Firefox OS to have speedy release cycle

Firefox OS: CC image courtesy of Kārlis Dambrāns on Flickr.

Firefox OS: CC image courtesy of Kārlis Dambrāns on Flickr.

Just like their popular browser, it appears that Mozilla will impose a similar speedy release cycle on their Firefox OS. According to a Tech Radar article, Mozilla's Manager of Release Management, Alex Keybol, "promised significant quarterly updates to the Firefox mobile OS" - with security updates coming every six-weeks.

Mozilla's goal is to outdo its competitors in one area specifically - emerging markets. Firefox OS is scheduled to be released in 16 countries this year, though it will not be coming to the UK or US until 2014. This is not surprising since those markets are already saturated by Android and iOS. Mozilla will likely only move into the US and UK once Firefox OS gains traction the developing world - the reverse strategy of Google and Apple.  


Apple and Google make gains in US, Android still dominant globally

iOS and Android armies: CC Image courtesy of Nerds on Call on Flickr. 

iOS and Android armies: CC Image courtesy of Nerds on Call on Flickr. 

The mobile sphere is never boring thanks to the fierce competition. There are some important updates in the mobile OS market today. 

Greg Sterling, writing in Marketing Land, reports the latest news from comScore regarding the US mobile market. Apparently, 59 percent of American cellphone subscribers own a smartphone - with Pew and Nielsen reporting numbers as high as 61 percent. Apple is still the top phone maker, with Samsung coming in second. Android claimed the top spot for a mobile OS, with Apple in second place. Both Apple and Android saw gains during the quarter, but HTC, Motorola, and LG all lost market share.


Top OEMs

Top platforms

Platform marketshare does not reflect mobile browser usage, however. Below is a breakdown of usage among all the major platforms in the US for the same quarter.

  • iOS: 54 percent
  • Android: 40 percent
  • BlackBerry: 2.2 percent
  • Windows Phone: 1.2 percent
  • Other: 2.6 percent

Apple Insider reported that the iPhone 5 accounted for a whopping 75% of all 4G (aka LTE) web traffic in the US and Canada for "newer" smartphones.

Globally, Android seems to be dominating, which will not help their anti-trust search case in Europe, says Ingrid Lunden writing in Tech Crunch. 

Google-powered smartphones, running Android, accounted for more than 70% of sales in the region’s five biggest markets of Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain — part of a wider, global trend of Android continuing to consolidate its leadership position in smartphones
Although smartphone penetration is slowing down in developed markets like Europe, Android’s does not appear to be: that 70.4% of sales is nearly 10 percentage points higher than it was a year ago (61.3% in the three months that ended May 31, 2012).

These figures come from the consultancy firm Kantar. However, the figures do not differentiate between Android variants - namely forked devices that do not have access to the Google play store and ecosystem. 

More information on US and global mobile market share in the sources below.

An Android for "low-end" phones

It's possible that Android will be put on a "crash diet." Jeff Chiu, writing in Quartz, says that Google might try to drastically reduce the hardware requirements for its newest OS (codename Key Lime Pie), to better position itself in emerging markets. Doing so would also help reduce the level of fragmentation present on the platform.

The result would be a version of Android that requires just 512 megabytes of memory (RAM). That’s half as much as the current version of Android needs. Since early 2012, many owners of older Android phones have been unable to upgrade to the current version of Android because their devices have too little memory. That’s one reason Android is so infamously “fragmented,” with the majority of Android phones in the world currently running on “Gingerbread,” a version of the operating system that was first released in 2010.

Link to the full article in the source below. 

Minimal, colourful, flat.

iOS7 Control Center

iOS7 Multitasking

With their announcement of iOS7 on Monday, Apple has embraced a flat and minimalistic user interface, which has been long touted by Android and Window Phone. 

John Koetsier (of Venture Beat) writes about the changes in iOS7, and compares them to Apple's past design choices.

The latest version of iOS is the culmination of Apple’s six-year journey with iPhone, and that journey mirrors the changes that successfully brought Apple back from the brink of death in the late 1990s. The product that saved Apple was the iMac, and Steve Jobs threw it like a grenade into the the computer industry. Where the industry was grey, iMac was color. Where the industry was separate pieces wired together, iMac was unified and singular. Where the industry was opaque, iMac was translucent. 
But the original iMac was also a little childish — a little young — before it became the singular objét d’art that it is today. And like iMac’s 15-year transition from fruity to elegant, iOS has now crossed the user interface Rubicon from Microsoft Bob to the Bauhaus — from decoration to design.
Versions 1 through 6 were Apple’s mobile juvenilia; iOS 7 is Apple at the zenith of its design zen.

