November 1st, 2013
Strategy Analytics has a new report that says Android now has an 81% smartphone market share. The gains have mainly been at the expense of BlackBerry and Apple. Microsoft Windows Phone actually doubled its market share and it is currently the world’s fastest growing mobile OS. However, in my opinion, growing your market share from 2 percent to 4 percent isn’t that significant.
As Strategy Analytics points out, Android dominance is likely to be a blip in the statistics because the iPhone 5 models are popular and should help regain some market share worldwide this next quarter. That’s the problem with quarterly numbers such as these. They don’t account well for vendors, such as Apple, who only ship a new product once a year and end up with see-saw sales. However, Tomi Ahonen takes a different look at the Apple numbers by taking a moving average that seems to show that Apple sales might have actually peaked.
October 30th, 2013
IDC has new research that shows that 258.4 million smartphones where shipped in 3Q13. This a growth of 38.8% year on year. Apple is slowly getting squeezed out by Samsung and ‘Others’. However, note that ‘Others’ represents a lot of devices in China that aren’t a target for typical app developers. But countering this, Benedict Evans also says "there are probably more iOS devices in China than smartphones in the USA."
Whatever the real ‘catchment’ numbers, one observation is that 258.4 million smartphones per quarter is of an order of magnitude x10 compared to just a few years ago. These numbers are huge. I remember when phone hardware OEMs were quoting numbers in the 10’s of millions. Pre-iOS (mainly Nokia S60) smartphones initially sold in single digit millions and later 10’s of millions.
But what of the future? Now that the smartphone market is so large, I wonder how much more difficult it is for newcomer OSs. Is it even possible for a newcomer OS to compete now? Years ago, people spoke (and I wrote about) how personalisation could be used to retain users. Today, many people are tied to iOS and Android through the services they provide and it would probably need something extremely compelling for them to switch to a newcomer.
October 28th, 2013
I was at Droidcon London last Friday. There seemed to be a lot more attendees actually doing Android development rather than people ‘thinking about Android’ as was more the case in previous years. Here are some things I came across that might be of interest to Android developers…
- The Developer Lab has a new DEVICE initiative that allows access to legacy handsets for testing. You send them one of your legacy handsets to become a member.
- Genymotion is a new Android emulator that uses virtualisation rather than ARM emulation that makes it much faster than the SDK-supplied emulators.
- More people seem to be using Android Studio but the consensus seems to be it’s not yet a 100% reliable replacement to Eclipse. I, for one, don’t use it yet.
- The Firefox Android browser open source provides a great example should you ever need to create your own toolbar, especially if you need overflow menus. The Firefox talk also mentioned the Mozilla written Droid Inspector that exports a file that allows you to debug UI overdraws and Smoothie that allows async loading of listviews.
- There were several mentions of how Android developers should be pushing back on designers that produce iOS-centric designs for Android development. Jamie McDonald also gave the great observation that "navigation is not a brand" i.e. You should rarely change the Android navigation with the excuse that it better follows your brand. It’s often better to stick to the built-in ActionBar which can easily be styled using Action bar Style Generator.
- Take a look at Square’s Dagger (dependency injection), Otto (event subscription/broadcast), retrofit (type-safe REST client), Picasso (image downloading and caching) and OKHttp (Http and SPDY client).
- SQLCipher is an interesting ‘drop-in’ replacement for SQLite that allows for encrypted data storage. However, it’s fairly large at 7Mb for the ARM version. Also check out IOCipher that’s an encrypted file system backed by SQLCipher.