29 Sep

Android Platform Versions (2012)

Below is a snapshot of the Android platform distribution, as of September 2012.

Android Platforms Sept 2012

As you can see, the majority of the devices out there, close to 60%, are still 2.3 (Gingerbread). This is followed by ICS with close to 21%. Froyo 2.2 is 14%.

I hope that by March (but more likely, summertime or later) of 2013, that by then the majority of the Android devices out there are 4.0+. This would make the Android app developer’s life in general much simpler — by (1) minimizing the number of major Android platforms to deal with, and (2) making it easier/cheaper to implement (or move up to) the recommended Android design guidelines. The result of this includes (1) cheaper to develop/maintain apps, (2) consistent apps per developer, and (3) consistent look/feel/behavior across the app market.

For this to happen, device manufacturers and operators must help transform the above piechart to be mostly 4.0+ Android devices. They can help by literally selling less (and even better, stop selling) Gingerbread/2.3 and older devices. If you look around you will see that operators are still selling Gingerbread devices. And we need Google to have more cojones with respect to this and stimulate, if you will, both the device manufacturers and operators to move forward — this transition is taking forever! (Note: Gingerbread was introduced on December 6, 2010.)

Some customers may leave feedback as “why the app does not follow the Android UI guidelines”, or “why the app doesn’t support the ICS UI paradigm” — but again, 4.0+ is just a smaller fraction of what is out there!

In the meantime, there is the Android Support (Compatibility) library. Also, see Backwards Compatibility (Android Design Patterns).


12 Jul

On Mobile Industry Numbers and Mobile Jobs

The other day I tweeted this:

(URL: https://twitter.com/eortiz/status/223096404233564160)

Then I read at the Royal Pingdom blog some interesting Internet 2011 in numbers; looking at the mobile-related numbers, we have:

Mobile (July 2012)

  • 1.2 billion – The number of active mobile broadband subscriptions worldwide in 2011.
  • 5.9 billion – The estimated number of mobile subscriptions worldwide in 2011.
  • 85% – Percentage of handsets shipped globally in 2011 that included a web browser.
  • 88% – Apple iPad’s share of global tablet web traffic in December.

    So the mobile space is a pretty hot space indeed. Let’s now look at some mobile-related job salary numbers, courtesy of Indeed Salary; note these are *average* salaries:

    Mobile Architect

    Mobile Developers

    Mobile Designer

    Mobile Web Developer

    Android Developer

    iOS Developer

    Windows Mobile Developer

    BlackBerry Developer

    Symbian OS Developer

    Mobile Product Manager

    I actually find this quite low for Mobile Product Managers.

    Mobile Project Manager

    Let’s now look at some trends, courtesy of Indeed Trends. Interesting is how it starts to trend up towards the end of 2010 for all the top mobile OS platforms –iOS, Android, HTML5:

    iOS Job Trends

    HTML5 Job Trends

    Android Job Trends

    Mobile-app Job Trends

    Symbian OS Job Trends

    Note the roller-coaster trend for Symbian OS…

    Windows Mobile Job Trends


    BlackBerry Job Trends


    So in conclusion, the mobile space is red HOT… The demand is there. It definitely is a good time to be a mobile technologist, developer, product manager, and so on… globally!


    07 Oct

    The Impact of Steve Jobs on Mobility

    Thanks Steve
    Thanks, Steve — Created by Jonathan Mak.

    Steve Jobs’ legacy spans a number of industries — the personal computer, computer graphics & visualization, the movie industry, the music industry, telecommunications and mobile devices, retail stores. The impact he made across technology sectors was like no other before him.

    His legacy touched so many people, directly, because he put the user, the user experience and design first. His passion for beautiful was just beautiful and amazing.

    Mobility technologists of today must thank Steve. To appreciate his impact on our sector, it is important to understand how things were before Steve Jobs and the iPhone. In short, literally, there was mobility before the iPhone and after the iPhone — both periods are completely different.

    Before the days of the iPhone, the operator controlled every aspect of the mobile device — inside and outside. Those were the early days of data networks. While there were mobile platforms such as WinCE, PalmOS, Symbian, WAP and J2ME, that allowed for mobile applications, innovation moved at the speed of a turtle. The main factor that impacted innovation was the operator itself — FUD over the networks, and control over the handsets and what could be done on the handsets themselves (that is, the kind of connected applications). To go to market, it was the most painful process ever, and it was very expensive — creating an application was a barrier to entry all on itself, and then, the ‘operator deck’, which was the main way to gain visibility was terrible. There was no ecosystem. There were people with great ideas, but bringing those to market was just next to impossible. This resulted in non-sophisticated phones and simplistic applications. It meant poor user experience. It wasn’t pretty.

