Is Google To Blame For The Android Fork Up?

Recently, Amazon launched the Kindle fire . Also confirmed is that the kindle Fire would be running Amazon’s own version of Android which will be fully customised to integrate with Amazon’s services. And of course – their own App Store.

Dear friends, Jeff Bezo’s Amazon has just forked Android! Amazon is not the only company forking with Android, Baidu is too. I think that is a big blow to Google’s mobile strategy,

A little background

In the early days of Android, companies like Motorola and Samsung bet their future on Android, in return for getting a ‘free’ OS which would compete with the iPhone’s. In return for the free OS they distributed Google’s services around the globe. Note: You cannot use an Android phone without a Google email account and all the services that come with it.

When the Android OS alliance was launched, Eric Schimdt said

"this will be the first fully-integrated software stack, including an operating system and middleware, being made available under the most liberal open-source license ever given to mobile operators and handset makers"

Although looking back, that statement seems technically correct (most liberal does not necessarily mean liberal, but relatively more/most liberal), handset manufacturers were soon to find out Android is not really that open.

I have always been skeptical of Google’s selfless and open initiatives. Google has this strategy (a very good one I concede) of making things free (read: lowering competitiveness of their opponents) only when they are behind. Here is an idea Larry and Sergey about being really open, can we open source the Google search algorithm? 🙂

This time around Android, I think this strategy has backfired.

The Android Fork up.

As time progressed, big hardware manufacturers realised that Android is open in a different way. It is only after a new version of Android has launched that you would have a chance to peek in. That might be ok for entities like Cyanogen mod, but not for companies that want to be at the bleeding edge, when you have companies like Apple pacing away.

Of recent, Google Android and some of its partners have been getting challenged quite a bit with patent issues. HTC is fighting Apple in various courts around the world while Samsung cannot sell their 10.1 tablet in Europe.

In the spirit of "protecting Android", Google has had to fork out (pun intended) $12.5 billion to buy the Mobile arm of Motorola, inadvertently competing directly with their partners. The CEO’s of their partner companies were so pleased with this move that they said the same thing when it was announced.

(Side Note: If Android was open why didn’t contributors and beneficiaries pool their patents? Why is it left to Google to foot the entire bill of the ‘Android defense? I guess they are really nice guys)

Now with Amazon and Baidu opening the way, I predict other companies will start forking Android left, right and center. I tip Samsung to be the next.

What this fork up might mean:

For Google: Initially, the ‘Free and Open’ strategy made sense. They could offset the cost of developing the Android OS with the money from ad’s (getting people to use Google services and displaying ad’s there) however, these forks have messed that plan up. Both Baidu and Amazon are stripping the OS from those Google applications that normally come with the Android phone. Now Google may have to pay if they want to have their search and other apps default. In the case of Baidu a search engine, the response will be LOLZ .

For Developers and Users: Presently, It seems the same Android apps run on all the different forks of Android, however, How long will it last? I predict that by a maximum of 3 versions away we would start seeing serious compatibility problems with apps. Which inadvertently means different OS’s

I am guessing this gives Microsoft an edge the down the line, to be the second most reliable OS to develop for after Apple’s. Overall, I think the good that might come out of these forking problems is that the web would be the most reliable platform for the delivery of web application services via HTML5.

So is Google’s Chrome a fall back strategy? The Gmail Chome App is done pretty well and Chrome Remote Desktop gives a glimpse of what the Chome OS can be.

Those smart chaps!

Thanks to June for helping me edit this post.

Great Expectations: My iPad Disappointment and Why it Won’t be a Runaway Success!

The iPad is the latest device introduced by Steve Jobs of Apple computers and it is billed to change the computing world forever! This post is about why I am disappointed in the product and why it will not be as successful as the iPod and iPhone were for Apple.



