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  1.    #1  
    I've been thinking about the mobile phone market and wondering where it will go. I think there have been two significant events recently. One was the release of Google's 'Pixel' phones and the other was Samsung's problems with the Note phone batteries. We know that the latter will be a significant hit to Samsung's bottom line and also that Samsung is apparently the only manufacturer that makes any serious profit from mobile phones aside from Apple (Google obviously earns via Android and services). For a while, Samsung has nurtured the Tizen system as insurance against Google exerting too much control over Android and now it seems that the 'Pixel' is a step towards the Apple model of integrating hardware and software. The Nexus range were devices that were largely produced by various manufacturers in consultation with Google. They were offered at good value prices and ran stock Android. In a way, they were reference devices and showcases for how Google thought Android should work. They received regular and long term updates. Being 'rootable', they also could be used as development devices and even run other systems such as LuneOS. It seems that the Nexus project is no more.

    The Pixel devices are apparently made by HTC, but with greater direction from Google - as if HTC is performing the role that Foxconn does for Apple: Implementing their design. The components seem to be higher end than the Nexus devices (which weren't bad and were good for the price). The prices also seem to reflect the general market for this kind of spec. I'm not clear if Pixel devices can be rooted, but it's likely they will receive regular and long term updates, probably independent of carriers and will of course, run stock Android.

    For Samsung, the note battery situation is a (non-lethal) disaster and it's likely this whole popular sub-brand will be killed to protect the other phones ranges and Samsung itself. While hurting from this, how is Samsung likely to react to Google's Pixel move? And what about other manufacturers who are in even more precarious postitions in terms of profit from the mobile sector? Are hardware manufacturers destined to become mere subcontractors for Google & Apple and will our choices come down to those companies only? Or will Samsung (and others?) attempt to break out from Google by offering their own solutions such as Tizen?

    I think this may be a time where the market either consolidates to two incumbents or gets a shake up. In other words, things are about to get boring or very interesting. For fun, let's pretend it's the latter. What's out there and what chances does it have? Here is a list*:
    • Android
    • BB10
    • Cyanogenmod (and other AOSP things)
    • FirefoxOS
    • iOS
    • SailfishOS
    • Tizen
    • Ubuntu
    • Windows Phone

    You'll notice there's one missing there. LG may do something with their webOS, but as far as I know, there is no current mobile webOS (forget the watch!). Discussion of LuneOS is for another thread. Personally, I've not used most of the above and hardly touched the obvious ones: Android & iOS. I'd like to read the experiences of those who have.

    What I'm interested in is:
    1. What are these systems like to use, compared to webOS?
    2. If there's a shake up, what do you think will happen?
    3. What system(s) has a chance and why? (I'm not talking about technical quality only, but also the market power of the players)
    4. Something left-field may happen like phones die and we all end up using watches or smart clothing. Throw that in if you think it's plausible.

    *Some of these can be considered 'dead' or 'zombie' OSes like webOS, but all are (or were recently) current and could be revived fairly easily. If I've missed anything that is more than a hacker project and may have some traction, let me know.
    Last edited by Preemptive; 10/24/2016 at 05:56 AM.
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  2. #2  
    Personally I expect things to become very boring. Why? - Because there hasn't been any real innovation in the mobile market for the last - almost - ten years. Let me try to explain:

    The first iPhone - though highly influential - was not an innovative device. It had three design-decisions that made it stand out, and affected every other design decision: 1. looks over battery-time, 2. multi-touch (which Apple at the time claimed it patented, but was neither invented by them, nor exclusively bought), and 3. the internet was essential. If you compare the OS of the first iPhone to a Palm PDA like the TX you have a mostly similar design; being centered around a grid of apps. Unlike all smartphones at the time (the iPhone 1 was not a smartphone but a featurephone) it did not have any apps (which the exception of some webapps where you need to be connected to the server all the time). It also had specifically a focus NOT on being a phone (and had worse reception than any other phone at the time). The first iPhone as a multimedia device that doubled as a phone with bad battery life, limited features, but a bright and shiney look. Other smartphones at the time were exactly the other way around. But let's be honest: looks sell, and few people at the time knew the power (and usefulness) of real smartphones.

    Being so influential, however, caused all other phone-makers to adopt Apple's design-decisions. And while Steve Jobs said at the iPhone's introduction that they were five years ahead of the competition, in reality the only thing that really distinguished them was the decision that battery-time was unimportant. And with that notion every other company could create their version of this concept.

