Android and mobile browsing insights – Week 25
by Irina Sandu
- Top Developers allowed to reply to reviews in the Google Play store
- Dolphin Engine is a new implementation of the mobile browser with enhancements on the platform level scoring 450 points on html5test.com
- Samsung Galaxy S III getting good reviews
- Microsoft announced a tablet line for Windows 8 called Surface
- Entry-level devices to account for 40% of the smartphone market in China in 2015, up from 25% currently
- Postpaid subscriptions first time on the decline in the US
- Bharti Airtel and Softbank to open mobile portal in India
The Google Play Store has started to allow developers to reply to reviews of their applications directly inside the marketplace comments section. This feature is currently only available for organizations with Top Developer badges and it might be rolled out in the future to the other developers, as well.
Mobotap, the company behind Dolphin HD, released a new implementation of the browser, in beta, which is called Dolphin Engine. The release coasts an improved webkit version that scores 450 points on the HTML5 test, significantly higher than any other browser (Chrome beta is at 371, native browser at 280). The version boasts enhancements to canvas, 2D context and GPU accelerated canvas rendering and claims full support for Web Workers, Web Sockets, Web Audio, as well as support for Camera real-time video display, Web Notification, Web GL.
The Samsung Galaxy S III, the latest flagship device of the top Android handset manufacturer has been enjoying good reviews in the press this past week, with analysts praising the sleek hardware design, good screen, camera and battery and good performance on the dual-core 1.5 GHz CPU in US devices and the quad-core ones in international versions. The S Voice feature, an equivalent to Siri on the iPhone, has been reviewed as an area for improvement.
Microsoft announced a tablet line for Windows 8 called Surface. The line includes 2 models, one to compete in the large tablet segment and show the Metro interface on ARM architecture and one aimed at the ultrabook market to feature the Pro interface on Intel’s chipsets. The ARM-based version will launch together with Windows 8 and the Intel-based on will follow 3 months later. They will be sold initially in Microsoft’s retail and online stores.
Entry-level devices to remain a major growth driver for the Chinese smartphone market, as models sub-US $ 200 will account for over 40% of the market by 2015, growing from 25% this year according to a report by Canalys. Hardware specifications for $ 160 devices are rising, with China Unicom requesting for 4-inch displays and 1 GHz CPUs, more than the 3.5 inch screens and 600 MHz processors required in Q3 2011. Local players will continue to play a role in the shaping of the Chinese market, particularly in the low-end smartphone area, where Baidu and Alibaba both have announced strategies of entering the market. The high-end, over $400 range will keep being dominated by vendors such as Samsung, Apple and HTC, while the middle range is easier accessible to local tier-one brands such as Huawei and ZTE.
The US market has experienced the first ever decline in postpaid mobile subscriptions to the advantage of prepaid solutions, which reached 25% of the market. The US is not representative of the worldwide situation, where prepaid is a lot more prevalent, reaching approx. 70% in Western Europe and up to 70% and 95% in areas like China, India and Africa. Analysts explain this trend change in the US as a result of mobile market saturation and increased price sensitivity for their mobile connectivity charges.
Bharti Softbank, the joint venture between Bharti Airtel, the largest mobile operator in India, and Japan’s Softbank, together with Yahoo Japan, have announced the launch of an Internet portal in India. Yahoo Japan is the most visited site in Japan and is partly owned by Softbank. The purpose of the joint venture between the Indian and Japanese network operators is to provide mobile web services in India, where mobile access is bound to overtake fixed lined Internet usage by the end of 2012, according to StatsCounter. This announcement represents their second initiative, with the first one being the launch of a hyper-local commerce service in partnership with mobile start-up Y2CF Digital.