    Not even the powerful Nokia could break through this.

    Then came Steve Jobs and his team with the iPhone.

    The only way to break away from the operator control was to reinvent the mobility sector, which first meant the operator cannot be in the center in control. Imagine that. That was unheard of. And to execute, you create your own hardware, software and complete go-to-market approaches. Now, that is thinking outside of the box.

    And in the process, not only they raised the bar on hardware design, software design, the user experience! all beautiful, capable pieces, but it was much more than a phone. Yes it could play music and videos, but most importantly for developers, he redefined how applications are built, marketed and monetized. No more ‘operator deck’! No more operator control. He pushed for latest on web technologies. And the ability to create incredible native applications. The power transitioned from the operator and into the ecosystem and the developers themselves. Developers could write mobile web-apps, or native apps cheaply and market them via an app store and take a huge cut from the sales of their apps, or, developers could give the app away for free and make money in other ways. Developers were no longer at the mercy or FUD from the operators. Finally, after ~9 years!

    That was the legacy, the impact of Jobs on mobility — he redefined the mobile industry as a whole, top to bottom and left to right — the hardware design, and the software within, the software ecosystem, the user experience, the monetization aspects. He knew that software was the key to success and that the developers were the messengers, the ones who would make it happen.

    The rest is history — now everyone gets it, and everyone follows.

    Without Steve Jobs’ vision and his cojones (no one before him dared to challenge the operator) and of course his incredible team, we would still be using crappy handsets, and boring software/apps.

    The mobility industry is really defined as Before-iPhone (BiP) and After-iPhone (AiP).

    Steve inspired me and many in my generation of mobile technologists. I never got the honor to meet Steve Jobs, but I always wanted to tell him, “Thank you, Steve!”


    P.S. I look back at my out of the blue interview with Apple in ~2004-2005 when they were looking for mobile folks. I have never written about this before, but that is how I learned back then that Apple was getting into mobile. I had my own business back then, so timing-wise wasn’t good for me, but if I had joined, it would have been something special.

    04 Feb

    Mobility in 2011 – The Network & Operators

    (This is part of a series of blog posts on Mobility in 2011)

    Mobility in 2011: Networks & Operators

    Operators will continue their shift towards mobile data and packet services, and value add services, with a large increase on mobile network bandwidth (10X according to IDC) thanks to LTE and 3G network and updates, as well as expected growth (as in massive) consumption of such bandwidth due to the smartphones and wireless modems and mobile apps, including real-time video services.

    Mobile apps and data usage will be (a new) major pain-point for operators who will be looking for new application awareness methods to help them deal with the issues related to apps, across multiple mobile platforms, and the related services on the cloud, and last but not least, higher expectations from consumers. Recall that just a month ago (Jan 2011) Apple announced its 10Billion app download; very impressive. Yes, apps and data are the operator’s “new SMS”; as in cash cow.

    According to Strategy Analytics, the expected Global CAPEX for service providers is in the $Billions: $270B in 2010 –> $310B in 2015; that is a 5 Yr CAGR of 2.8% (IDC); that is massive investment.

    The expected growth of cellular subscription will continue its exponential growth; the following chart shows the global cellular subscriptions by technology (Strategy Analytics).

    3G UMTS (and related upgrades such as HSPA+) and EVDO, will continue to persists as the dominant network bearers while LTE gets fully deployed; we are probably talking 3-5 years. Not shown above is the fact that WiFi now accounts for more than 50% of mobile user connections to the Internet, according to a new study from Bango (Feb 2011).

    Operators will and should continue catering developers. Many will and are expanding their developer programs with the goal of expanding their own developer communities, via new APIs into operator-services and revenue sharing offerings. But to succeed, operators must really invest on such programs; it is not only about offering a developer website and some APIs, but it is a continuous exercise from enabling the developers but also offering go-to-market benefits.