    Most innovations that we've seen in the phone-market came not from the large companies (Apple, Google), but from small third-parties that were bought. Other than that, most features are focused on adding features not usefulness, and the common OS's have become bloatware for years.

    And that brings me to the question: can the Duopoly be broken? - Maybe. But in my opinion the way to do it is to not make a phone at all. Now let me first say that a few months ago I got my first mobile phone through work, and I really don't know what the fuzz is about. I have used PDA's in the past, and I understand the fun of apps, but the idea of always-on-call, always-online or even the internet-of-things simply doesn't appeal to me. That being said, I really believe that the only way to get into the phone market is by not building a phone at all. Apple did this correctly with their first iPhone: they build a multi-media device that could also make phone calls (and then they stupidly called it a phone).To break the mold one has to create a device that is focused on a specific task, and work from there. The risk of this is, that people will ask the question: why should I carry another device if I already have one that can do this and more?

    So the focus-area - in my opinion - should be communication. So we're not making a phone, but a communication-device. Making phone calls just happens to be one of the ways you can communicatie. The device should not be sold (primarily) through phone companies, a SIM card should not be required (especially with more and more open WIFI networks in cities), but should be an option to the user. This same approach should also break away from apps as much as possible, since the goal of the user is not to send someone a message through WhatsApp, but to send someone a message, to communicate. And this approach should be at the heart of everything. The interesting thing is, that such an approach is in line with the design-rules of mobile devices: focus on a single and simple task. It's odd that existing operating systems do exactly the opposite (in hopes to cater to the masses). All that being said, I don't think this device will have a mass-appeal, because I doubt people will understand it (or be able to classify it as anything). So yeah...it will be a financial failure. Also, companies like WhatsApp will never allow their something like this, because it breaks their proprietary ecosystem.

    So yeah, it's going to be very boring in the phone and tablet market. We have two giants that don't really innovate, and we have a lot of users who a. bought into an ecosystem, and b. aren't really interested in anything truly innovative or different, and (essential) app-companies don't want to risk anything.



    ps. why was Microsoft missing from your list. Because you can say whatever you want about Microsoft, but at least they thought about their OS, and wanted to make something different (that - as far as I've seen - mostly works).

    pps. end of my personal rant.
  3.    #3  
    Quote Originally Posted by Misj' View Post
    ps. why was Microsoft missing from your list. Because you can say whatever you want about Microsoft, but at least they thought about their OS, and wanted to make something different (that - as far as I've seen - mostly works).
    Oops! I started with a list of alternates, then added in the big players - MS fell between those two definitions. Updated.

    I agree the original iphone was basically an ipod that could call and in a way Apple's innovation was to treat apps like the music - creating a portal they control, so controlling and profiting from the secondary market. In part they make efforts to ensure the quality and security of the available apps, but they also get a cut of everything and can block things they don't like.

    I also agree about the communication point - what you are talking about here is of course synergy. There is always an application / program to make the connection, but if it's a single interface then you are just communicating - the particular service doesn't really matter.

    On the subject of interfaces, I'm not expecting anyone here to say something is better than webOS, but is anything else close? I've heard good things about the BB10 hub and Windows Phone.

    So that's one vote for 'boring'. Does anyone see a way that the market may get 'interesting'?
    Last edited by Preemptive; 10/24/2016 at 07:16 AM.
  4. #4  
    Quote Originally Posted by Preemptive View Post
    I also agree about the communication point - what you are talking about here is of course synergy. There is always an application / program to make the connection, but if it's a single interface then you are just communicating - the particular service doesn't really matter.
    Indeed. And synergy goes much further than integrated messaging or email apps (that we are starting to see). In my opinion synergy allowed for a 'one app, infinite possibilities'-approach rather than an 'infinite but specialized apps'-approach.

