03
Jan
2012
Last Updated: January 5th, 2012

Happy New Year! A new year means it's time for the annual Android prediction post. First off though, a trip down memory lane with a look at Aaron's post from last year.

A Look Back To 2011

Way back in January 2011, we were all gobsmacked at the recent announcement of 300,000 Android activations per day. That looks cute now, doesn't it? A year later and it's more than doubled, now we're up to 700,000 per day. That's just incredible. Android could hit a million activations per day by the end of the year.

Last Year's Predictions

Tablets: The New Netbook - Netbooks definitely died. Android tablets, though, had very little to do with it. Tablets are much more refined than the 7 inch Galaxy Tab we were stuck with last year (giant phone apps!), but today, the app selection still isn't there. Google deserves as much blame as anyone, Google Docs on a tablet is borderline unusable, and G+ and Voice don't have tablet layouts either. It just doesn't seem like Google takes tablets seriously. Netbooks were mainstream consumer products, and Android tablets, well, aren't.

Dual-Core CPUs For Everyone! - Yep, nailed it! 2011 even saw the (semi) release of a quad core tablet. The processor gods have been good to us.

Manufacturer UIs: Stayin' Alive! - "Love them or hate them, they won't go away." Ugh. Yep. OEM skins are still here. In 2012, things seem to be even worse. Manufacturers have adopted a strategy of "Differentiation at any cost," regardless of how negative it is for the end user. At least Gingerbread was ugly. Ice Cream Sandwich is a beautiful, fresh new look for Android, but OEMs plan to just wipe it away and dump the same old skins on top. It's like vandalizing a piece of art. It's criminal.

Fragmentation Sucks. Does Google Have a Solution?

fragmentation!

Nope. Google tried to get manufacturers to take upgrades seriously with the Android Alliance, but it's obvious that was a broken promise. At the end of the day, OEMs see no financial incentive to rush out updates. The Motorola purchase will hopefully have a competitive effect on fragmentation. Check out that section for details.

Android Owned 2011

market-share

Overall, Android has had a killer year. Sales have been absolutely through the roof, and any competition is left fighting over the scraps. Ice Cream Sandwich has brought some serious refinement to Android, and 2012 looks to be even better.

So, here we go: My predictions, research, and musings on the future of Android or "Hey Android! You've just won the smartphone wars! What are you going to do next?"

A Look Forward to 2012

Danger 2.0 - The Android Hardware Division

This is going to require some background. Danger Inc. was a cutting edge smartphone company founded by Andy Rubin, Matt Hershenson, and Joe Britt. (They also had a now well-known Director of Design by the name of Matias Duarte.) The company was famous for making the iconic Hiptop/Sidekick line of phones, one of the first affordable, mainstream consumer smartphones. You could multitask, go on the internet, and send emails, and everything was backed up to Danger's servers. Danger was basically building Android 0.01.

Andy Rubin left Danger and founded Android, where he is now the benevolent overlord of around half of the smartphone market. Matias Duarte bounced around the industry, but he eventually wound up back with Rubin, where he is now the Director of Android User Experience. But what about Matt Hershenson, and Joe Britt? Well, at Google I/O 2011, this happened:

Surprise! Andy got the band back together. Rubin's Android division is basically Danger 2.0. And, wait a minute ...what did Hugo say? The Android Hardware Engineering Team? Yeah that's right, somewhere, deep inside Google, Rubin's old Danger buddies are running an entire team dedicated to hardware.

google-lighting-science-group-android-bulp-4-537x368 android_adk_starter Google-Accessory-Demo-Shield

On-stage at I/O 2011 they announced the Android Open Accessory program, the ADK Arduino board, and Android@Home. These are all fun, geeky projects, but I expect much more out of the former Danger gang.

“If you get a guy who started a company that built a phone, what else are you going to do?”

- Andy Rubin (In The Plex, pg. 226)

That's an excellent point, Mr. Rubin. Why would you bring a bunch of hardware guys into your software company? These guys will spend 2012 cooking up all sorts of fun little toys for us.

With Motorola and all the important bits of Danger, Google has all the parts they need be a full on phone manufacturer. They will still keep the Motorola brand around, and try to appear to not play favorites, but the fact is Google is now more vertical than Apple. Motorola Mobility owns factories around the world, while Apple outsources their manufacturing to companies like Foxconn. Speaking of Motorola:

Motorola: The Ultimate Weapon Against OEM Apathy

I believe Google is fed up with OEMs. They just aren't holding up their end of the bargain. Slow updates, horrible skins, and a lack of enthusiasm for new features, like NFC. OEMs are the weak link in the Android Ecosystem, despite numerous chances to get their act together. Google tried to solve the problem with the Nexus program, but its reach was too limited. Then they tried working on the update problem with the Android Alliance, but OEMs offered only lip service.

It became obvious that manufacturers just didn't share Google's ambition, and, in August 2011, they just couldn't take it anymore. Google went with the nuclear option: they bought Motorola.

