I am a full time student attending Clemson University majoring in Computer Science. I am currently researching mobile education solutions on the iPhone, Web, and Google Android. I have also written on Image Processing and has varied interests regarding computing. I also enjoy all types of music, surfing, and sports. Josiah has posted 1 posts at DZone. View Full User Profile

Google's Challenge to the iPhone: Android..

12.01.2008
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Today's smartphone market (North American) is dominated by one phone, the iPhone. Who can challenge this behemoth of commercial glamour? With it's intuitive design, trademark Apple sleekness, and App Store, it has stolen the hearts of many consumers, and turned countless Blackberry users into Apple maniacs. Case in point my father Greg. But many developers have been dissatisfied with Apple's Microsoft like monopolistic closed policies and forced use of proprietary software. Enter Google Android, an open source Java mobile solution that Google has said "will create a truly free environment for third-party developers."
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With the advent of smart phones, many companies have offered a wide variety of solutions, Symbian OS, the iPhone, Windows Mobile, and Blackberry OS all have a large share in the mobile market. The difference? According to Google, "Android is the first free, open source, and fully customizable mobile platform." So how did this all come about?

A Little History
     Everyone loves Google, Google has money. These are two facts key to the evolution of the Android project. In the summer of 2005 Google had more money than it knew what to do with, so it bought a plethora of startup companies. One was a little known company called Android Inc. After much brewing and conjuring over in California, Google courted LG, Samsung, T-Mobile, ebay, Sprint, Intel, and Texas Instruments (among others), who together formed the Open Handset Alliance. Soon after, on November 5th 2007, The Open Handset Alliance announced Android, the world's first truly open and complete mobile platform. A few days later they released a sneak peak of the SDK, . Back to the spell casting over at Google HQ, and the Android Market was announced in late August. Then, on October 21st, 2008 Android was made an open source project. The next day, the T-Mobile G1 was released to consumers, the first android phone.

iPhone vs. Android: A Developers Viewpoint
     As an open-source developer and broke college student, I love free stuff and hate proprietary software. Therefore the Google SDK frankly excites me. Firstly, and this one is huge, unlike Apple, Android allows Java and Flash! Steve Jobs said of Java, "It’s not worth building in. Nobody uses Java anymore. It’s this big heavyweight ball and chain." I'm sure he felt similar about Flash.  I must say that as a Mac lover, I was hurt deeply.  Back to Android, Android as a development environment is comparable to XCode. Android is fully integrated into Eclipse with an interface builder and robust emulator. The documentation is surprisingly good, with nearly every feature shown through detailed code example. Since quite a bit of the Mobile market runs Java, many mobile developers will find that Android is not to big of a leap from past experience. Another integral feature of the platform is the Android Market, Google's answer to Apple's App Store. The publishing policies are much more lenient than Apple's closed approach (which may or may not be a good thing, as we shall see). People who like the words "freedom" and "open" and "keep a larger percentage of my profits instead of giving it to Apple" will love the Android model.

     But the Android is not without it's faults. The nature of Android allows for many different types of phones, with many different screen sizes, resolutions, buttons and on and on. How Google solves this problem could be instrumental in the ultimate failure or success of the Android platform. There are also questions about the speed of Java on the platform (as always when talking about Java) but these worries were directly addressed by the Davlik JVM.  Also, in reference to the Android Market, unfortunately the increased leniency allows for horribly coded applications to appear and clog the Market, ultimately hindering developers.  Still, the prospect of keeping most of you're profits instead of splitting them with Apple is very appealing.

     So with it's combination of an open source, free environment, Java/Flash compatibility and more lenient publishing policies by way of the Market, Android would seem a developer's dream right? Well there's more to this story.


iPhone vs. Android: The Consumer's Viewpoint
     We all know that in the end the consumer will not really care about the "open architecture" "Java support" or "multi-tasking capabilities" that us developer's get so excited about.  In the end what the consumer wants is what actually matters. Thankfully, the Google phone has a lot that will appeal to your regular average person, it's Google integration (Maps, Gmail) is one of the key concepts that could give Google an edge. Their "real web browser" is quite nice. But still, I would have a lot of trouble convincing my technically unsophisticated mother that the Android is better than the iPhone. Why? Polish and shine. The iPhone is undeniably sexy, Apple is undeniably sexy, the things Steve Jobs says are undeniably sexy. The iPhone has a very intuitive interface design, anyone can use it to it's full potential. Will the Google phone be able to approach this level? Despite the iPhone's faults (no multi-tasking, physical keyboard, Java, Flash, or real web browser), it is beautiful, and that will appeal to the majority of consumers.