    But as I said: would you ever expect WhatsApp to allow for a synergy plug-in? - They'd probably claim that it wouldn't allow of the security and privacy they wanted. Also, while a user normally doesn't care about which service is used as long as the conversation continues, as an app-builder you don't want people to switch between Steam, WhatsApp, Skype, and your service all in one conversation. You want to bind people to you (and I'm not even talking about harvesting big data from conversations).
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    #5  
    Quote Originally Posted by Preemptive View Post
    On the subject of interfaces, I'm not expecting anyone here to say something is better than webOS, but is anything else close? I've heard good things about the BB10 hub and Windows Phone.
    I can't say much about the Windows interface, but I spent some time with a BB Z30 and now have a BB Priv. The Hub is an attempt to capture the essence of WebOS synergy within an App. It comes close, but I found WebOS's synergy at the OS level to be a far superior implementation. The BB10 implementation is much better than the Android one since they controlled the integration with the OS. In the Android version, it doesn't capture notifications from or launch all apps. Each release gets better, but they are slightly off on their "Just Type" functionality. They use another app called "Device Search" to provide this feature but you'll need another app to get it to launch it when typing on the PKB. Samsung has just released an app that replicates the BB Hub functionality as well. Or you can load the BB services and Apps on a stock Android to play (either a monthly subscription via the Play Store or side-loaded see Working BlackBerry Priv apps for any Android device [no root required] - BlackBerry Forums at CrackBerry.com)
    Palm III->Palm IV->Palm V->M130->Tungsten->Treo 270->Treo 600->Treo 700->Palm Pre Plus->FrankenPre 2->Pre 3 & TouchPad
  6. #6  
    Great topic and perspective!

    I believe all telecom innovation is being focused on security and newer, more secure transmission media. This i think is why Google is launching new apps to replace Hangouts. They'll have high speed mobile video calling perfected soon. It's got to be secure.

    The market unfortunately has illustrated that it cares about one thing primarily: senseless, continuous communication. Everyone i know that is a"phone junky" cares only about reading and posting updates to Facebook, Twitter, etc. Taking pictures of the food they're about to eat and dumb nonsense like that.

    So why bother to innovate? The market rejected the Priv, which was a really nice device. It should not have bombed. Sad.

    MFGs also want to secure virtual payment systems and try to usher in the IoT, but that won't happen until security improves significantly. It's progressing...

    Meanwhile also important is the shift in telecom content providers. Comcast and ATT will be competing directly with Google as their Fiber service comes available. They are installing fiber around Atlanta at a furious pace. The recent partnership with Direct TV and ATT is an interesting twist as they flounder to provide an alternative. Then of course, consolidating media giants like NBC/Comcast is just plain scary. The players are getting too large.

    they also are trying to get traction in the wearables industry, where more innovation is needed to improve nano technology and minimize resource demand. Smaller + better is not an easy equation to solve.

    But they have to, because they have to get us to the point where young people are begging for the chip to be implanted in their heads! Skynet IS coming, and the killer robots will be US! Lol

    Meanwhile, i don't expect a break from the duality view. America is the primary market leading the industry and we're too stupid to handle more choices than two. Ask Bernie Sanders, he can verify. (This is a joke. Let's not get political)
    Last edited by TJs11thPre; 10/24/2016 at 10:18 AM.
    Sporting my 13th Pre device, a NOS unlocked ROW Pre3!
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  7. kancept's Avatar
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    #7  
    Firefox OS is cancelled.
    https://groups.google.com/forum/#!ms...Y/Lppm0VHVBAAJ

    Super interesting thing to me is that most of those (all but one, really) run on my Nexus 4. :-D Talk about a reference platform. Bought my Nexus 4 because of the OS coverage. Sold my Nexus 5 as it didn't have as much OS coverage at the time.
  8. kancept's Avatar
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    #8  
    Honestly, I would probably develop stuff for my Veer if it had 2 things. #1 a better camera. #2 webOS had voice APIs. THose are pretty much the 2 things I use on my daily driver the most. I use so much voice input on my device it's just crazy. And I take a ton of photos when working on my engines. See how having to 'Hey Siri' or 'OK Google helps' with oil covered hands? I've become spoiled with those integrations for as little as they are truly integrated.
  9. #9  
    I can't predict what will play out, but my gut tells me we have a long future of putting up with the Apple/Google duopoly. The big two and the tech press have convinced the masses that a platform is no good without lots of apps. Because of this, it seems impossible for anything new, regardless of how good, or even superior it might be, to survive. It's depressing as hell.
  10.    #10  
    Quote Originally Posted by kancept View Post
    Firefox OS is cancelled.
    Yes, but recently. I believe it is also open-source, so could be picked up by some other group. I think like webOS, it is also running on (Panasonic?) TVs.
    Quote Originally Posted by kancept View Post
    Honestly, I would probably develop stuff for my Veer if it had 2 things. #1 a better camera. #2 webOS had voice APIs. THose are pretty much the 2 things I use on my daily driver the most.
    I don't use it, but I think there is some basic voice input - maybe saying the name of the person you want to call with a hands-free set. I know of one OSS voice recognition system called Jasper. I guess this could be implemented on LuneOS, but what would be lacking is the back-end AI resource to understand natural language queries rather than simply reacting to spoken commands, but I did see something recently* that was all OSS voice/AI etc (conclusion was that it isn't ready yet, but it exists).
    *Linux Magazine, Nov 2016, p44. Sirius, Kaldi, Lucida.
    Last edited by Preemptive; 10/24/2016 at 09:42 PM.
  11.    #11  
    Quote Originally Posted by Grabber5.0 View Post
    The big two and the tech press have convinced the masses that a platform is no good without lots of apps.
    To be optimistic, I'd say that when the major services are covered (or there are usable alternatives), then a few key utilities and a fair selection of games is enough. There needs to be a steady flow of fresh stuff and ultimately, it still amounts to a lot of apps, but the numbers quoted for the big two are just big numbers - no one will ever use all those apps.

