Skip to comments.Google Android counts include rival Chinese variants
Posted on 02/02/2011 5:17:26 PM PST by Swordmaker
Hot on the heels of Samsung admitting that it had exaggerated sales of its Android tablet to consumers, it is becoming clear that Google's Android platform definition is being stretched to include Chinese rivals, including China Mobile's Ophone and Tapas OS, a project run by the former president of Google China.
A report by Canalys yesterday claimed that Google Android platform had taken the top spot in global smartphone platforms worldwide, edging in front of Nokia and making up about a third of all smartphones globally.
That fourth quarter figure, collective of all manufacturers using Android in some fashion, is double that of Apple's Q4 iPhone sales, a dramatic reversal of last year, when Apple's sales were twice that of all Android licensees together, according to Canalys.
However, the report's numbers included a footnote saying the "Google numbers" "relate to Android, as well as the OMS and Tapas platform variants."
In reference to these "variants," John Gruber of the Daring Fireball wrote today, "Are things like maps, email, search, and advertising served through Google? Or do they come from Chinese companies? Put another way, are OMS and Tapas variants of Android, or separate platforms forked from Android?"
OMS is not Google Android
OMS is the basis of China Mobile's OPhone platform, which was originally based on Android software but adapted for use on the national providers' proprietary TD-SCDMA mobile network. A year ago, Engadget reported that China Mobile intended to use OMS to host Symbian and Windows Mobile apps, and was preparing support for a cloned copy off Microsoft's Windows Mobile APIs in OMS 2.0.
Over the last year, Microsoft has largely abandoned Windows Mobile to focus on its Silverlight-based (and therefore API incompatible) Windows Phone 7, making such a feature seemingly less valuable. However, China Mobile is largely isolated from competition from other smartphone makers, few of which have jumped to support its unique TD-SCDMA carrier technology. That allows it to take Western technologies and appropriate them as desired, much as the nation has created its own incompatible variants of everything from DVD to WiFi.
Describing the Chinese OMS as a "variant" of Google's Android platform is a troublesome stretch not just because China Mobile lacks any interest in using its forked version to support Google's ad platforms and services. OMS is also tweaked to use its own APIs and support WAP for web browsing. WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) is a mobile website technology that replaced the full Internet for mobile users there but hasn't ever caught on in the US.
China Mobile's OMS is therefore not only "not Google," its also incompatible with Android apps, and apparently more compatible with Windows Mobile. A report by an Asian technology newsletter said China Mobile issues its own SDK for OMS, and boasts around 600 apps for the OPhone. The company claims 430,000 developers for its platform. It invites Android developers to create apps for OMS, but the two are not the same platform in any meaningful sense.
Tapas OS is not Google Android
A parallel effort, named Tapas OS, is also derived from Android but similarly does nothing to benefit Google or other users of the Android platform. Launched by Kai-Fu Lee, the former president of Google China, Tapas is also modified to support Chinese social networks, ebooks, video sites, search and other services that are not connected to Google.
Calling Tapas a version of Android is like calling Baidu a version of Google or Youku a version of YouTube. Like OMS, Tapas is an Android competitor. Speaking of Chinese efforts to replicate Western technologies, Lee said in a Wall Street Journal profile, "American companies often have a technology lead, as Google did. However Baidu evolved and became good enough."
Lee added, "Were not trying to reinvent the wheel."
Lee announced deals with Sharp, Haier and Tianyu to license Tapas OS for phones aimed at China.
Macro-fragmentation of "Android"
How many of the 33 million "Android" handsets are actually benefitting Google and the users of Android platform (who benefit from a larger installed base for apps only if the installed base is actually made up of compatible devices) was not split out by Canalys. Clearly however, such a disclaimer would not need to have been made if the addition of those Chinese rivals had not been necessary to beat Nokia's Symbian.
It's also curious why OMS was not also counted as a Nokia or Microsoft platform if OPhone can claim API compatibility with those platforms in contrast to its inability to run Android apps, including Google's. Doing so would have had an impact on the 615 percent growth reported for "Android."
