Every week (or so) I post an overview on what’s been happening in the mobile (browsing) world and is relevant to Mozilla.
- New Android version, 4.1, and new device(s) rumoured for Google I/O
- Android dominates the Chinese smartphone market with 55%, iOS at 12%
- ZTE looking to expand to high-end range and Western markets
- Microsoft showed the Windows Phone 8 platform, its next proposition for smartphones
- Amazon app stores to open to Western European countries
- Mobile payments main factor for growth of NFC applications
In the week before Google’s I/O event details about upcoming announcements leaked. They include a new version for Android, v 4.1, code-named Jelly Bean and a 7 inch Nexus tablet, rumoured to feature the latest software version on a 1.3 GHz Tegra 3 processor with 1 GB of RAM at a very competitive $199 price tag.
Android is the dominant smartphone operating system in China with 55% of the install base in Q1 2012, according to an iiMedia report. On second place there is Symbian, with 25%, followed by iOS, with a 12% share. The report puts the total number of active smartphones in the country to 252 million devices, which combined with the market of Web-enabled feature phones puts the country at a total of 372 million mobile Web users. Android’s dominance in China puts the amount of different device models to over 2 000, which includes units of forks of the Android source code developed among others by Baidu and Alibaba.
ZTE, one of the Chinese handset producers looking to make a presence in Western smartphone markets, announced its goal of selling 35 million smartphones in 2012 as part of its effort to become the number 3 smartphone vendor in the world by 2015. In 2011, the company shipped 15 million units, mostly in Asia. To accomplish this goal ZTE is launching models to compete in the high-end of the spectrum, which complement its already well developed medium and low-range offering. The new devices will be part of the upcoming Grand range, which debuts with the launch of the ZTE Grand X, a dual-core Tegra 2 CPU and Android v 4.0 model, to be available across Europe and Asia. A x86-based device is also expected to be part of the new range.
Microsoft showed the Windows Phone 8 platform, its next proposition for smartphones. The defining characteristic for the new platform is the adoption of the NT kernel, the same one that has been used in the Windows environment for the desktop since XP, to replace the Windows CE one that Microsoft has been using for its mobile platforms. This shift provides better hardware support, including for multicore processors, more file systems and device drivers and enables the writing of native applications in C++. This change will not allow for current Windows Phone 7 devices to be updated to the new version; they will instead receive an update to v 7.8 to bring similarity from a user experience perspective.
The new Windows Phone 8 will ship on devices this fall and will include top-of-the line hardware with support for multi-core processors, a NFC-based mobile wallet solution and Internet Explorer 10. Microsoft will emphasize synchronization capabilities between its desktop and mobile Windows offering and provide content synchronization features through NFC technology. Internet Explorer 10 claims to be 4 times faster and to have 2 times more HTML5 feature support than IE on Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) and will also introduce a proxy-browsing mode.
Amazon plans to rollout the international version of its app store later this year, starting with the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain. The company has reached out invitations to developers to submit their mobile applications to be distributed in these new countries. Launched on the 22nd of March 2011 with an app inventory of 3 800, the store grew to 31 000 in the course of an year. The store’s main differentiators are the 1-Click purchasing and TestDrive features. This effort has raised rumours about a potential international sale of the company’s Kindle Fire tablet and a different set of rumours points to a version 2 launch on the 31st of July.
Mobile payments are the fastest-growing application of NFC technology in the Asia-Pacific region, according to Datacard, a payment solutions provider in the area. The main driver for the growth are emerging markets that skip the PC stage and move directly to mobile. By 2015 there are expected to be 863 million NFC-enabled smartphones in the market, according to Frost & Sullivan.