    As stated by Misj above, once the user can communicate, throw in a music player (or service), a photo app, navigation, the usual PIM stuff and some games, that might be enough (if the apps are quality). You can't go head to head with the big two... unless there's some other USP for the offering - it might be home control, VR, better security...

    One thing that does surprise me is the dominance of these thin slabs. It's not so much the popularity as that there doesn't seem to be anything else. That said, I did recently retweet a picture of Samsung flip phone - Slab screen & H/W keyboard.
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  12. kancept's Avatar
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    #12  
    Thanks for those links. Guess it's time to setup a linux box to dev with at home again. Lucida looks like the cleaner way to get started, and it is the newer version of Sirius.
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  13. #14  
    Quote Originally Posted by Preemptive View Post
    To be optimistic, I'd say that when the major services are covered (or there are usable alternatives), then a few key utilities and a fair selection of games is enough. There needs to be a steady flow of fresh stuff and ultimately, it still amounts to a lot of apps, but the numbers quoted for the big two are just big numbers - no one will ever use all those apps.

    As stated by Misj above, once the user can communicate, throw in a music player (or service), a photo app, navigation, the usual PIM stuff and some games, that might be enough (if the apps are quality). You can't go head to head with the big two... unless there's some other USP for the offering - it might be home control, VR, better security...

    One thing that does surprise me is the dominance of these thin slabs. It's not so much the popularity as that there doesn't seem to be anything else. That said, I did recently retweet a picture of Samsung flip phone - Slab screen & H/W keyboard.
    I know that, and you know that, but the masses don't get it.
  14.    #15  
    I'd PM this, but that function doesn't seem to have a message field. Maybe it's just the TP that doesn't like it.
    Microsoft releases open source toolkit used to build human-level speech recognition | Ars Technica
  15. #18  
    I think we can all agree that in the same way that the computer OS ecosystem is thoroughly dominated by two options (Windows vs macOS), the mobile OS ecosystem is dominated by two options (Android vs iOS).

    Unless there is some HUGE value proposition offered by a new mobile OS, there is no displacing Android or iOS. But why can't a third mobile OS play the role that Linux does for computers?

    It would probably have to be basically open source and allow full customization and freedom in a way that Android and iOS never will. By its nature it could offer much better safety/security/privacy (think of Tails version of linux).

    Couldn't a webOS/LuneOS be this third-way option?
    Join date: 07/22/2003 (Going to hold on to my Pixi Pre 3 as long as I can!)
  16. #19  
    All I can add to this is, I loved my Veers. I'm ok with my BBZ10, (BB10 is the closest to WebOS I have seen) but there is nothing out there new that isn't too big for my pocket. I hate holsters. My TP is not much bigger than some of the new phones, (just kidding but trying to make a point)
    Today's gen wants to do it all on a phone, text, talk, surf, banking, games, reports, essays, movies..... I know of some who rarely use their PC anymore. They just do it all on their "phone".
    So you ask, what do the masses want or need? Basically what the industry tells them they have to have! the company who does the best at this will be the dominant one in the future.
    I still power up one of my Veers every now and again just because I miss it. Too bad Android on a Veer project died!!!

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