    Operators will use “network access” as leverage to maximize the monetization of their investments. One example is via new kinds of data access (plans) fees and caps; for example, access to LTE or quality of service might cost extra. This may impact developers in different ways, including pushing responsibility to app developers when it comes to data consumption and how to be deal with the consumer. Another example is going after service providers such as Google and other high-data driven services and companies which if they succeed may affect developers as new costs imposed by service providers will be passed down to the developers somehow.

    In summary in 2011, we are seeing continuous massive growth on the number of subscribers, and have started to see the move to LTE and 4G, and 4G-like speeds via 3G network updates (which is what T-Mobile has been doing). The role of WiFi on Internet-connectivity from mobile devices is clear. Apps, apps, apps are the new cash-cow for developers and publishers, and operators as well since apps drive data-usage. Operators will look for and invest on new ways to gain visibility into the impact of apps on their networks. Operators will introduce their own app stores and operator APIs, and go-to-market incentives, which together with network access, they will use as leverage, mainly to tackle the issue of lost leverage when the control/power shifted to the ecosystem. But to be determined is how such Operator app stores and APIs will do, from the adoption perspective; they must win the developer first. At the end, network access, the pipe, is the Operator’s true leverage.


    21 Oct

    What is definition of “Open” ?

    There are lots of discussions happening in the blogosphere about what is the definition of Open (when talking about Android vs. iPhone). Many of these discussions are around open source software (OSS). But there are other views as well to be considered when talking about the “openness”.

    There is open from the open source software (OSS) point of view. From this perspective, the Android stack is not 100% open (parts are proprietary by Google or 3rd party) and the iPhone is not open at all. This is a technology view.

    And there is open from the legal perspective, in this case, Android is much more open than iPhone (as Apple doesn’t license iOS). This is a legal view.

    And there is open from the network perspective. Here operators, while still in control, now are much more open to the idea of OSS and the handsets/OSes they support; even for “unsupported” devices that pop up on their network and cause them headaches. The beneficiary is the user/subscriber. This is a subscriber view.

    Openness do have implications on fragmentation, but this is the topic of a different blog.


    16 Oct

    On the the rise of open mobile

    While looking for information on how CTIA 2009 in San Diego went, I found an article by Richard Wong (who is a venture capitalist with Accel Partners) titled on “The rise of open mobile (and congratulations Android team)“.

    A good article by Richard, he reminisces on how mobility used to be in the early days of apps (i.e. year ~2000) when operators were in total control — I do remember those days very well and all the unnecessary control and FUD that literally pushed innovation back about 10 years. Richard then compares that past with what he observed at CTIA 2009 and the lots of noise related to Android — the shift from an operator-controlled mobile world to “Open Mobile” players such as Android.

    I have written about this before, on how “control” have been and will continue to shift from the operator and to the ecosystem — the developer and community where developers create (and add) value via their software innovations in applications, where the ecosystem, open systems and common sense will be the drivers for success, where the new deck is the “deck that is on the cloud” and users drive which application succeed or not via simple “application demand”, ranking, recommendations and comments.

    For this shift that we are (finally) getting to see we have to thank Apple and Google, but these are recent players. We must recognize the impact made by the Mobile Web and also what triggered it all back in 1999 — Sun with their mobile Java technologies as well as the good old WAP.

    I do believe the Android market is going to explode globally becoming a predominant mobile platform together with the iPhone, and that native/local apps will continue to rule for quite a while.

    Update Oct 21: Days after I wrote the above, TechCrunch wrote a piece validating my post above on Android; see Android Avalanche: A Complete List Of The Android Phones So Far.


    09 Oct

    Concepts and Technologies behind Real-time Demand Data – A Consumer, Mobile and Business Perspective

    A continuation of one of my favorite research topics, the mobile context and the meaning of interactions, below is my latest as presented at the 2009 Demand Analytics conference — this time with focus on real-time demand data, the consumer and businesses. The audience was mainly category and brand managers for big consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies.

    See the related presentation Mobility and People’s Context, Interactions and Data, which was originally presented at Design4Mobile 2008.


    12 Apr

    MikeR on iPhone devotion, developers and apathy

    A great writeup by Mike Rowehl, Please Don’t Mistake My Apathy For A Lack of Understanding, in response to VentureBeat’s piece iPhone devotion blinds Silicon Valley app developers.