"Motorola Mobility’s total commitment to Android has created a natural fit for our two companies. Together, we will create amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, partners and developers. I look forward to welcoming Motorolans to our family of Googlers.” - Larry Page, CEO of Google

"Supercharge the entire Android ecosystem" is the key phrase here. How will Google do that? Competition. Motorola is going to be the flagship Android OEM. Stock Android, hardware that's in line with Google's latest initiatives (like NFC), quality designs, and fast updates. It's like taking the Nexus program mainstream.

It's clear OEMs aren't going to step their game up without some kind of financial incentive. In 2012 the message will be loud and clear: keep up with Motorola or they will crush you. Motorola's fast updates and beautiful, stock software will light a fire under the manufactures, and the Android ecosystem will get better for everyone.

Lots of boring regulatory stuff needs to happen in order for the takeover to be official; Google expects everything to finish up early this year. Then the rebuilding of Motorola can begin.

Motorola Turns Into A Model OEM

Larry Page likes to make a splash. During his first week as CEO, he completely reorganized the company's executive structure, tied everyone's bonus to the success of the company's social strategy, and ordered a complete redesign of every Google site. All of that in 7 days. He's not a timid guy when it comes to action. Page has had around 6 months to plot his first day of Motorola ownership. He will no-doubt come out guns a' blazing as soon as Motorola falls under his rule. We probably won't hear about these things for a few months, but they will happen. Any Motorola news will be hush-hush so as not to scare the other OEMs.

We will definitely hear about the firings. I expect most of Motorola's software team to be fired. Google is notoriously picky about its software engineers. It takes anywhere between 4-9 interviews, you are asked ridiculous questions like "how many golf balls can fit in a school bus?," and all the hiring decisions are done by committee. It's hard to get hired at Google. I really doubt they will suddenly welcome a bunch of scrubs from Motorola who've been responsible for Motoblur. Producing universally-reviled software probably doesn't look good on your resume. The axe man will be working overtime.

This isn't the first time Google has had to cut a large workforce. DoubleClick is a fantastic example of a large Google acquisition. When Google bought the ad platform, they cut 40% of the workforce. Employees were held to Google's hiring standards, and anyone that didn't make the cut, was cut. That meant most of the software engineers. If I was a Motoblur dev, I'd be job hunting right now.

Speaking of Motoblur. Its days are numbered. Google isn't going to be building Android in one division, and ruining it in another. Motoblur will die, and Motorola will become a stock-only Android house.

The Two Most Innovative Android Companies Combine Forces

After the software team is shown the door, Google and Motorola should get along very well. Motorola is easily the most innovative Android OEM: They make every form factor known to man (slates, landscape qwerty, and blackberry style), they're usually the first to market with new processor tech (Droid 1: first Cortex A8, Atrix: first dual core), and the Razr was an innovation showcase (the world's thinnest LTE phone, Kevlar backing, and a water repellent internal coating). And how Googley was the Atrix's Laptop dock? Here's a crazy beta product that's totally ahead of its time, let's release it and see what happens! Motorola seems like the only OEM interested in trying new things and being innovative. They will fit right in with Google.

Google innovations and Motorola innovations will Votron together to form AWESOME Android products. I expect seriously cool things to come out of Googlerola. Just think, how much cooler would a Lapdock be with all Google software and OS-level integration? New pieces of hardware, like NFC, can quickly be integrated into Motorola's next line of phones along with the software support to make it work. The two companies will make Android nimbler, and cool technology will hit more consumers, faster.

Complete Failure In The Set Top Box Market

Motorola Mobility is the leading manufacturer of cable boxes, which means Google is now the leading manufacturer of cable boxes. Never one to fear poking a beehive with a stick, Google will try and get the cable companies to change, and they will fail. Cable execs have already started to batten down the hatches and I'm sure they will vehemently fight against anything even resembling "progress." Google has almost no leverage against them; cable providers can just look elsewhere for boxes. I expect Google to try and build a better cable box, but cable companies have no reason to change; and won't.

Jelly Bean Will Blow Our Minds

Our source tells us he's hearing that the "game-changing stuff" that had originally been scheduled for Ice Cream Sandwich is now being pushed to Jelly Bean - This Is My Next

Waaaaaay back in September 2011, when all that was known about Ice Cream Sandwich was a handful of redacted screenshots (some released right here on AP), This Is My Next (now The Verge) released the above quote. Looking back, it seems pretty accurate. I believe it. (I should point out, Jelly Bean is not the official name. But we have to call the next version of Android something.)

Ice Cream Sandwich, while a worthy upgrade, is almost entirely UI enhancements. The merging of phone and tablet UIs must have been a pretty big job, and as a result most of the cool, new features were pushed to the next version of Android. It's totally plausible. As to what those new features might be? Well I can take a few guesses.

A Major Upgrade To Voice Actions

Voice control has always been the Sci-fi future of computing. Google kicked off the voice race with the launch of Voice Actions for Android, and Apple brought their usual brand of we-invent-everything hype and fawning press coverage to the party with Siri. Voice Actions is seriously due for an upgrade, it's almost been a full year since any new functionality was added. Google employs way too many natural language experts to not have something cooking.

