Future of smartphones

2011-08-02 13:00

I was very interested to see that a certain Mr Arthur Goldstuck, an internet and cellphone expert, commented on and was given airtime on News24 that the Android mobile operating system from Google was to be the “smartphone future”.

Mr Goldstuck might be correct that the Android software can run on “any” phone, and that Apple is limited to a certain handset, while BlackBerry also limit themselves to their own handsets.

History has shown us that operating systems for smartphones that are not controlled, will eventually fail. Here I point you to Windows Mobile 6.5 and earlier, and the Nokia OS. Although Windows Mobile had an incredible amount of functionality, the openness of the system was its downfall. Microsoft did not manage the software, they did not manage the hardware spec, and what happened was that any smartphone was able to run the software.

We all know what happened to Windows Mobile 6.5; bad user experience, disjointed ecosystem of handsets, and eventually a big drop in market share.

Android has obviously taken the lead in the smartphone market, and rightly so. It offers broad functionality, is pretty “cool”, and people can choose their handsets from various manufacturers.

However, problems are starting to appear in the ecosystem. Unlike Apple, BlackBerry, and more recently, Windows Phone 7, Google has failed to control the software and the hardware. More and more below-par handsets have been brought to market which has negatively influenced user experience.

Additionally, there are so many operating system versions (Cupcake, Donut, Froyo, Gingerbread, etc) that are not updated to the newest one automatically, that it will also impact longer term user experience as people will demand to have the upgraded versions. Often, the handset specs will not allow for this, and bad performance will ensue. This all points to a disjointed and uncontrollable ecosystem.

Apple have done a great job in controlling their phones, software versions, and always aiming to give their customers the best experience through the latest software. Although I am no fan of the iPhone, Apple needs to be applauded for a very well thought-out strategy.

What astounds me is the limited airtime the Windows Phone 7 from Microsoft has received in South African media, as well as by “experts”. Very high minimum specs for the hardware, a very good operating system, version controlled by Microsoft, meaning users will always have access to the latest version, and functionality that is at least as good as the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry’s. On top of that, various handset makers offer Windows Phone7s, just like Android.

What is also not mentioned is the fact that all Nokia (remember them) smartphones will run Windows Phone 7 starting later in 2011. This gives Microsoft an immediate major chunk of the smartphone market. Industry analysts Gartner and IDC have all predicted that Windows Phone 7 will be the 2nd largest in the world by 2015, behind Android. Nokia is very successful in South Africa, and I predict things to stay that way.

It is debatable whether an app-centric approach will be the most important feature for the future of smartphones. Having an app-centric approach is much like being in your living room at home and wanting to move to the kitchen. First you have to exit your home, return inside and go to the kitchen. User-centric comes to mind as an approach that will rival apps in future, where the application does not play the biggest role, but having the information you need visible to you without the need to enter an app.

Markets change very, very fast. It is not so long ago that people were laughing at Apple when they said they would bring out a smartphone. Two years ago BlackBerry was the market leader for smartphones. Perhaps, articles regarding “the future of smartphones” should have a less bold statement, and read “the future of smartphones for the next 12 months”.

Finally, I am slightly biased as a Microsoft employee. Nonetheless, and apart from that, I am also an absolute fan of Windows Phone 7 and the next release, Mango, and believe it will be a hit with consumers. I would like to know what qualifies a person as an internet and smartphone expert, because if I can qualify myself, I would like to say that “Windows Phone 7 will be the future of the smartphone”.

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

  • Johann - 2011-08-02 13:06

    Really News24? REALLY? Publishing what boils down to an advert as a user letter? Really??!

      Krush - 2011-08-02 13:25

      I love my Iphone 4! <3

      zulufox - 2011-08-02 13:46

      @Johann, what do you wanna read about ... crime, ANC, Julias, Zille, protests, DA, IFP, Zuma? I for one am tired ...

      Matt :-) - 2011-08-02 14:13

      @ zulufox - I second that

      Poloyatonki - 2011-08-02 14:26

      The article sucks.

      Frankie - 2011-08-02 14:45

      Ah, my lucky day! Poliodonkie dude, I love your comments! Great to know the master of stupidity is still out there! Is your mother proud of you..?

      docraven - 2011-08-02 14:56

      Poly...its about smart phones not dumb phones.

      fraidycat - 2011-08-02 14:57

      Agreed Johann. Poloyatonki, why does the article suck, coz you can't understand the words or the software/technology behind the article?

      DeonL - 2011-08-02 16:16

      At least a letter not about JM. TG.

  • Chewbacca - 2011-08-02 13:14

    Problem with smartphones in general is that the batteries don't last, 99.9% of people who own them only use them to make calls, sms, camera, and possibly email, bluetooth and of course to try look cool. I'm sorry but this is not worth the shlepp of having to recharge the stupid thing every day. Also, the Microsoft one would probably be the worst for battery life, boot up time and I bet the hardware they recommend hasn't been made yet. Clever people have a phone to make calls and a laptop to do the other stuff. Only dumb users need to use smart phones

      Paul - 2011-08-02 13:51

      Can't agree more. But a tablet, now there is another plan altogether. I think tablets have a great chance to get rid of this smartphone/smallscreen obsession.

      Mad Hatter - 2011-08-02 14:17

      The ipad is a iphone that doesn't make phone calls but has a big screen.

