2011: A year in Mobile
It’s been a massive year for mobile tech! We’ve seen Web OS become Web Open Source, love what they did there; WP7 Mango got released, which is apparently a big deal; Ice Cream Sandwich has been released to the world and the iPhone 4S was a massive disappointment. RIM is apparently still around but I don’t believe the rumors.
For the four big players: IOS, Android, WP7 and Blackberry 2011 has been a pretty interesting year. Steve Jobs’ death has been one of the big events of the year, and it has certainly put a flavor on how the companies are going to be in 2012. I personally think that his death affected Apple much more than it has been speculated. Let’s face it the iPhone 4S was a massive anti-climax. Even the most devout Apple fan-boy did a slight double take when it was released and let out a soft exclamation of disappointment. But that’s just the iPhone 4S, much of the rest of this year has been full of wonderful updates, surprises, evolutions and improvements.
WP7 had its Mango update, I have never used WP7 for more than five minutes in a shop, but the interface is pretty slick and according to all my mates with WP7 devices Mango has shunted the OS into relevance for early 2012, which is nice. I don’t mean to sound dismissive, I love the fact Microsoft is trying to get back into the smartphone market. The more the merrier in my opinion; I love Android too much to switch anytime soon but think that the more choice that the consumer has the better it is for everyone. I used WM back in the day and it had some really awesome aspects to it, so it’s nice to Microsoft keeping its toe in the door.
Talking of doors, Rim and its Blackberry OS. I think the door is closing as we move into 2012. From personal experience it is clear to see that Rim is loosing market share. Putting graphs, data and pie charts to one-side and looking at my friend group it is pretty apparent. Granted this is one demographic of publicly educated predominantly British teenagers, but it shows a pretty clear trend. Four years ago BlackBerrys were “cool” BBM was everywhere and Blackberry was the place to be. The odd person had an iPhone but they were generally considered to be more of a PSP or iPod alternative for the rich kids, BlackBerrys were for the uber sociable average teen. The two of us with Android phones, two HTC Heroes back in the day, were thought pretty alternative and individual. However fast-forward to the present day and everyone I know who had a Blackberry has either got rid of it and migrated to the iPhone or Android, or has got a Blackberry purely for BBM but a cheap ‘throw-away’ phone for everyday use as their Blackberry just isn’t reliable or robust enough. This is where it has been for all of 2011, and despite releasing the odd new handset RIM has failed to make any drastic changes or improvements to Blackberry and I think it is probably on the way out. At risk of sounding sage and whimsical I think that this time next year Blackberry will either be floundering in it’s last throws or gone the same way as WebOS; HTC built Blackberry phone anyone?
And finally Android. This has been Android’s year, no doubt about it. We’ve seen dual-core, had a little taste of quad-core, been dazzled by 720p HD screens and generally had a great time. I currently use an SGS2 and, I always say this when I have a new phone, but if I wasn’t a geek I would have no desire to upgrade it for a few years. I think it is the best phone on the planet right now, it’s light and fast with a gorgeous screen, what else do you want on a phone? I’m obviously something of a fan-boy boy but this year Android has grown at a huge rate, phones and tablets have become more powerful than anyone could have foreseen at the start of 2011, and the updates Google has made has kept the OS at the top of its game. Google have worked wonders with the market, integrating Google Music and tidying up the front end on both portable devices and in browser. ICS, though far from perfect, is a great update to android, the UI looks slick and the whole OS looks much more streamlined and unified. The soft buttons could be a good thing in future iterations of the OS, but I think their need to be a few changes to make me really want a phone with no hardware buttons. But on the whole I think the update has struck all the right notes. Role on ICS for the SGS2!
To sum up: I think RIM is going down; Apple will have to do something brilliant in the new year (and stop suing people); Android is marching smartly on and I look forward to seeing how WP7 continues to evolve over 2012.