I Screaming for Ice Cream Sandwich
I Screaming for Ice Cream Sandwich
Ice Cream Sandwich is great in theory. Google will build the operating system, presumably called Android 2.4, with Honeycomb's 3D holographics, application fragments and other features. Great, but these features were designed specifically for the larger screen real estate of a tablet. How will they work on a smartphone, where the real estate is at best one half and in most cases one-third the size of a tablet screen? Moreover, has Google really solved Androids nagging version fragmentation problem with the development of Ice Cream Sandwich? Honeycomb 3.1 is on the Xoom and presumably coming to the Tab 10.1, 8.9 and other Android slates. Will smartphone versions of Android after Ice Cream Sandwich continue to include Honeycomb 3.x features? Will Google create a new Android arc for every new device that comes out? This could cripple the cluttered ecosystem developers are already grousing about.
Android Upgrade Initiative
Speaking of fragmentation concerns, Google announced the fill-in-the-blank coalition to make it easier for phone makers and carriers to get on the same page with regard to Android upgrades. Okay, it's not really called that, but we call it that because Google doesn't have a name for it yet! How can Android phone and tablet consumers put their faith in a nebulous coalition without a name, even if top carriers and phone makers are allegedly on board? Hugo Barra, vice president of Android product management, said these partners will be eligible for Android software updates 18 months into the future, provided the hardware allows for it. The fact that Google has to make an allowance for acceptable hardware is another warning sign.
Google TV Upgrade
Google TV is getting a Honeycomb upgrade later this summer. This is great news for the few who bought the system from Logitech or the TV and Blu-ray players from Sony. However, the touch interfaces on the existing applications from Logitech and Google to control Google TV are lousy. How long before Google creates a Google TV application that adequately replaces the clunky keyboard and other remote controls for the service? This application could approximate Google TV UI functionality on a Xoom or Galaxy Tab tablet, perhaps even on an iPad.
Google TV Apps
Google is also opening its Android Market to application developers who want to write programs for Google TV this summer. What will be the killer applications for Google TV that havent been created by a Googler? Will it be free and ad-supported or paid? Will the introduction of Google TV applications from the Android Market inspire more consumers to buy the product?
Android@Home includes an API that will let developers create applications. Google butters its bread by running ads on desktops, smartphones and tablets. But not every device running Android will have a screen. So how might Google monetize, say, a bank of home electronics? Will the technology be licensed to manufacturers, which in turn kick product sales back to Google? Will Google co-produce the Tungsten music hub and sell it? This is all very experimental, but the sky seems to be the limit.
Honestly, two years after rumors of this swirled and with no record label deals, does anyone care about a Google-branded music locker after a decade of Apple iTunes dominance?
Angry Birds on Chrome
Can one application ignite a trend toward greater Google Chrome Webstore adoption? Google hopes so. Angry Birds on Chrome has allegedly hit 1 million downloads. More popular applications will boost Chrome browser adoption, if not Chromebook adoption down the road.
Chromebooks from Samsung will cost $439 and $499 (with 3G radio). The Acer model is $349. Really? Who wants to pay netbook prices without the ability to run any on-premise applications? Shouldn't Google have subsidized these for consumers?
Chrome Aimed at Businesses
We believe the Google didn't want to subsidize consumer Chromebook purchases because it wants to push users to the business and education model, where Chromebooks will make more sense adopted by tech expert CIOs interested in saving money by going to the cloud. But recent history shows that technology takes off in the consumer space first, followed by enterprise adoption. Will Chromebooks spawn a reversal of the consumerization of IT to the professionalization of consumers? We doubt it, which is why we see Chromebooks playing well in businesses, but ignored by consumers in the near term.
Social, Where Art Thou?
Aside from a session on the Google +1 button, the search engine's social software efforts were MIA at Google I/O. The company had pledged not to do a major roll-out, going for a phased approach. But we want to know: if the +1 button isn't Google's main social piece, what is? Google investors are dying to know what magic formula Google is concocting to keep Facebook from eating its display ad, and ultimately, its social-search lunch.