A particularly believable rumor that's been flying around is of "Majel," the supposed codename for the evolution of Voice Actions. The project is named after Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, the voice of the Star Trek computer. The basic idea, if you haven't guessed, is to just build the Star Trek computer. A computer you can talk to, that talks back.

What makes this believable, you ask? Well, everyone, across the entire company, won't shut up about Star Trek. They mentioned it when they bought Phonetic Arts, and again in their Evolution of Search video, and at the Galaxy Nexus launch. If fact, when asked where Google's answer to Siri was, Matias Duarte basically laid it out for us:

"Our approach is more like Star Trek, right, starship Enterprise; every piece of computing surface, everything is voice-aware. It’s not that there’s a personality, it doesn’t have a name, it’s just “Computer.” And you can talk to it and you can touch it, you can interact with it at the same time as you talk with it. It’s just another way to interface with the computer."

So more voice controls are coming. The only question is when. The Majel rumor said the end of 2011, which has come and gone. I'm putting my money on Jelly Bean.

UI Scaling For External Displays

In Ice Cream Sandwich, the tablet OS and the phone OS are the same thing. Most of the tablet and phone apps are actually the same apk. Your phone even has the ability to turn into a tablet. Here, I'll prove it:

IMG_20120101_014403

Grab a rooted Galaxy Nexus, crank the software DPI down to 160, and bam! you've got a tablet. This UI doesn't work well on a screen this small, but what about when I plug my phone into a TV, or dock it into a crazy tablet or Lapdock? Well someone asked this very question at Google I/O:

So plans are in the works to switch screen modes on the fly. Plug into a larger screen, and the apps and OS rearrange make the most of it. Just imagine this with one of the crazy devices Motorola loves to cook up. A more refined Lapdock that would switch to tablet mode would be pretty cool.

Google TV Merges With Android

Android-TV

When Google TV was announced, Android was on 2.2, a smartphone-only OS. There were a million problems with using Android on a television. It wouldn't run on Google TV's x86 processor, the UI wouldn't scale to something appropriate for a TV, there was no support for peripherals like remotes and keyboards, and many parts of the OS and apps demanded telephony hardware and a touchscreen in order to function. In 2010, it totally made sense to make Google TV a separate project.

So GTV did just that, trying to be Android compatible, but never really being "Android." They ported as many Android parts as possible to x86, maintained Android APK compatibility, and built whatever else they needed. They seemed to have almost no communication with the Android team; Honeycomb came to Google TV about 8 months after its debut. That's the kind of time frame Motorola customers are used to dealing with, and that's embarrassing for a 1st party project.

Now though, Ice Cream Sandwich natively supports x86, it works on screens of all sizes, there's native USB host support for all kinds of peripherals, and being "a phone" is no longer a requirement. Combine this with GTV's less than stellar sales, and horrified partners, and you have to ask: Why is Google TV still a separate project? The ICS UI can effortlessly handle phone and tablet interfaces, so why not phone, tablet, and TV interfaces?

All of the reasons for GTV to exist separately are no longer valid, it's time to make the team a division of Android, and end all the wasted time chasing the latest version. Fold GTV into Android, just like the tablet OS. It's just one more DPI range, and maybe a new launcher.

Actually, it's total revamp time. Let Matias Duarte spruce up that UI (because right now GTV is butt ugly), and change the name. "Google TV" brings to mind a boring, white search box, and the name has gotten non-stop bad press. "Android TV" is much more descriptive of what it actually is, and it sounds way more exciting. It conjures up vibrant images of apps, games, widgets and notifications, and implies cool remote functionality with your other Android devices.

I should also point out, I am not a proponent of merging Android and Chrome OS. They are trying to accomplish two different things. GTV and Android are trying to accomplish the same thing, so it makes sense for them to merge.

Intel CPUs Will Melt Your Eyeballs And Your Battery

In 2010, Smartphones started outselling PCs. Smartphones and tablets are the future, and Intel knows it. They've been plugging away at a mobile x86 CPU for something like 7 years. Intel wants, desperately, to be in the mobile market. This will be the year they will finally do it.

 Screen%20Shot%202011-12-21%20at%203.37

"Medfield" is the system on a chip they'll be pushing this year. It's basically an Atom CPU with all the modems and RAM and stuff a smartphone needs. That's right, an Atom. Intel wants to put a full-on netbook CPU in your smartphone or tablet. LG is rumored to be building a phone with one of these beasts, we'll have to see just how ready for prime time it is at CES.

Why has it taken years for Intel to break into the mobile market? In a word: Power. Intel's chips have been way too power hungry. The first generation that actually makes it to market will probably come in just under the wire of acceptable power usage. That means crap battery life. We're probably looking at Thunderbolt-level staying power. It will be crazy fast, but it will need to be tethered.

Still though, this is exciting. It's the first step towards the new age of Android processors. An age of Intel domination. Ice Cream Sandwich elevated x86 to a fully supported architecture, all Intel needs to supply now is the hardware. The version after Medfield will have much lower power usage, and in a year or two I expect Intel to crush ARM chips.

