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Android Beyond Mobile Phones

Hardly a day goes by without the arrival of a new Android phone commercial or rumors emerging about Googles next innovation. Android is here, you know it. It is attracting the best application developers, assembling the largest collection of ODMs, recruiting leading software and semiconductor vendors (aka the Open Handset Alliance and Open Embedded Software Foundation), and thus becoming “the buzz” everywhere.

Google’s Android operating system may have been created for phones and refined for tablets, but the OS is certainly set to move beyond the bounds of mobile devices. Recently we have witnessed Google announcing a new class of Android devices for the home at its annual I/O developer’s conference. With this move, Google presented its next strategic direction for the Android OS: “taking over our homes”. The Android@Home project is all about extending the Android OS to discover, connect, and communicate with devices in the home. Google signals the whole ecosystem of hardware makers, software developers, designers, content providers etc. where future business opportunities are emerging.

Android is already invading e-readers, media players, netbooks, GPS systems, Internet tablets, digital photo frames, VoIP phones, set-top boxes and more. It may seem as a small portion of the market, but front runners are setting the path for Android advancing in segments such as point of service, industrial controls/automation, automotive infotainment, utility monitoring, home automation/security and more beyond.
While developing new devices we must be aware that massiveness and complexity of the embedded software is rapidly progressing, rising the development cost accordingly. It is said that more than 60% of the average embedded system development cost is on the software development account. Traditionally, equipment makers developed embedded software on their own; however, in order to reduce development period and development costs, nowadays it is necessary to effectively use standard components such as standard OS and package software.

Under the veil of cutting costs, most of the manufacturers concentrate on implementing faster instead on differentiating better. Do you really want to make a product that follows other similar successful products into a market rather than setting a trend? Are the me-too products good enough for you?

New concepts that will speed time-to-market and cut costs for development are becoming extremely popular in the software development world. I like to call it reduced cost-to-market strategy. Applied in the Android field of interest, where Android is the platform for the system, this approach promotes standardization of common framework and platform for various devices and systems other than cellular phones and fast launch on the market.

All parties in the Android ecosystem need to join forces to focus and work together on co-development of common frameworks and platform for various devices beyond cellular phones to expand Android as the platform of embedded systems. By doing so, each player empowers themselves with the leverage on the market with the good starting point in the platform that will turn into successful products on the market. A nice starting point is to set the basis and work on optimization and standardization of the core platform, which will definitely lead to development of products and applications that will differentiate brands on the market.

For this very reason, here at Seavus we pride ourselves to contribute to the open source community and be among the front runners in the Android development. On the other hand we always strive to differentiate by creating the ultimate customer experience. These two facts are our stepping stone for the next adventure path-lining our strategic goal of embedding Android platform into more mature technologies and systems. Seavus has joined OESF and strategically invests in spreading the Android soul in Europe.
Android will soon run through the veins of each home appliance and personal gadget. The same familiar home-screen will await you on your refrigerator, while taking the first morning cup of coffee, chatting with your friends or reading the latest tweets. To envisions change, to be the first to provide new soul to home appliances of the future you need your full and undivided focus on the product. Together we can make it happen.

A Cheaper iPhone Rumor or Reality

Ever since Apple Inc. developed and released the first iPhone in June of 2007, the California-based technology giant has been at the cutting edge of advances in smartphone technology. If Apple isn’t actually driving the vehicle of change and creativity in the industry, the fear that they’ll come out with something bigger and better drives others to try and innovate as quickly and effectively as Apple. That Apple remained at the top of the industry for as long as it did was no small feat. While competing Android devices were available in several models from various manufacturers (Samsung, HTC, LG), the iPhone is the only Apple iOS powered smartphone available. As of the end of 2012, Android had finally established itself firmly in the driver seat in the industry by capturing 75% of the mobile market compared to a dwindling 20% for Apple’s iOS.

Diversity alone was not the entire reason behind Apple’s fall from the top. The iPhone isn’t exactly priced competitively, in part because Apple knows that hardcore iPhone fans will come back again and again for new generations of the device. Each new generation iPhone is priced at $199 with a two-year contract on various carriers and stays at that lofty price until a new generation comes out.

Android devices on the other hand generally cost between $0 and $99 with a new contract and deals are frequently offered to get top models for half their starting price, particularly around the holidays. These aren’t subpar devices either. Many of them match or exceed the hardware specifications and performance of each iPhone.

Now it is rumored that Apple is considering the production of a new, cheaper iPhone to try and recapture some of the market. Rather than the metal, glass, and/or aluminum enclosures that iPhone users have been accustomed to from the beginning, the new device is rumored to be constructed out of a plastic body. Reports vary on the subject with some sources stating an all plastic casing would be used, while others say it is more likely this new handset would be a combination of metal and see-through plastic.

Apple would be able to offer the device at a lower price than it typically sets for iPhones for two reasons. The switch to plastic is not only a cheaper alternative to metal and glass casings, but the move would also allow the company to use U.S. based suppliers to secure the parts and manufacture the phones at home.

Whatever the case, it would mark the first time that Apple has developed different models within the iPhone lineup. The new device would be considered an entry-level handset and while it might not match the exact specifications and performance of original iPhones, it would no doubt match the requirements and specifications of other entry-level devices running on Android and Windows 8.

Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, Phil Schiller, recently told a Chinese newspaper that the rumors of a cheaper iPhone are not true. Schiller steadfastly insisted that Apple would never produce a smartphone that didn’t feature the best technology available. He pointed to the company’s consistent use of unibody designs, the new Retina display, and even quality product pipelines as an indication that Apple has no desire to produce a cheaper smartphone.

There are two problems with this denial however. First off, Schiller’s comments leave room for interpretation. He clearly stated the company would not produce -cheap smartphones.- Cheap is often associated with second-tier or inferior products, when in reality it can mean a less-expensive alternative for consumers as well.

Secondly, given Apple’s dip in market share and waning demand for the iPhone 5, it might not be a bad time for Apple to diversify its line to win back some customers with the strong performance of the iOS system at a price that is affordable to more consumers.

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