manages this. Its coffers are immense (as are its spending habits when it comes to both R&D and marketing) and it’s got an easy head start in terms of Windows existing place in the market; while big businesses will no doubt take a slow approach to the new operating system and everything it may offer, the push for individual users to bring their own devices (and increasingly laptops) into work may make Windows 8 a very rapidly adopted operating system indeed.


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