1

Microprocessor manufacturing is mostly a game of scale, and nobody has bigger scale than Intel. They own something like 84% of the CPU market. Their crazy scale means they have a ton of cash to invest in their chip production. As a result they are usually a full generation ahead of everyone else when it comes to transistor size. The cutting edge, quad core Nvidia Tegra 3, which just started shipping in December 2011, uses a 40 nm manufacturing process. That's cute. Intel was shipping 32 nm processors almost 2 years ago. In 4 months they will be on 22nm. Intel is just in a whole other league when it comes to processor technology. Even if you have a better architecture and design, but it's hard to compete when Intel has smaller transistors than you do.

x86 software is going to be a huge pain in the butt for everyone. Normal apps should be okay, but anything written using the NDK will be incompatible with x86. That means 3D games will need special version for Intel chips. Bring some Advil.

The Facebook Phone

At some point in the near future. Facebook will pull a Kindle. They will fork Android, strip out all the Googleyness, and pile their own crap on top of it. They have to. Everyone that fires up a Galaxy Nexus is prompted to join Google+, if OEMs leave that in ICS, that's 700,000 G+ advertisements a day.

Go look at your news feed, how many updates are from mobile phones? Mobile is the future, and Google is on track to own it. I'm sure Facebook has nightmares of Google using their dominant mobile position to push HARD for G+ signups, and they will feel the need to respond. Forking Android automatically wins you the app battle, a game you can't win with someone like Microsoft, and Apple doesn't want to partner with you. An Android based Facebook phone is the best response to Google's hypothetical Android/G+ hybrid. Facebook even has an ex-Android PM running their mobile division. They've even dipped their toe in the Android waters.

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On the left is the Motorola ROKR. It was the first phone Apple was in involved with. Apple announced it at a media event. It worked with iTunes and could play all your Apple music. It was basically Apple's test drive of the cell phone market. 2 years later they launched the iPhone.

On the right is the HTC Cha Cha. It (along with the HTC Salsa) was the first phone Facebook was involved with. It sported a front button that would take you directly to a Facebook app or share whatever you are currently viewing. I'm seeing similarities in strategy here. Anyone else?

So what would a Facebook phone look like? (Readers with weak stomachs may want to skip this paragraph) Just think of the synergy! A homescreen status update bar! Your friends are your contacts! Messenger is your email! Events is your calendar! A 24/7 Chat connection! A search page that promotes Facebook pages! Bing Maps and check-ins! Your Photos are your Gallery! Automatic camera uploads! A Facebook app store! "You've just made a phone call to bob! would you like to share it on your wall?"

I'm sure Facebook's collective head is just spinning with the possibilities.

The Long Shot: Google Robots!

Yes that's right, I said it. Robots. My crazy, long shot prediction is that Google will release (or have a big hand in) a consumer level robot of some kind.

Google just loves robots. Larry Page is a big robot fan, and is very fond of big, scary projects that take lots of time and money. And I'll just say Andy Rubin called his company "Android" for a reason. Google isn't shy about its robot love: They were all over the place at Google I/O.

iRobot had a session at I/O, and Willow Garage (makers of the most advanced robot ever, and stewards of ROS, the open source Robotic Operating System) and Google gave a 40 minute joint talk on Cloud Robotics. During the introduction, one of the presenters casually drops this bomb on the audience:

We're both on the Cloud Robotics team at Google, Which I'm sure you've never heard of before today. -Ryan Hickman, Google I/O 2011 Cloud Robotics Talk

So Google has a Cloud Robotics team. How cool is that?

During the talk, the Google Cloud Robotics team talked about how the Android Open Accessory API meant you can now use all of an Android device's modems and sensors for your robot. Willow Garage and Google also worked together to port ROS to Java, saying "This new library was developed at Google with the goal of enabling advanced Android apps for robotics." In fact, iRobot had a Motorola Xoom-Bot at I/O:

What do you think Google Goggles is? It's robot vision. Voice Typing is robot hearing. Google Maps is robot location and navigation. The Phonetic Arts acquisition is a robot voice. Google's cloud compute gives you unlimited robot brain power. Google has many robot parts, they just need to put it in a robot.

And I almost forgot to mention Google's totally in-house, working robot platform: Google self driving cars. A few years ago, Google hired the Director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and his team, and threw money at them to make this car happen. The New York Times says Google wants to turn them into a real product, and they may even manufacturer the cars themselves.

When this is done, Google will have built a world class robot navigation solution, which can no doubt be adapted for indoor navigation as well.

A Google Bot of some kind is coming. Robots are the next big technology industry. Google has the money, brains, ambition, and desire to make it happen. It just makes too much sense.

Conclusion

This article would have been a heck of a lot easier to write after CES, which, (oh dear god) is NEXT WEEK. We'll see many companies' plans for a good portion of 2012, and Android promises to be all over the show. It's definitely something to keep an eye on (like you could avoid it).

