It has been a big week for mobile industry news, at least for everyone but Apple. As WWDC 2013 swiftly approaches, it seems as though Apple’s competitors are working hard to stir up some buzz that could hopefully dull out some of the annual September Apple hype. Here is a brief roundup of some of the biggest mobile announcements of this week.
Put Your Fork Down, No Key Lime Pie for You
Google loves to keep the tech industry on their toes. Over the last couple of years, the mobile marketplace has gotten pretty good about predicting the annual Android OS releases, right down to the month, speculated feature set and dessert-themed name. Everyone was poised and ready for the announcement of Key Lime Pie, then rumored to be the next Android OS version, at Google I/O in May of this year. It was then thatGoogle pulled their first fake out of the year, instead announcing a measly update to Jelly Bean (4.2). The company’s restraint was actually quite exciting for me as it gave me hope that perhaps eventually the Android fragmentation problem will be a worry of the past. The real surprise came earlier this week when Google randomly announced the upcoming release of KitKat (not Key Lime Pie as suspected) along with a cobranded campaign with famous candy maker Nestle.
Though the release date has not yet been announced, the Internet is already exploding with speculation about what the partnership will mean for the new OS. Chocolate colored menu bars? Crunchy button sounds? KitKat’s famous “Gimme a Break” theme song ringtone?! Probably none of those things, but time will tell, my friends.
In other Android news, the updated OS distribution dashboard on the Android Developer site is missing two familiar old friends: Donut and Éclair. To be fair, these two tasty treats have both been hovering below five percent of the marketplace (Donut at 0.1%) for over a year now. My prediction is that Froyo and Honeycomb will also get the ax in the next couple months. Is Android fragmentation about to be ancient history? Not yet, but things are certainly looking better. Jelly Bean was able to finally take down Gingerbread in July by a narrow margin but has been pulling away at an impressive pace ever since. By next month I assume that Jelly Bean (4.1 and 4.2 together) will be running on 50% of Android smartphones…just in time for KitKat to jump in and ruin everything. I foresee Jelly Bean continuing to gain momentum even after the KitKat release, further pushing Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich out of the spotlight. If KitKat follows in the footsteps of Jelly Bean, it will be a full year before the new chocolaty OS dominates the Android market.
Microsoft Buys Nokia for Lots of Money. Lots.
Earlier this week, Microsoft took a very bold step in their strategy to jump into the smart device market by acquiring Nokia’s handset business for 5.4 billion Euros ($7.2 B). The two companies have been in a close partnership for a long while now, both battling tooth and nail to compete with Google and Apple’s mobile empires. The acquisition essentially fast tracks Microsoft’s path to innovative smart devices on par with Apple; more control with in-house device design that supports the company’s Windows mobile OS’. Since the acquisition Nokia’s stock has experienced an exciting jump, while Microsoft’s has dipped in turn.
Inspector Gadget Predicted Galaxy Gear in the 80’s
Samsung finally joined the ranks of Google, Apple, Sony and Pebble by validating months of rumors and leaks about a new smart watch thingermabob. Galaxy Gear, as the watch is called, is basically Penny’s watch from Inspector Gadget: a giant screen with photo and video capabilities, a couple of buttons and voice calling capabilities. The watch must be Bluetooth tethered to another Samsung Galaxy device in order to tap into all the smartphone capabilities such as weather, time and eventually an array of apps like eBay, Evernote and RunKeeper. I personally cannot ever see myself wearing one of these watches, partially because the design is extremely masculine. I assume that Samsung will eventually release some smaller variations of the Gear so that ladies with wrists like mine don’t feel like they are wearing a Galaxy Note on their arm.