Koetsier's summary is quite excellent. Check out his full article in the link bellow.


Usage vs marketshare

Despite losing considerable marketshare to Android, iPhone (and iPad) dominate mobile internet usage - a key factor in Apple's continued success according to Brain S. Hall, of Read Write Web.

iPhone 4: CC Image courtesy of William Hook on Flickr

iPhone 4: CC Image courtesy of William Hook on Flickr

A new study, this one by Experian, shows again that when it comes to actual usage, iPhone handily beats Android, with iPhone users spending an average of 26 more minutes each day on their devices. Android users use their devices 49 minutes per day - for iPhone users, that figure is 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Hall notes that it is not clear why Apple retains this lead. (Other technology journalists have argued that Apple users, due to their higher income bracket, spend more money on apps and conduct more e-commerce transactions). Nevertheless, Apple's lead is substantial.

...that 26 minutes per day adds up to 3 hours a week, 156 hours a year - the rough equivalent of a full month of regular workdays for every user. That difference is critical in many ways, helping Apple continue to attract carriers and developers to its platform - and helps make its higher prices more palatable to consumers. 
For carriers, the iPhone's advantage in engagement makes it more valuable: more usage = more bandwidth = higher revenues. That will help Apple continue to hold carriers hostage to its hefty subsidy demands. 

In addition, iPhone users spend more time emailing, texting, using social media, and taking photographs than Android users. This lead reinforces Apple CEO Tim Cook's statement (at the D-11 conference) that "winning, for us, has never been about making the most."

Android and iOS mobile usage.

5 pillars of mobile design: Luke Wroblewski

In a Mashable article, Grace Smith interviews design guru Luke Wroblewski (former Chief Design Architect at Yahoo and founder of BagCheck).

Designing for mobile has evolved dramatically. Users now expect fast, immersive mobile experiences, and catering to this is increasingly difficult.
When Luke Wroblewski introduced the concept of Mobile First more than four years ago, it radically changed how we approach design. According to him, the reason was threefold:
"It was clear mobile use was going to take over; designing for mobile pushed you to better and simpler designs because of constraints like small screens and slow networks; and last but not least, mobile devices had capabilities like multi-touch and location detection that allowed you to create new kinds of experiences."

Wroblewski outlines five pillars of mobile design, focusing on the importance of a fast user experience, engagement with users, designing specifically for mobile, enforcing constraints, and the importance of taps. 

Everyone can succeed in mobile

Mobile traffic still only makes up 15% of all worldwide Internet traffic. That is less than one-sixth of all time spent on the Internet.

This was reported by analyst Mary Meeker at the D-11 conference. It is clear that mobile, though the most important technology sector, still has a long way to go.

Mobile Traffic as a Percent of Global Internet Traffic

Dan Rowinsky, of Read Write Web, summarizes Meeker's report.

We are currently in Year 6 of the Mobile Revolution (if we date the start of mass smartphone acceptance to the release of the original iPhone in July 2007). According to Meeker’s report, there are 1.5 billion smartphones users in the world, or about a 21% penetration rate of mobile users. Compared to the nearly 5 billion global cellphone users, smartphones still have a long road to climb. Believe it or not, in the big picture, smartphones are still in the early stages of adoption.

Smartphone usage

Rowinsky also points out that mobile is unique, insofar that it's such a large pie that nearly every player has the chance to succeed.

If there is really a remaining battle in the Smartphone Wars, it has less to do with Apple vs. Google vs. Microsoft vs. BlackBerry and more to do with the race to connect the rest of the world to the Internet through mobile. The company that can best figure out how to solve that diverse and complex global problem will be in a great position to succeed for the decade to come.


Android, the future home of open source

GNU logo

Matt Asay, of Read Write, predicts Android will be the preferred home for open source developers in the future. According to data from Black Duck software, "new Android-related mobile open-source projects outstripped open source iOS projects by a factor of four in 2012, growing by more than 96% each year since 2007. New iOS project growth, on the other hand, was just 32% from 2011 to 2012."

Developers have historically favoured Apple's iOS due to its superior developer tools and monetization. This shift toward Android should be concerning to Apple, as it might suggest open-source developers are beginning to view Android as a better platform for launching new innovative apps.

Check out Matt Asay's article below.