Well, that's about all I can think of for 2012. It promises to be a wild year. What do you think 2012 has in store for us? What are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments!

Ron Amadeo
Ron loves everything related to technology, design, and Google. He always wants to talk about "the big picture" and what's next for Android, and he's not afraid to get knee-deep in an APK for some details. Expect a good eye for detail, lots of research, and some lamenting about how something isn't designed well enough.
  • http://justreboot.wordpress.com Dei

    To change, and the chaos, panic, excitement, and new pants that come with it! Cheers!

  • Alex

    Great article! I'd also include Google's wearable"heads up display" as a possible long-shot prediction for 2012. I'd assume it will be running some form of Android as well...but perhaps it will be a cloud OS more similar to Chrome?

    • Ron Amadeo

      Thanks!

      The heads up display is my absolute favorite rumor. I just don't think it'll make it for 2012.

      You need a see-through OS, or some kind of software that was designed as a HUD. I don't think you'd just want to use Android.

  • J-Dog

    Is it officially confirmed that Moto is going to be more Nexus like with stock Android phones (which will hopefully have unlocked bootloaders for custom roms) or is that just hopeful speculation?

    Last I heard anything on the subject, people were debating if Moto would be the new Nexus or if Google would still offer the chance up to the other OEMs as well.... Since Moto was going to be ran as an independent company.

    I was going to switch to an HTC phone, since they seem to be the most custom-rom friendly, but... If Moto starts pumping out Nexus style phones...

    • Ron Amadeo

      Speculation. Most of this post is.

      All of that "independent company" stuff is just to placate the other OEMs. If they didn't want to control Motorola, they wouldn't have bought it.

      • J-Dog

        Too bad...

        The other day it popped in my head that if Googleola were to go skin-less, then there would be nothing preventing them from pushing stock ICS updates to all of the Motorola phones in the wild (and hopefully also unlock & decrypt the bootloaders in the process as well as giving us back a nice easy Z4Root type app to root them).

        Imagine waking up tomorrow morning with your phone saying "An OTA update to Android 4.0.1 is ready - upgrade now?" And suddenly ICS jumps from 0.6% of all devices world wide to whatever percent Motorola holds as 100% of Motorola's phones pick it up (as long as hardware supports it).

  • Danny

    Some of these predictions made me moist.

    • http://androidforums.com twospirits

      lol and that comment almost made me pee on myself lol

  • WormDoes

    I loved every bit of this article, until the robot part. I think it's kind of far fetched. Nevertheless a great read. Thanks!

    • Ron Amadeo

      Well... They have a cloud robotics team. They are building robot cars.

      One would assume they would like to make money off of that at some point. Or are you just taking issue with the time frame?

    • bstag

      Hmm lets just say ROSjava is pretty far along. The base platform they are focusing on is solid and used by many universities and hobby robotics groups.

  • Himmat

    Hi! Just wondering, I have an Acer Netbook that is dual-booted with Windows 7 and Android 2.0 or 2.1. Granted, I only ever tried the Android OS on my Netbook once - and it sucked so bad I never used it again.

    However, in light of upcoming Windows 8 tablets and tablet-hybrids, and with touchscreen functionality, do you think it's possible now that Ice Cream Sandwich has native x86 support, we'd see tablets and tablet-hybrids sporting dual-booted Windows and Android OS?

    • Ron Amadeo

      Microsoft used to cut off your vendor licence if you tried to sell a dual boot Windows/Linux machine. They probably still forbid it.

      • Himmat

        My Acer Netbook is an original one that I bought directly from them. I don't know, but if what you say has truth to it, then how come mine has both Android and Windows?

        • Himmat

          Actually a simple Google search will bring you to the truth. All I want to know from you is this a workable idea - having both ICS and Win8 running on a tablet?

        • Ron Amadeo

          Huh... Cool.

          Yeah sure why not? Android is just another Linux based OS. Definitely technically feasible.

          I think they would be pretty rare (like your netbook) because Microsoft hates them.

  • keridel

    i would agree with all of that except motorola.

    i'm really not looking forward to moto being google's go to OEM. i have never owned, used or seen a moto device that didnt make me throw up in my mouth.

    • Doan

      You've never owned, used, or seen a Moto device who's development was directed by Google.

      • Marcus

        It's doubtful we ever will (at least in 2012).

  • http://ARMdevices.net Charbax

    I asked that question about the Google TV and Android merging, I think yea, it should just merge. Because ARM Processors are now powerful enough to playback full 1080p 60fps high profile, and they can even do HDMI intput/output, overlays and IR blaster if a "Google TV Dock" gets sold, the Dock simply needing hardware to merge the overlay graphics on top of the HDMI throughput when needed. I believe $49 ARM Powered Google TV boxes can be sold now. $49 for HD out only Google TV boxes, while the HD in/out/overlay and IR blaster Google TV box needs to cost something like $99.

    • Greg

      Really? Cables? That should be connected via DLNA. I want to launch Android TV app on my phone held in hand and stream the content to an external screen.