    Mike, who is a very experienced mobile developer and technologist in general, writes about his apathy for all the companies and people how now seem to “get it” when it comes to things such as app stores and ecosystems and the importance of developers; the same companies/people who made the life of developers next to impossible (i.e. fragmentation, cost/fees, certifications, lack of support, failing to deliver, over-control) when trying to develop mobile applications in the past. The same companies/people responsible for slowing down advancements in mobility because of lame excuses and FUD and control — that is, until Apple with the iPhone showed them differently.

    My comment (modified a bit) that I left on his blog follows:

    Agreed. It took Apple the vision to create the integrated experience that even non-techies get how to discover and download of apps. It took Apple to show/change the playing field, vs. being a “yes man”. And it took Apple show how a touch experience and mobile browsing should be, while others were afraid of taking step and while others didn’t get it at all. And, it took Apple to show it is about the experience and ecosystem and the developers to bring value to the mobile platform. Amazing, isn’t it?

    Now everyone is copying. Now everyone “gets it”.

    But it is good to see now that everyone else is “getting it”, and are doing something about it.

    But I agree, don’t call developers blind (or stupid), as what developers are doing is just the opposite – it is not about devotion — it is about low investment, quick time to market, exposure, and large as possible ROI. And as others platform get to show good return potential, developers will develop for those as well… Show us the money!


    19 Jan

    Pollen Journal – First Pollen Alert iPhone App (Ringful)

    When I started eZee inc, one of my proudest accomplishments was the great R&D/development team I had. And one of the members of that team was Michael Yuan. Enter Ringful…


    Since then, Michael went on and started Ringful, a mobile mashup company for voice and mobile messaging applications. Ringful is the creator of apps such as Facebook Voicetag, Instant conference calls on the iPhone, Calendar-based conference calls, and Two-factor ID Verification via mobile phones.

    A couple of days ago Michael sent me an email about his new app, the Pollen Journal which is the first pollen forecast app (and corresponding back-end mashup) for the iPhone.

    Some screenshots (click to enlarge):

    Related links:

    Very cool. Expect more new cool apps coming from Ringful…


    15 Dec

    Goodbye 2008 and welcome 2009 and some predictions on mobility

    2008 was a very interesting year for me, with both failures and successes and tons of lessons learned. But life is good. 2009 will be a very interesting year for mobility and handsets and applications. An example of this was yesterday when I was on my way to the Orange Partners Conference. The bus driver taking us to the hotel was bragging about his 3G phone and mobile TV – yes the bus driver! And he had no problem paying for both data and mobile TV. Mobility adoption is happening!

    So in the spirit of the 2008 end of the year, below are some of my predictions about mobility and 2009:

    1. 2009 will be a great year for smartphones; perhaps it will be the year of the smartphone. The top smartphone handset and software players for the next 5 years will be defined in 2009.
    2. The role of Open Source Software (OSS) will continue to grow within mobile handsets and software. Symbian will go open source. Android is open source. Browsers are open source. Windows Mobile I’m not sure but I won’t be surprised if they go open source as well. Device manufacturers will deliver more sophisticated handsets cheaper due to OSS.
    3. Related to the above, the mobile browser will become commoditized, thanks to open source. A great example of this is the Steel browser for Android which seems to have been developed by a *single* developer leveraging the Web Kit.
    4. On user interfaces and smartphones, touch-screens and gestures and accelerometers will be the rule, not the exception (thank you Apple).
    5. SMS usage/growth will continue and mobile IM usage will remain pretty much flat.
    6. Twitter will come up with a real revenue model and make some revenue. But it will be plagued by the demons of social networking that killed Trutap: “everyone loves social software, but few would pay for it”.
    7. Symbian won’t take off (in 2009). Even in open source, which was a great move, Symbian will remain synonymous to Nokia. Few will try it, but at the end will move to Android. It will take a couple of years to fully realize the new Symbian vision.
    8. The ideal of mobile web having access to local handset functionality won’t be fulfilled yet (to its fullest).
    9. Android will become stronger and stronger with lots of support from all kinds of network providers and device manufacturers, but these vendors will have a difficult time differentiating themselves.
    10. Google will start losing its coolness factor.
    11. Google will introduce a checkout process for its app store, and developers wanting to make money will notice; the Google app store will explode with a large number of applications.
    12. App stores will continue to have its huge effect on mobile apps and distribution. Due to the revenue and fast distribution models offered by iPhone and soon Android app stores, developers will first target such local applications (vs. mobile web). An even larger number of local/native applications will be created and distributed via app stores for Android and iPhone.
    13. The BlackBerry app store will be somewhat successful.
    14. Someone will introduce an app store for mobile web that goes beyond an application catalog. dotMobi will take leadership by going beyond an application catalog but also providinig an associated business/revenue model.
    15. On the Java ME front, 2009 will be a turning point for the platform: MIDP3 vs. CDC + OSGi, JavaFX.
    16. The top smartphone platforms for 2009 will be: iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry (for both mobile web and local apps) in the US. (update: I think I might not be putting enough emphasis on Nokia here and their new handsets).
    17. Location, location, location everywhere in our apps. And end-users will learn to expect it.
    18. MMS will continue to suck (in the US), due to proprietary implementations and lack of interoperability.
    19. Lots of noise with WiMAX and LTE, with a few deployments.
    20. No NFC in 2009.
    21. Network providers will start delivering services of their own on the web (similar to Google services).
    22. Network providers will show their love to widgets, and spend resources on widget-related approaches to applications and user interfaces.