  • Daemos1 - 2011-08-02 13:17


  • EGrobler - 2011-08-02 13:39

    Burger, you are quite ambitious to think that Microsoft is going to make a come-back in the smartphone market. I think you underestimate the damage that Microsoft caused by offering defunct software on the old smartphones - remember those i-Jam phones, etc? To pay for a defunct phone is extremely expensive - and they don't replace it - and I have lost all my trust in Microsoft when it comes to smart phones. What you also seem to forget is that Apple and Google managed to create a fantastic user experience - the whole package. I also notice that you predict the demise of Apple since it is a closed OS. I don't know how logical that is. I am no technical expert - I am a banker - but what I see is that Apple is bigger than Microsoft now in terms of market share. This didn't just "happen." They obviously appeal to a massive market out there. Perhaps you should wake up and smell the roses.

      Mad Hatter - 2011-08-02 13:48

      Apple you pay 4* to double the price of competitors and they have a lock-in strategy rather the open strategy of Andriod tech , you have to have i this and i that to make this i thing work on that i whatever. Good robust product but i don't want to be an i-person , microsoft took the same strategy and it worked but once they got to big it folded back on them. Point is if you not making use of every feature on the i-products then its not worth the mark-up.

      Paul - 2011-08-02 13:54

      Other way around..he said Apple will succeed because they control their environment, while Android will fail because crap will start entering the environment.

      Mad Hatter - 2011-08-02 14:15

      @paul- apple is succeeding but like microsoft when you reach 'monopoly' status you run into a new set of problems. One piece of quality out of the crap and you are sinking as people will always look for variety and you can never please everyone all the time. Tech is notoriuos for volitilaty simply due to its nature but i think apple is still far from that position. My biggest problem is the cost, if you not exploiting the functions that differentiate the i-whatever to its competitors , then its not a functional purchase but an emotional one as you are willing to pay beyond the value price .

  • unholymunk - 2011-08-02 13:59

    "Finally, I am slightly biased as a Microsoft employee" really? I would never have guessed that from the article. As for the old debate of IOS vs. Android Vs. Microsoft, each has their own drawbacks and good points... It just comes down to what you can afford, and what you want to do with your phone.

  • buzz - 2011-08-02 13:59

    Author: please get yourself a life.

  • Slayer - 2011-08-02 14:04

    Sounds to me like a microsoft employee looking for a hug :P Ok fanboys... FIGHT

  • brian johnson - 2011-08-02 14:11

    wp7 is amazing, it very slick, beautiful, intuitive, integrated and modern it actually makes the iphone and Android feel outdated.

  • Jeremy - 2011-08-02 14:24

    Some pretty blatant product punting here. Interesting that the latest smartphone stats show MS share has fallen by 50% to 1% in the last quarter... The only place WinPhone7 is going is down. The "micro" bit is becoming relevant.

  • lulama - 2011-08-02 15:01

    Uyanya wena. Stop your anti Android tendencies. Apple will fail once Steve Jobs dies.

  • Duh - 2011-08-02 15:09

    You can't access the tcp stack on Windows 7 phone untill Mango comes out. That's why it doesn't feature as you can't even develop simple apps like WhatsApp.

  • FFS - 2011-08-02 15:15

    If you are running any critical apps on a phone, Android is NOT the way to go. Apple is your only choice. I have an Android 'Droid X' phone, my wife has an iPhone. The stability and speed of the iPhone way outshines the Droid X. Android is simply not a stable platform, and can never be....not while it tries to be all things to all people on all hardware platforms. That is a recipe for failure. For mission critical apps, iPhone is the only way to go. It will be my next phone.

      Duh - 2011-08-02 16:12

      What person in their right mind would run a "mission critical" app on any phone????

  • Jenna23 - 2011-08-02 16:11

    Great article, its like a breath of fresh air in a J.Malema smoke cloud. All people talk about is the ANC, J.Malema, apartheid and racial discrimination. Makes me sick. This is something constructive and interesting so Thank you.

  • waz.kinsella - 2011-08-02 21:19

    what rubbish, failed as before!!!!

  • Kathy - 2011-08-07 08:33

    Are you effing kidding me? Remote controlled cars on our roads? No. Too dangerous. Stop it Goggle!

  • Kathy - 2011-08-07 08:38

    I am a Windows Mobile fan at heart, and used nothing but Windows mobile for a long time. I thought I would spice things up though this year and would try something new(android/mt4g). My next phone will be a Windows 7 phone.That or the Nexus Prime(3).

  • incautius - 2011-08-23 11:03

    You've been drinking the Micro$oft kool-aid too long. Windows 7 will never be a leading mobile for the same reason Windows 6.5 wasn't: it costs too much for handset makers to consider. That's Android's big advantage. It costs nothing, zero, nada and yet it gives a user experience easily comparable to that of iPhone. In addition, it doesn't restrict users to Apple's walled-garden. In fact, it's own closed ecosystem is the reason I doubt Apple will ever get above 10% global market share. As for Nokia, the decision to switch to Microsoft will kill the company. Every single individual that I know with a Nokia smartphone, has already taken the decision to switch to Android with his/her next phone. The only question is: which vendor? My own preference is for the Nexus S, which gives me the full power of Android and doesn't restrict me to functionality the handset maker thinks I should have. That is the biggest problem in smartphones: handset makers (including Apple) trying to restrict their customers' activities. Just look and the ease with which an iPhone can be "jail-broken". Closed ecosystems are so yesteryear. Wake up and smell the coffee. Remember that all significant market growth will come from the developing world in future. And the developing world will not put up with closed ecosystems.

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