      I don't want to dock my phone.

      • Sean

        Not all TVs will support a UI via DLNA, if any at all, surely.

  • Sapko

    Nice article, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  • John Smith

    What a fantastic article. Bravo! Well written, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.

  • Androidrob

    I honestly wish that google had the money to buy samsung and moto and htc because all have their good and bad. Granted samsung is probably the best overall and htc has the best build quality and moto has..... history. Lol

  • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

    Can't say I agree that Gingerbread was ugly. If something was ugly, it was Cupcake - Froyo, with Gingerbread being much better UI-wise. ICS, of course, is the crown jewel.

    • Ron Amadeo

      Oh, ok yeah, I could have worded that part better. It really isn't ugly if you use it in the context it was built for (A Nexus S).

      On higher resolution devices though, the 800x480 assets and layout don't really cut it, and often times things don't fill the screen, thus it looks ugly and needs to be skinned.

      • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

        Phew, finally finished reading and giving you my comments. One of your best pieces yet - amazing work, Ron.

  • Androidrob

    But it is looking more and more likely that google will have the chance to buy out RIM/blackberry n i think they will to have a better hold on the business market. IMO

  • http://androidforums.com twospirits

    This is one awesome article. Alot of it makes perfect sense. I've been saying for a while now that the Nexus line will be going to Motorola. It only makes sense. Especially with the fiasco that Verizon and Samsung recently did with Google Wallet and the device holdup for release. I also feel that the lapdock idea is a great one. If Google and Motorola turn it into a touchscreen with available ports they will have a winning combination.

  • sriracha

    this article is akin to buying a lottery and waiting for the numbers to be drawn. my head is spinning.. and (hopefully) so are my Intel stocks! this is the best writeup of the year! +1'd, will read again.

    and for the self-driving car, i'd like to see the Germans with their hands in on it. BMW did build a diesel 3-series that would drive on it's own a few years ago. and before that MB had a car that was aware of it's surroundings, adjusting speed and distance based on the cars around it. Top Gear covered both.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      And the year just started. :)

  • Nick Coad

    What an excellent article, well done!

  • Ahmad Nadeem

    Awsome article man!!!!! I hoped it to be even longer!!!! I see a "googlier" world ahead :)

  • http://www.theabsurdi.st Karthik

    Brilliant article! I am personally looking forward to the developments in the Android open accessory program. Its going be a wild year ahead!

  • Chris

    The Motorola buyout is an interesting perspective, since the rest of the industry believes its a patent play. It kind of makes sense though, Motorola is already engaged in lawsuits with both Apple and Microsoft, and you have to assume they've already thrown their best ammunition into that.

    I think near the end of 2012 or early 2013, we'll start to see the fruits of the open accessory kit. Every kind of appliance or device imaginable will start to communicate with Android based phones.

    • Google

      That should tip you off - the rest of the industry knows it was a buyout for the patents, while one blogger thinks Google wants to use Moto to build their own phones. Industry consensus vs one blogger.

      DP is a good blog, but Ron has absolutely no idea how a company operates or why mergers take place.

      • Ron Amadeo

        “We did it for more than just patents, The Motorola team has some amazing products.” -Eric Schmidt

        And what do you think "Supercharge the ecosystem" means? Patients would just be "Protecting the ecosystem".

        Honest question, What is the alternative, plausible scenario that everyone else believes?

        Does everyone think Google will liquidate Motorola and destroy an Android OEM, or run Motorola as basically a charity, with no additional benefit to themselves, other than the continuation of the status quo?

        Doesn't it make more sense to buy Motorola to control it, end their bad habits, and put better products in the hands of users?

      • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com Cody

        You clearly have no idea how mergers work either, nor have you read ANYTHING since the day of the announcement of that merger. There's a LOT of people writing who believe Google is going to do more than just run Motorola Mobility as an afterthought. Samsung, in response to the South Korean government, has even publicly suggested that they expect Google to play favorites with Motorola and is planning for that case.

        Google just dumped 2 years worth of profits to pick up Moto. Simply paying off the current and future court cases would have cost 1/10 of that and been a sure thing instead of taking the risk that the patents wouldn't pay off in court. Put bluntly, you don't buy a machine gun to kill a fly.

  • Topgun

    Nice Article!! I foresee that after Q1 and the Moto/Goog deal is done, Google will drop an A Bomb on Apple. Basically use one of Moto's IP and say stop suing everyone or we stop you from selling anything using cellular tech. Then Apple will be stuck in a position to actually compete with real innovations...which they can't. Will be funny to watch though.

  • Marcus

    Re Motorola:

    I dunno why people keep thinking that.

    Google themselves said that they were not gonna mess with the independence of Moto; that the purchase was all about the patents only.

    Up till now Samsung and HTC have done brilliantly by backing Android, and they've have helped extend Google's global reach tremendously.

    Could someone please tell me why they think Google would risk souring their relationship with Sammy, HTC and all the other assorted OEMs by giving Moto preferential treatment?

