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Is the Force on the side of the Androids?

handy giff-staffer gaffer
handy giff-staffer
‎05-04-2011 15:27
‎05-04-2011 15:27

Back in September I wrote a blog about a low cost LG Android phone I’d bought  – the Optimus GT450.


At the time I was impressed by the features you could get for around £100 and predicted that such phones would really shake up the market – and also that Apple would have to launch a stripped down iPhone “nano” to compete.


Well, Apple are no doubt still working on the “nano” but Android really has gone from strength to strength – it fact it was announced today in a YouGov report that Android users in the UK now outnumber iPhone users.


I’ve continued to be impressed by “low end” android handsets – I’ve recently tried an Orange San Francisco and my latest phone – a Motorola Flip out.



Now the Flipout is a great phone if you want to stand out from the crowd – its square, with keyboard that literally flips out sideways.


It also has a trick up its sleeve that I’ve not seen anywhere else – a media player that looks up song lyrics and displays them in time with the music. Its a real gadget "wow" moment when you see it working for the first time - I promise you that every media player and iPod will do this in future.


But Andriod's Achilles heal is its creator's, Google, lack of control over what manufacturers and app developers do with the platform.


For instance, the Flipout runs on Android version 2.1. But Android 2.2 has lots of nice new features I’d like to use but will the Flipout ever get an upgrade to version 2.2? The signs are from Motorola that it won’t.


And what about all those apps I’ve subsequently downloaded – can I trust them? Well, it turns out I can’t.


Google don’t check each app as carefully as Apple – and dozens of them had to removed from the Android market because they were illegally collecting personal data.


So just like the inspiration for the Android logo, R2D2, this OS looks like it has a hidden, darker side underneath its cute outer skin.  And in a parallel to the films, it looks like being on the side of openness and freedom leaves you open to the corruption of evil forces.


Ultimately I think Google’s mobile toddler is a good thing, so let’s just hope that it has the Force on its side.


Update on 28/04/11


I discovered at the weekend that the Flipout definitely doesn't survive a dip in salt water. 


So am know looking for my next Andriod to try out....


is there anywhere you can buy giff gaff sims from without getting them sent



No sorry, its all done through the post so as to keep the costs down.

@agiffgaff If you order a SIM before 4pm, they usually arrive next day.

I got the LG GT540 also and i love it. The first thing i did with it was to upgrade to 2.1 But it seems its still not as good as it could be, android 2.2 is better but not compatible with the hardware of the optimus. Google need to make sure that their upgrades can be applied to all phones that run android, i'm now stuck without all the features that i could be using, notably the apps to sd card, i'm running out of phone memory fast with a huge sd card i can't use for apps!!


@crooky75: even if I accepted Google have any obligation to limit themselves to last years underspecced low end phones, in fact the only thing stopping you is LG's laziness and obstruction.


The 540 has enough ROM for Froyo or Gingerbread and enough RAM to run either passably well. I know that because your phone has more RAM than my G1 which has run Froyo and is currently limping along OK with Gingerbread - limping because I have 64Mb less RAM than you. LG have lied about 'insufficient hardware' to excuse not bothering.


I also know there's a buggy 2.2 ROM already available! Shouldn't be long before there's a build with a working camera. Just root the phone and get on with it and blame LG not Google.


...meanwhile.... I'd love a Flipout but buying a Motorola Android phone is dangerous. They aren't just lazy, they actively try to screw up hacking their phones. An Android phone you can't mod is a dead end.


probably when android 10.1 is out, android's market share would be 99.99%, at this rate (google's world domination plan going very smoothly i'd say)

handy giff-staffer gaffer
handy giff-staffer

@elemetodo - thanks for your link to the Business Week article - well worth a read...


@all those people delighted about the prospect of Android completely taking over the maket:


Be careful what you wish for.


Without competition, innovation slows dramatically. Android is about choice - choice of handsets, form factors, price points etc etc - but what about the choice of using another OS? Isn't that valuable too?

Apple was by no means the first to bring out a touchscreen phone, and Symbian had apps way before that. Apple made the offering viable to Joe Normal. Remember, we were on a mission to make phones smaller back then - now we have 4.3 inch phones readily available.


Hate Apple if you must, but be under no illusions they shaped the market as you see it today. The images of Android and prospective Android devices before iPhone were radically different to the G1. It looked more like a Blackberry.


Android WILL be the dominant OS (is that because it's free?) - but all this 'power to the people' stuff is a bit misplaced. Android is not the issue - as others have said, it's the manufacturers and networks who are crippling it's good intentions. Of course manufacturers are not going to make it easy to update your phone - they want you to buy the next one they bring out! HTC, Moto, Samsung etc have all made moves to lock/encrypt bootloaders and rec images. They say they are doing it for device security etc, and I can see their point. I wonder how many botched attempts at rooting have resulted in returned handsets?

However, in this case I think it's pretty straightforward: If you can't update your handset, you'll buy the next version. And that's that they're after.



trick202 wrote:

Without competition, innovation slows dramatically


Very good point - but every Android handset on the market now has a competitor: the last version of Android that's already in someone's pocket.  If the new version is not sufficiently innovative when compared to the old version then many people will choose not to upgrade - the same reasoning you used to explain the lack of vendor-approved software upgrades for existing handsets.


So even without competiton from other OS Google's customers (the device manufacturers) will still be demanding regular upgrades and innovation.  If they don't get it theyu will have to look elsewhere for their revenue.  Google (as far as I can see) makes money out of Android through the Marketplace and in-application advertising.  Without the ability to sell new devices the manufacturers are going to start looking at that business model, further fragmenting the market and eating into Google's revenue - different app markets for each manufacturer and perhaps there would be a certain music label that would license its content on one market but not the others?  I suspect Google will wish to avoid that.


So in conclusion I think Android will always have competion - from the last version of Android, if nowhere else.  Just like Office 2010's biggest competitor is Office 2007.



Lets not forget Amazons appstore for Android phones, which vets applications for security deficiencies!