Gartner similarly counted blockbuster growth for Android in the third quarter of 2011, but relegated most of this growth into a bucket of "other" manufacturers. The top tier of recognizable Android makers, including HTC, Motorola and Samsung, all of which Google has partnered with to release new versions of Android, have all experienced far more moderate growth in sales numbers (or in the case of Motorola, shrinking sales).
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Since I have neither AT&T OR Verizon as an option, my next smart phone will likely be an Android. I’d get an iPhone if I could use it lol. It’s looking like the numbers regarding android are overly hyped at best, and a house of cards at worst. Especially in the area of tablets. After this past year, I believe the iPad has become the ‘default name’ for a tablet. I’ve seen many examples where people will refer to a tablet as an “iPad”, without even seeing what it really is. Just like how the term PC became the default term for a home desktop computer over the years, and an internet search is to “google”. If the iPad continues to dominate through this year, they will have the market so saturated, I don’t see how anyone else could catch up, at least for awhile. It will take something truly remarkable to knock them off, and that Galaxy Tablet ISN’T it. No way....
All well and good BushCountry... except no one has seen one.
And no one was allowed to touch one at CES.
First time in history of CES that a non-working device won Best of Show. What a scam!
BushCountry, I hate to burst your bubble, but that was a mock-up playing an animation of the proposed Xoom working that was shown at CES. That very slick demo being shown there was all sleight of handnone of the apps were really workingwatch the video again, carefully, and you will notice that events supposedly responding to touches occurred both before and after the cause, his touch. Amazing. That's because it's an animation, designed to simulate the device in operation, as he pretends to work it. I loved the page turn on the ebook when he wasn't even touching it. Many others have commented on this, but few of the punditry were willing to declare that King Motorola Xoom has no clothes.
So far, as far as anyone has been able to determine, the Motorola Xoom hardware is hot air ware. It's design has not yet been released to gold master for manufacturing and neither has Android 3.0 for publication.
When Motorola sends out review models to reporters for REAL hands on testing, then we shall see how good it is, or is not. If it's a 3G or 4G cellular model, they have to submit it to the FCC for approval, a 4 to 6 month process before the production model can be released. Short range WIFI has no such restrictions.
damn bushcountry, the last time i read your comments, you were rabid microsoft. glad to see you over here on the linux side.
I was basically impressed by the underlying hardware which is far superior to the iPAD. Even though I really should have read the PC Mag review of the product better. Especially when he said they were only running an animated demo.
Still, I have no doubt that OS and software is not that far behind. Say what you will about Droid sales, but if I look at my 10 closest contacts on my phone, 7 of them use Droid or Android phones (two were previous iPhone users), 2 Blackberries and the 1 that has an iPhone is getting a Samsung Galaxy S phone when his contract expires.
When he first got his iPhone we nickname it his girlphone because he played with it so much. It was far superior to any phone on the market; now the line is getting blurred. This will happen with tablets and it will force better products from both sides. Can’t wait.
Haa, haa... All my son machines are linux... All mine are Windows 7. But I had plenty of linux boxes for fileservers and other chores.
True story I was looking for a tablet and couldn’t find one that I liked. The iPAD is great but I need Active X for RDP and flash. So, I ended up going the opposite route. My new toy will be delivered tomorrow. The Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q870 Notebook is a beast.
That's not a good move unless his contract is expiring soon. The next generation of cell phones will hit over the next six months, with many of the high-end ones being dual-core. The Galaxy S already has a known successor, but it's just a speed-bumped Hummingbird processor with double the RAM. The iPhone 5 is expected to be dual-core with a very powerful GPU. Motorola has some Tegra 2 based phones in the works, really fast stuff.
Thanks, I am sure he will re-evaluate when the time comes. He does / did love his iPhone, so he might end getting the newer version. The problem is, the latest will always be around the corner. The second any device makes it to market it is outdated.
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