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Google purchased the initial developer of the software, Android Inc., in 2005. The unveiling of the Android distribution in 2007 was announced with the founding of the Open Handset Alliance and by 2014 i predict the Android OS as we know it will be dead and buried.
Why do i make these claims? Am just another IOS/Apple fanboy looking for Linkbait? Have i lost the plot?
Firstly lets dispel that Fanboy tag, I have Apple Kit, i work on Linux OS’s, I deal with Android, Blackberry and many other technologies daily I do like Apples hardware, i do hate their need to control so much.
Why do i feel so strongly about this? for the following reasons
No standards based Enterprise Solution
We have recently at work been looking into the world of Android, and as a Sysadmin i’ve been looking at the potential of getting these devices into the hands of our teams for usage on a daily basis. Immediacy i was struck as just how poor the offerings are for Mobile Device Management, they are truly just slapdash strung together bits of software under ropey interfaces which perform a small selection of tasks but now what I really need under a single umbrella. Sure I can manage my emails, i can remote wipe a device (which in many cases needs to be attached to my network to do it) I can even in one case setup my own app store and control what apps are available to my staff. However none of the players out there Good, Symantec even Cisco are interested in anything other than adding another corporate enterprise application for me to manage alongside my BES, AD, Linux add to list.. Systems..
Android has a stigma attached to it by the people who write the cheques, sure it’s a pretty green robot, and has silly names like IceCream sandwich, not Android 188.8.131.52.1 but we can work round that. When the telegraph or times runs a commentary in that glossy magazine about “ANDROID MALWARE CAN EAT YOUR BABIES” or some other such link bait title that sticks. Even if most of the comments are unfounded. However when the big boys get paid writers to fill sunday morning or train journey read periodicals with stories like this the mud sticks. Google can clean up their act and do the right thing, perception is a hard thing to break..
Terribly Documented OS
Even for those companies who do want ot create slick, expensive corporate apps for Android by all accounts the low level documentation is non existand for the platform. I’ve worked with Linux for years and some of the nuts and bolts linux docs are ropey however I’m told by people in the know and who do this stuff for a living trying to find out what is really going on under the hood during that investigation phase of development prior to investing thousands into the kits with the docs is almost impossible prior to that investment.
If you want to create an app which works today on every possible Android device you don’t just need to create an app which works on the OS versions from 2.2 to 4.1 you need to work on around 400 different testable configurations of OS, Chipset, screen size and device.
Also due to the low running cost of the OS, even if your app works fine and well on a Samsung or ASUS $499 tablet there are plenty of sub £150 tablets arriving from the far east every day which it will fall over on but are advertised as Android so expected to work.
Lack of serious business offering
Right now, the only commercially viable Android Tablet offering i’m aware of is the Asus Transformer Prime 201/301. It’s got a nice spec Tegra 3 chipset, a keyboard/mouse, up to 20hrs of battery life. All good so far, it looks shiny, it’s lightweight, 32Gb ram and we are away to go?
Not quite, in the UK it’s wifi only, that may be world wide, so you’re out of the office and immediately cut off, no 3G offering.
Head over to the big mobile telcos and take a Gander at the 3G offerings on 2 year contracts and you have the Motorola Xoom, introduced atCES 2011 on January 5, 2011 so it’s over 12 months old and you’ll ger stuck with a 24 month contract for something less than a third of the spec’s of that Asus, same with the Samsung devices..
Companies need power, portability, security and usability fail on any one of those 4 and you’ve lost. Nothing out there passes on all 4 yet.
It’s a toy..
Yes they are right, Android is a great phone OS, however in the Tablet world, it’s just a shiny toy. sure we have to deal with it because the bean counters think BYOD is the bees knees.. Just wait till they get the IT overtime bill and infrastructure costs for all 300 devices we didn’t have to buy but still have to support because we locked down Dan in accountings Android and now he can’t load Angry Birds on..
Why is it too late?
Android has been around long enough to get a foot hold in the corporate world, so have IOS however the big boy is entering the arena within 12 months and even if its the biggest most useless version of Windows since Windows ME.. It is going to sell in the millions, raise loads of capital, support the enterprise from day one and engulf the business world.
Google have wasted time not cleaning up the Market place, sorry Google Play area, sounds like something you can sell to the CFO? “you get your sage accounts app from Google play…” listens for crickets.
Google have not locked down a minimum spec for an Android device so there are hundreds of cheap taiwanese knock offs out there.. limited power, blah blah blah…
Google have been doing nothing to really assist the whole tablet market place for one simple reason.. I don’t believe they are interested in it..
I firmly believe that Google see Android for just what it is a Phone OS, in googles eyes people have been shoehorning Android on Tablets, doing well in the consumer sector but long term they are not interested in this because they are investing thier time in something else.
The latest release Aura untethered the OS from its roots in the web browser and make it more like a traditional OS with icons and the like however the recent shift of the team behind WebOS merging with what comes out of Android 5.0 or 6.0 and some decent back end work could jumpstart ChromeOS as a new Tablet OS..
However with Microsoft hedging its bets on Windows RT on the Arm platform, and getting enough enterprise apps out for that. Office for IOS being continually rumoured on the iPad (which has similar issues to Android for MDM) the market is going to change int he next two years as companies realise what it is they want to do on their mobile devices and by the end of it Android will be Opensourced off and let free, Google Chrome will be a defined business and serious user platform (with some help from the WebOS and Android OS’s ) with a back end based on RIM’s BES style of Tech after they buy them at the end of the year and we can all start worrying about which headset our CEO needs to do his computing on..