Single Use Devices

April 4th, 2014

android.gifI am increasingly seeing demand for apps that will be the only app running on a particular device. This is interesting because it takes Android to new markets and vertical uses. In my case my clients are re-purposing Android tablets for use in hospitality, high end camera phones for use in medical diagnosis and settop boxes to create new consumer devices.

I am also seeing colleagues and developers such as myself start to buy inexpensive Android hardware and use for a single purpose. For example, I have a client who uses small Android tablets as clocks in all his rooms. I know some people use old phones as web cams. Tablets can also be used as single-use permanent photo frames, used as home media controllers (with Chromecast) and single use media storage devices.

However the commercial opportunities are much larger. Think about single use apps that might run on AllInOnes, inexpensive single board computers and rugged devices.

Android makes a great general purpose ’single-use’ operating system because you can install an apk on any device entirely without Google’s intervention, the APIs are very deep allowing you to do almost everything you would want and devices (especially last year’s devices) are relatively inexpensive.

However, innovation should start with an idea or problem rather than focussing on the solution. Think about an industry you know a lot about and ask what are the current problems. Could they be solved using a single-use solution?

iOS and UIQ

April 3rd, 2014

apple.gifEvery time Apple starts a new patent trial I think how Apple wasn’t that innovative in that some aspects of iOS were found in Symbian’s touch screen OS UIQ. However, it’s my belief that Apple’s deserved success came through being able to cleverly commercialise the innovations when others had failed. 

I have previously mentioned how tapping on something such as a telephone number or address to cause an appropriate action isn’t new, was found in UIQ and is almost certainly prior art. In fact, actioning (as opposed to tapping - because we had no touch screens) an item and performing an appropriate action was an early Psion innovation.

Today, John Pagonis, an ex-Symbian employee mentioned on Twitter that Steve Jobs had a UIQ phone and even had a licence to the Symbian UIQ source for evaluation. This licence forbid Apple from pursuing its own mobile OS. John mentioned he knows this because he was sitting near the account manager who was responsible for the Apple account. This tends to explain how some aspects of UIQ ended up in iOS. Many innovations, whether from Apple or Samsung, are based on previous innovations.

UPDATE: As ex-Symbian Keith Playford mentions on twitter, UIQ owed more to Newton and Palm than iOS owed to UIQ. Symbian even had ex-Apple Scott Jenson on-board.

Kandar Interactive Smartphone OS Stats

April 2nd, 2014
kantar.pngKandar has a great new interactive web page that shows multiple countries and how smartphone OS market share has changed over time in your selected country.



The data can also be viewed as a Word File.

RIoTboard Android 4.3 Board

March 31st, 2014

RIoTboard is a new board that supports Android 4.3 out of the box. It’s pitched as "revolutionizing the Internet of Things" but it’s really just a single board computer. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting platform for experimentation and perhaps commercialisation.


For more details visit the web site, the product spec, the data sheet, and the forum. Farnell, in the UK, have it available for £46.55 (about $76) + vat.

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Report on App Monetization

March 28th, 2014
idc.gifIDC and App Annie have a new free report on app advertising and monetization trends. Freemium continues to see the greatest growth with paid apps declining. However, your chosen method of monetisation should depend on both where you are and where your expected customers are located.


In my opinion, too much emphasis is put on free vs paid and monetisation strategies. Very few people make money directly from apps and the ones that do are probably games.

The people making the real money are those that are supplying apps for free and instead selling or promoting something else. Almost every industry has opportunities to use apps as enablers of core business. For example, in my case, in the last year I have worked with companies using apps in healthcare, insurance, retail and hospitality. The retail solution was created so that it was white label to allow use by my client’s many clients. None of the apps I created over the last year for clients was sold, ad-funded or freemium funded. Instead, the apps support existing businesses to sell more of their core product or service.

I believe there are many opportunities such as these that go beyond the free vs paid mentality. Furthermore, if they are implemented in such a way as to be re-brandable via white labelling then this leverages the opportunity to make it even larger.

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Demand for Mobile OS Developers

March 26th, 2014
I have been looking at the demand for Android and iOS developers in the US and UK. US oriented WantedAnalytics has some stats on the most in-demand mobile operating systems for February 2014…


Their hiring scale, in range 1 to 99, scores skills according to how hard they are to fill. All of the above operating systems score around 80 signifying they are hard to fill.

Meanwhile, in the UK, ITJobsWatch  lists the top wanted operating systems for the 3 months to 26 March 2014…


Here in the UK it’s extremely difficult to recruit experienced mobile developers for a permanent employee role. Instead, most work is done by freelancers like myself.

Two observations…

  • The situation has reversed from two years ago when iOS was in more demand than Android.
  • It’s interesting that demand for Windows and Linux developers still far exceeds, by an order of magnitude, that for mobile OS developers. I guess it’s due to all the legacy software out there. What with Mobile Eating the World, we can only expect the demand for mobile OS developers to increase and jobs become even harder to fill.

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Platform Share

March 25th, 2014

asymcoplatforms.pngHorace Dediu of Asymco has a plot of platform share of phone sold. It shows Android’s large market share. The installed base (the area shaded brown) is getting large. The growth curve is steep. How high can the Android market share go? Will Android become the new Windows ? or will it become the gateway to much more? (wearables and Internet of Things)

It’s interesting how, Larry Page says he "felt guilty for wasting time" working on the Android operating system, which at the time was a side project for Google.

This can give inspiration to all of us to, as Larry says, "embrace new technologies". "Most businesses fail because they miss the future," he said. 









Mobile Only

March 21st, 2014
comscore.gifcomScore has some interesting research into ‘mobile-only’ audiences. They say that companies are being lulled into a false sense of security in thinking everyone is accessing content from both desktop and mobile, However, their research shows that mobile-only audiences not only exist but are growing and will surpass those on the desktop.


The research also shows that mobile-only consumers are not just the young tech-savvy consumers you might expect but instead include a wide range of ages. The research was aimed at brands, (media) agencies and advertisers. However, I believe this has some profound implications for mobile developers. It means that we have reached a point where it’s becoming viable to create new products and service that are only accessible via mobile. As mobile-only takes hold, multi-screen might become less important.

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