     What applications does Android need to succeed? Google loves third-party developers, and they will make all the difference. Take a look at these apps.

So will Android be a revolution in mobile technology? I can only hope.

 Josiah Hester is a full time student attending Clemson University majoring in Computer Science.  He is currently researching mobile education solutions on the iPhone, Web, and Google Android.  He has also written on Image Processing and has varied interests regarding computing.

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Published at DZone with permission of its author, Josiah Hester.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

Comments

Jeroen Wenting replied on Mon, 2008/12/01 - 3:11am

apart from the BS about Apple owning the mobile phone market and everyone loving Google (neither is true), a decent article.

Apple might be the biggest in one niche of the market, that for ultra-highend smartphones for kids with too much money and not enough brains, but it's not the biggest player in the market as a whole either in number of units sold nor in turnover.

Similarly, hardly everyone "loves Google". A great many people watch the behemoth carefully and are extremely worried about their ever increasing power and influence over peoples' lives, the massive scale of their harvesting of private data about everyone, an effort that, had they been a government agency, would have long ago led to mass protest and lawsuits.
And that alone is enough reason for me to want nothing to do with them. I don't use their products, and I won't use a mobile phone with their operating system which may well send back details about everything I do with that phone to Google corporate headquarters.

Jos van Weert replied on Mon, 2008/12/01 - 6:09am

I've seen reports that iPhone has more than 30% market share. In North America. It's not dominating, but it is quite impressive. One could say that the main factor contributing to the iPhone success (besides slick design) is that phone market in NA is/was so backward (compared to e.g. Europe). 

Anyway, this war between control freak (Jobs) and (according to Jeroen) omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient G-One should be funny to watch :s.

Michael Easter replied on Mon, 2008/12/01 - 8:21am

 

Josiah, 

The iPhone is popular but are there hard stats that it is dominating the NA market? RIM's Blackberry is very popular with the business and gov't crowd.

FWIW, Here is a fun mashup that depicts the upcoming battleground for the mobile scene:

 http://twitpic.com/pdc5

 

Jeroen Wenting replied on Mon, 2008/12/01 - 8:29am

Jos, those figures are easy to manipulate. Or rather, 30% of WHAT?
I severely doubt they have 30% of the entire mobile phone market covered. If they did, US trade authorities would take notice.

I also doubt they have 30% of all new mobile phone sales in hand. The thing is simply too expensive for that (and the supply too limited given the total sales in the industry).

They might have 30% of the smartphone market, or more likely 30% of the market of highend smartphones in the $500+ segment.
Impressive, but hardly as impressive as they'd want you to believe by claiming they "own 30% of the market" without specifying what exactly they mean by it.

Whichever it is however, it's far less than Goooooooogle's market share in their core sectors, internet advertising and selling privacy sensitive information for marketing purposes.

Jos van Weert replied on Mon, 2008/12/01 - 11:54am

Yeah, I wasn't clear enough - I mean smartphone market - Blackberry, high end Nokia etc. My fault.

Surveys I've seen claims that Blackbarry has ~35% market share and iPhone ~30%. They are usually NA centric. I would be suprised if iPhone gets more than 5% in Europe.

Mike P(Okidoky) replied on Mon, 2008/12/01 - 12:30pm

I sincerely hope Apple will stumble flat on its face with their hyper arrogant attitude.

Steve is a complete insult to Java developers. I happen to think that I work on a pretty cool platform, with a pretty cool programming language, backed by 1000's and 1000's of people making libraries, sub routines, and engaged in online communities. I can pull off some pretty cool stuff in Java. On the server, and yes, very much so, on the desktop. To be dismissed by the leader of what should be a cool company, Apple, in the name of being different for the sake of being different, because that's their business model, *will* result in some serious stiff opposition, "Mr Jobs". Investors take notice. Apple might have peaked. Perhaps *that* will catch their attention.

I for one, will NOT be flaunting around any Apple products any time soon.

Go Google go!

Serge Bureau replied on Mon, 2008/12/01 - 1:05pm in response to: Mike P(Okidoky)

[quote=okidoky]

I for one, will NOT be flaunting around any Apple products any time soon.

Go Google go!

[/quote]

You do not really use it then.

Comparing Android to the IPhone is ludicrous.

I like Java, but the IPod touch is unbeatable, instead of talking the Java communauty should have acted.