    • Chris

      Well, Moto is all-in on Android anyways, so its not really messing with their independence to alter their direction on phones and accessories I would say. They could definitely use the help, they are obsessed with speeds and feeds, and make UGLY phones.

      As for the patents, Moto has probably already thrown its best ammunition into its current suits with Apple and Microsoft. I'm not sure how Google would use those patents against Apple and Microsoft again.

  • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com Cody

    I disagree on one front, "Complete Failure In The Set Top Box Market"

    I think they may start that effort towards the end of 2012, but I seriously doubt they are actually going to take it on. I know there's a spectacularly bad quote from Larry Page (or was it somebody else?) suggesting Google TV would be on most TVs by Summer, but I think we all know he was just trying to get the taste of foot back in his mouth since it had been at least a couple of weeks since his last gaffe. Since the acquisition still isn't complete I'm pretty sure they aren't going to see the fruits of that labor until at least the middle of Q2. Even the first release is probably going to be more in line with what GTV is today, but with Google's own content services fully integrated a la Apple TV. There won't be a real contention with cable companies until Q4 at the earliest, at which point we won't even see results until well into 2013.

    Also, something I may have misunderstood, but I thought that Motorola proper was the manufacturer of the cable boxes, not Motorola Mobility (the part Google bought). Either way, that segment is a huge cash cow, and even if Google is the new owner they aren't going to be eager to cut it off at the legs to push Google TV to the detriment of an already very successful product. I suspect Google is more likely to play nice with the cable companies today in the interests of clawing their way in under the radar (as they did with the cellular carriers), this is obviously in stark contrast to the way that Apple is pissing off every cable company out there by trying to obsolete their business out from under them.

    • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com PixelSlave

      If it's not a complete failure, it's at least a 99% failure.

      "this is obviously in stark contrast to the way that Apple is pissing off every cable company out there ..."

      The thing is, Apple isn't even on the radar screen when it comes to the "Set Top Box" market. If Google TV is a 99% failure, then Apple TV must be a 99.5% failure because it has been in the market for an even longer times but it changes nothing.

      The company that Google needs to be aiming at is Microsoft. Yes, you read me right, the old dying Microsoft. There are a lot more Xbox 360 hooking up to people's TV than Google TV and Apple TV COMBINED. And, the Xbox 360 is increasingly integrated with video components. On top of that, Apple may be pissing off every cable company out there, but Google isn't doing any better neither. On the other hand, Microsoft found some ways to sleep with the cable companies as it's partnering with them to deliver content through the Xbox platform. What makes Microsoft even more dangerous in this game? If a next generation of Xbox 360 is released tomorrow, you bet there will be lines outside Best Buy waiting to purchase one. I can't say the same thing for either Apple TV or Google TV -- people just aren't too interested in buying a set top box, unless it's a game console that will play your next Call of Duty.

      So, Google shouldn't aim to beat Apple in this area -- it should aim to beat Microsoft instead.

      • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com Cody

        Not sure why you responded to me, nothing you wrote is in the context of what I was commenting on. I was talking about how we won't see or know if Google taking on the cable companies is a failure until 2013 at the earliest. You're declaring the Google TV product a failure, which I certainly wouldn't disagree with at this stage ;) I'll also agree, Apple TV in it's first form was a flop, and the new one hasn't done substantially better.

        You almost have a point with Microsoft, but you're generally wrong about it. Sony is at least 3 years ahead of MS on this front. First, the umbrella of Sony includes a fairly large content publisher, something that MS doesn't have (MSNBC doesn't count). Second, Sony already has a lot of deals in place to be a delivery platform.

        I doubt you know your history on this (few people would remember it), but Microsoft made a play for this market years ago when Vista came out. People were outraged because there was a metric crap-ton of DRM shoehorned into Vista and it was causing problems all over the OS. Those additions were a side effect of a deal MS struck with a consortium of publishers which gave them a huge inroad to distribution of content through Windows, XBox and another set top player that was never released. It's anybody's guess why that deal hasn't really made an impact yet, but it may still be alive.

        I disagree with you, there are a lot of people who would be perfectly happy to buy a set top box as long as it meets 4 criteria.
        - $99 or below, anything above that feels too expensive.
        - It has to be easy to use
        - It has to give them the ability to cut ties with their cable tv provider without significant trade-offs. In other words, it has to give access to the stuff that isn't total mainstream (like Discovery or History channels) and have near first-run timing on any show. Average Joe doesn't want to wait until the end of a season or even a week to watch the latest episodes.
        - It has to deliver major Sports.

        Nobody has delivered more than 2 of these elements successfully. Nobody has even been close to touching sports. Nobody I've heard of is delivering shows like Mythbusters or Dirty Jobs. Until this list is met 90% of the US Market won't even consider leaving behind Cable, even if they really really want to...

  • hugobosslives

    awesome read. cheers for the effort you've clearly put into to thinking about this post.

  • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com PixelSlave

    I hope your Motorola prediction comes true, but deep inside my heart, I fear that it may not be the case. Google, so far, does not seem to have the heart to become so vertically driven.