    Disclaimer: the above are my personal opinions and are not professional advise for business or personal decisions. 🙂


    18 Nov

    The gods are being good to Network Operators

    …or, the Network Providers/Operators must be having a blast.

    The network providers are doing just fine… new cool handsets here and there, handset exclusivity on certain networks, message usage is up, data consumption is up, new services are coming up, very cool applications from web to native, developers and more developers, and prices are up…

    Not too bad for the current state of the economy, don’t you agree?

    I’ll tell you, mobility is the place to be…


    11 Nov

    App Stores are the New Deck

    Andrea Trasatti wrote that Everyone wants an App Store these days.

    Yes, very true.

    I was talking about this with Brian Fling at Mobile 2.0.

    Apple, Google, BlackBerry. The number of independent vendors. Next, network operators…

    App Stores are the new Deck. But a very deep deck. A searchable deck. A deck-catalog.

    The new deck gives or moves the power to the subscriber/end-user, who can search (discover) and decide what application (content) to install or ignore, and even say which applications are great, OK or bad thus having a direct influence how a given application will do on the store/market.

    The new deck makes developer’s life much easier and with better returns.

    The new deck is about the ecosystem, making participation and related business model effective and attractive to everyone.

    Next, future mobile stores will go beyond local/native applications and also offer web applications, widgets, and other types of mobile content.


    11 Nov

    The Problem with OTA Updates

    Over-the-Air (OTA) updates make sense; no need to connect to the PC to download needed updates.

    At least that is the theory…

    In practicality, OTA updates translate to delays, sometimes for weeks.

    Because OTA updates burn resources, here I refer to bandwidth, this puts the network provider on an odd situation: should they be prompt with their updates and made them available immediately, potentially slowing down and/or consuming precious network resources at peak times? Or should they schedule updates at off-peak times or at small windows of times across all the subscribers, meaning it will take longer to hit all subscribers, with some subscribers not getting needed updates until weeks after it is available?

    The answer, in addition to OTA updates, network providers also provide Web to PC to Side-loading of updates. This will satisfy those subscribers who want to install updates ASAP, with the added benefit of relieving the network provider from having to push the updates thus saving network resources, while those subscribers who don’t care or prefer automatic updates, can wait for the OTA update to occur.

    As a side note: should network providers be liable for not getting updates out fast enough to handsets, allowing handsets to be exposed to hackers and whatnot?


    05 Nov

    Mobile Peer Awards — Calling all Austin Mobile Startups!


    The MobileMonday Mobile Peer Awards are among the most influential events in the mobile industry and, with over 1000 attendants, the point of reference in startup innovation during the Mobile World Congress (Barcelona, February 16, 2009).

    There are a number of cool mobile companies in Austin, and it would be great to have Austin representation!

    If your company is ready, this will give you a big opportunity to present in front of investors, operators, media companies, and everyone else in the mobile value chain, press and influential bloggers and your peer entrepreneurs.

    Visit the Peer Awards Homepage (http://www.mobilepeerawards.com) and register your startup under the *Austin* chapter.

    I will be monitoring the list and serve as a liaison… If you have any questions, shoot me an email…


    If you would like to become a sponsor of MobileMonday Austin at the Peer Awards, please send me an email. In exchange your logo will be included on the Austin’s Peer Award page and will be mentioned at the peer awards event. The collected money will be used to send Austin representation and/or help a local startup make it to the event.

    /C. Enrique Ortiz, MobileMonday Austin