As far as they are not accepting Flash, BRAVO !!!!

Java still has to prove it can handle those type of devices, to me it has not.

So keep your toy Android, I definitely stick to my IPod Touch.

Dmitri Trembovetski replied on Mon, 2008/12/01 - 1:25pm

> this one is huge, unlike Apple, Android allows Java and Flash!

Strictly speaking, Android doesn't "allow" Java, if by Java one means the Java platform. It only allows you to program in a language with Java syntax.

Dmitri

 

Josiah Hester replied on Mon, 2008/12/01 - 2:05pm

Actually, this is not entirely true, and it also depends on what you consider "Java" to be, the actual language, or the liscensed platform released by Sun (in fact, IBM and other people have their own versions of the Java platform, so really the "Java Platform" is open to interpretation.)

 What happens on the Android is that first the code is compiled into Java Bytecode, then the dv tool is used to compile into the Dalvik JVM.

 

Dmitri Trembovetski replied on Mon, 2008/12/01 - 2:34pm in response to: Josiah Hester

 

Josiah, you're incorrect.

What Java Platform is is not "open to interpretation". It's very simple - the implementation must pass the TCK in order to be called Java.

Google didn't license Java platform from Sun (like IBM did) for the Android platform, neirther did they certified it using the TCK (like the icedtea project, which is based on the OpenJDK) - and they can't, really, since their implementation is missing large pieces from the Java platform API specification and includes some non-platform API so it is impossible for them to pass the TCK (not that they care).

Thus Android can not be called "Java", or "Java Platform" . If you look at their documentation and presentation materials they are very careful not to call it either of those things, but instead "Java language-based", which it is.

Dmitri

 

Josiah Hester replied on Mon, 2008/12/01 - 11:36pm in response to: Dmitri Trembovetski

Point taken, I see where youre coming from, I'm afraid I just have a more liberal view/use of the word "Java."

I must say it is easier to say "Java" than "java syntax based programming"

Thank you for your information.

Mike P(Okidoky) replied on Mon, 2008/12/01 - 6:02pm

All this dancing around Java by all these companies is just plain annoying. Soon, mobiles will have the performance and capacity of those little netbooks that are going around, and then we're done with all this crap for once and for all.

No more pussy footing, just a normal computer with normal Java in our pockets. In the meantime, you can keep those crappy gadgets, I'm fed up.

Manjuka Soysa replied on Mon, 2008/12/01 - 10:46pm

Good post, however I find this quite offensive :-)

 the things Steve Jobs says are undeniably sexy.

 

Hope Android phones gets the touch-screen motions for scrolling, zooming etc. working as smoothly as the iPhone. These will eventually find their way to any kind of touch-screens, so Java (at least in JavaFX) will also need to support them soon enough.

Jay Spring replied on Mon, 2008/12/01 - 11:10pm

"I must say it is easier to sa "Java" than "java syntax based programming""

 

 

Eh? Am I getting that old and the only one who still thinks of java as a fairly decent implementation of the saying "write once, run anywhere". A language goes much deeper than the syntax. if you think for a moment why google used the java language, and went off and implemented their own vm, you will see that view point there is more than syntax as well. 

 

There are also questions about the speed of Java on the platform (as always when talking about Java) but these worries were directly addressed by the Davlik JVM.

 What is this Dalvik JVM you speak of? There's not even a JIT...

 

 

Josiah Hester replied on Mon, 2008/12/01 - 11:35pm in response to: Jay Spring

All the information on the Dalvik information is on this site:

 Dalvik

One of the big things with Dalvik is it's supposedly optimized to run in multiple instances, unlike ME and SE.

Also a VERY interesting discussion of the Dalvik JVM and many many different viewpoints on what Java is and where it belongs etc.  Is on ONjava.com 

I guess technically I cant call it a JVM anymore :-)

Dmitri Trembovetski replied on Tue, 2008/12/02 - 2:28pm in response to: Josiah Hester

> unlike ME and SE.

Actually some JavaME JVMs do run multiple applications in one vm.

Dmitri

 

Josiah Hester replied on Tue, 2008/12/02 - 6:58pm

Really? I was unaware of that.  Could you provide some links? I would be interested in looking into that..

Dmitri Trembovetski replied on Wed, 2008/12/03 - 2:32am

http://developers.sun.com/learning/javaoneonline/j1sessn.jsp?sessn=TS-3742&yr=2006&track=mobility

http://www.arm.com/news/hottopics/15717.html

 And so on.

 

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