  • Tushar

    Awesome article :) Loved it!

  • Drew Nusser

    Awesome article. I've thought that Google TV should be using Android for a long time. One industry that this could have a huge impact on is the gaming industry. With Android already supporting USB controllers, and finally getting processors that can easily run the high-end games, why not? Personally, I'd much rather spend $5-$10 on a nice game than the $60 I currently pay for one on a different console. Plus, how nice would it be to use the same box for your TV, movies, and video games? Google could do some serious damage there if they do it right.

  • Nich

    Since we are talking about timing lets take a look at how Google could better time the holiday market in 2012 .

    In 2011 they launched ICS too late . November 14th gave the phone/tablet manufactures too little time to load ICS onto new devices . Even with Samsung working directly with Google they could only get the Galaxy Nexus into customer hands on December 14 ..... that is only 10 days before Christmas ! No other ICS devices launched for the holiday shopping spree . This was a huge timing mistake that Apple did not make .

    In 2012 Google should be launching the next version of Android , lets just call it JB (Jelly Bean) so that it has a name , around October 1 . This will allow 2 months for phone/table manufactures to get JB installed on their new devices and 4 weeks worth of holiday sales . A huge win for manufactures of android phones/tablets and hopefully a win for consumers. This forces manufactures to get the new versions of Android onto phones/tablets in a timely manner or miss the holiday sales spree . January for 2013 should also bring JB to older phones/tablets since the UI overlays would already be done and only device drivers would need updating .

    Better timing , better sales and better user experience ! Win ! Win ! Win !

    -Nich

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com Cody

      Plenty of people outside the US had the Galaxy Nexus before Dec 14. That was Verizon that screwed the pooch on that one.

      I agree otherwise. They really should have had it out the door in October as first predicted. I also wish they would work with the OEMs to make sure that new versions are in their hands a little sooner too, just so the OEMs aren't starting so flat-footed when a new version drops. It makes little sense that HTC (for example) won't be able to deliver an ICS-based phone for at least 2 months after the GN is available.

  • cowgaR

    can't understand nobody is mentioning 'blind type'

    an awesome keyboard misteriously dissapearing after google bought the company

    hopefuly it'll come with jelly android iteration

  • slurms mckenzie

    good article

    u made me realize the bigger picture

  • omer

    Thanks for the well-thought out article, very much appreciated.

    Everyone else seems to be pretty lazy with their Motorola analysis. Clearly this was #1 a patent play, but that doesn't discount the usefulness of Motorola for Google and i think your correct in the direction Google will take Moto.

    I expect you're correct with the robots but i don't think you'll see products until late '13/early'14.

  • Ruperto

    And this is why I love AP. You can't find this anywhere else. Thanks guys!

  • KnightCrusader

    Best part of the article:

    "Motoblur will die, and Motorola will become a stock-only Android house."

    God I only hope so... we need some AOSP slider solutions in the market and with few exceptions, Moto is the only one still actively producing top-of-the-line sliding phones.

  • Interest

    Products like the Galaxy Note suggest that Moto isn't the ONLY company innovating with Android product!

  • Aeires

    WTH, no predictions on Android being interfaced into automotive systems on a greater scale? Instead of having to take your car and tablet to a mod shop to integrate them, buy the car with an Android tablet already installed. Pandora and Google Maps is just the start.

    Mixed feelings on the predictions of Motorola's purpose, I'm a big Samsung fan and would hate to see them go elsewhere with their mobile works. Google did just force HOLOS onto them, keep doing that in small doses and they'll have to integrate more into Google's way of doing things. As long as the money is there, they'll follow suit.

    And finally, something about Majel, thank you. Siri is good (yet still beta) but if Google can get Majel going, Apple's bragging rites are dead. From what I've read about Majel, it's going to really open some eyes to what true voice control can be. Things are looking bright for the little green robot.

    • Ron Amadeo

      This is what I think will happen, not what I want to happen. Believe me, I want some kind of Android car initiative, but I haven't seen Google show any interest in it.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/6G2IL3MJNDXSYMESKE225EEGZI R B

    Love the idea of the robots. As for voice activation in phone i am certainly  looking forward to Majel. But I can't keep delaying upgrading my phone forever. I thought majel would be out in April, at least Google is not releasing a "beta" version- 
    Btw- here is a column about challenges for Google absorbing motorola.
    http://www.richmakesyourich.com/2012/04/challenge-of-digesting-motorola-for.html
    hope you like.

  • Al B

    Robotics still remains out of reach for many students and researchers due to the high complexity of the hardware and the software, and their typically high cost. However the computing power, sensing capabilities, and intuitive programming interfaces of modern smartphones afford an inexpensive yet highly capable robotic platform. Android based robots are becoming increasingly popular with many exciting applications emerging in both academia and industry (e.g. PhoneSat, SPHERES, etc.).

    As a case in point, we created a robot that can recognize, track, and follow a specified color object as well as have the ability to avoid obstacles in its way. Here is the preliminary result:

    http://youtu.be/vkvkfcqEUkk

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