The hype around Apple’s Tablet (as it was called then)  was unimaginable and the coverage was deafening! All bloggers turned detective, they investigated the Who Is (record of the owner) of every i whateveryouputhere domain. Someone even suggested Apple owned the trademark of iSlam. Every acquisition Apple made since 1990 was related to the new technology that would be in the Tablet. It was also  said to have been work on for years (Avatar movie kind of talk).  ‘Apple’s Tablet’ was billed as the most important tablet since Moses brought the commandments from mount Sinai! There were almost as many posts complaining about the coverage of Apples Tablet as the the ones doing the covering. I did not bulge, i was not carried away! All that changed was when I read the quote attributed to Steve Jobs

This will be the most important thing I have ever done in my life

A statement like this coming from the man that delivered the iPod and the iPhone, I was determined to be a part of history! I ensured Ii would follow it live. The Twitterverse was feverish, less important things like Obama’s state of the Union address was put aside. Even the Haiti crisis was demoted as the number one Trending topic (a position it held since the earthquake on the 12th).

Then the moment came, first, the name iPad was revealed (with quite muted cheers), then the product! It was obvious people were not ecstatic. When the first feature Steve Jobs talks about in a product is you can change the wallpaper then you know we have a problem. As inferred from Eric Schmidt’s comment when asked about the tablet, the iPad is nothing more than a big iPhone iPod touch at least the iPhone can make calls, has 3G, a camera and much more. The product Steve Jobs revealed though a very cool and useful product, is not groundbreaking or innovative. It is not worth the hype. It is almost in the same magnitude of the leap made from the iPod to the iPod touch. at least the iPod touch can be used for gaming!

I am really disappointed! and I am not the only one


A summary of my theory is  that this time around, Apple did not catch the competition unawares like it did with the iPod and does not have the first mover advantage it had with the iPhone. I’ll explain below.

1. Lack of ‘basic’ features

My fist reason to why it won’t sell well is there are too many things that the iPad does not have! A camera, USB port, Memory card reader (there are are are expensive propriety adaptors), it does not run flash and much more. I think that is a problem. People keep mentioning that the iPhone had several defects when it was released, but this is way different! The with the iPhone, the competition caught off guard! But right now, there are so many tablets in the market! there is  even one called Juju. and there are more coming. The first mover advantage the iPhone had is non existent. What the iPad has only done is to validate the market for other manufacturers to take it serious. a second point to this first reason is a lot of people who just love Apple will wait for version iPad2 when Apple will make the sought after additions.

2. The closed nature of the iPad.

Apple determines what you can do with your device. For example, Apple has decreed you cannot use flash with your tablet therefore forget about playing Mafia Wars and Farmville on it. Yeah, those videos you see online are run by flash too. You can only watch YouTube only because “there is an app for that”. I guarantee that other slates/tablets in the market will allow you do what ever you want with your device.

3. The Android platform as the iPad ‘killer’.

The awe of the iPhone is/was its usability and interface, i.e the operating system. It made people use phones in ways they never thought possible. It is for this reason people ignored that the first iPhone did not have copy and paste and could not do MMS (and it was a smart phone). People had no other choice so if you wanted a good Smartphone, it had to be the iPhone…until the Android OS came. The Android OS can essentially do what the iPhone OS can do and this is main problem for the iPad. Any good manufacturer can now focus on creating beautiful hardware then go ahead and install the FREE Android OS. Consumers will then be FREE to choose any device in what ever shape while enjoying the. Watch out for HTC entering the tablet/slate market having delivered on the Nexus One remember the iPad is just a bigger iPod touch/IPhone.

A major defence that Apple proponents bring up is the 140,000 apps in the iPhone appstore which can automatically work on the iPad: Apple having this number of Apps is no advantage. If my Pareto analysis is is accurate like it should be, then it is 20% of those apps that account for 80% of the downloads. Those ‘important’ 20% are available in the Android market.


Will the iPad be another Apple TV? No. But it will be no where as successful as the iPhone but more popular than Macbooks. Just as jobs positioned the iPad (a product between the phone and the Computer)

Where will that leave Netbooks? I think they are dead! Steve Jobs says Netbooks are not better at anything and he is right!


  1. The computer state e.g Apple’s iPad will be a VERY successful product line. But this time around, apple will not dominate the market like it did with the iPod/iPhone
  2. I am expecting the iPad to be ‘upgraded’ before it ships.
  3. I do not have any idea where the Chrome OS comes in. Netbooks are dead!
  4. I am hoping Palm can do something here. The WebOS looks too beautiful and perfect of a slate.