Irina Sandu

on mobile and Mozilla

Month: May, 2012

Android and mobile browsing insights – Week 22

Every week (or so) I post an overview on what’s been happening in the mobile (browsing) world and is relevant to Mozilla.


  • Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility has completed regulatory approvals
  • Rumours on a possible purchase of Opera Software by Facebook have surfaced, together with recurring ones on a possible Facebook phone
  • Google introduced subscriptions for its In-app billing monetization feature
  • The trial between Google and Oracle is ending in favour of Google
  • Mobile payments rising to $171 billion and 212 million users, fueled by SMS and Web-based transactions
  • 20% of Web traffic in the US and Canada to come from smartphones and tablets, according to online advertising network
  • 40% of Chinese Web surfers to be doing so mobile-only


Google has completed the regulatory hurdles for the acquisition of Motorola Mobility, gaining the final approval needed in the process, which came from the Chinese authorities. A condition set for this go-ahead is that the operating system remains free and open source for the next 5 years. Details on future strategy and leadership of the new addition to Google’s organization are not yet available, but rumours say part of the focus to be on tactics for increasing quality and growth rate of the Android tablet market which would include design and launch of flagship tablet models.

Rumours are swirling about a possible purchase of Opera Software by Facebook. Besides its desktop, mobile, and embedded browsers, Opera also serves ~30b mobile ads per month via its advertising networks and operates a mobile application store with 30,000 apps. Most of Opera’s mobile browser users are on its Mini version, which features proxy-browsing technology and is particularly popular in high-growth, emerging countries. Another set of rumours surrounding Facebook claim that the company is preparing to launch its own smartphone model, sometime in the next year and that for that purpose it has been recruiting extensively. Rumours regarding a Facebook phone have been resurfacing every few months.

Google introduced subscriptions for its In-app billing app monetization feature. Developers can now sell monthly or annual auto-renewing subscriptions from inside the apps. Users get emails every time their subscription is renewed and they have a subscription management tool inside the My Apps section of the Play Store. 23 of the 24 top-grossing apps in Google Play use the In-app Billing feature, and the total revenue generated from in-app purchases exceeds revenue from traditional app purchases.

The trial between Google and Oracle with regards to the use of Java technology inside Android is coming to a favourable end for Google, who was found to not be infringing on Oracle patents. The judge has yet to rule on the question of whether Java APIs can be copyrighted. The possibility of an appeal exists, and analysts predict that Oracle is likely to pursue this strategy.

Mobile payment transactions have seen a year-over-year increase in value by 60% to $171 billion and in users by 32% to 212 million, according to research by Gartner. Main drivers for the industry are SMS, particularly in developing markets, and Web purchases, mostly in the more developed countries. By 2016 the market research company estimates that value and users will keep growing and will reach a volume of $617 billion and 448 million users. NFC technology is not yet a significant driver for mobile payments, but it is expected for its role to grow.

A report from online advertising network Chitika reveals that 20% of Web traffic in the US and Canada comes from smartphone and tablets. The smaller screen mobile devices account for 14.6% of total traffic and tablets for the rest of 5.6%. The report also mentions that tablet and mobile phone Internet usage peak in the evening hours and that 95 percent of tablet Web traffic comes from an Apple device, compared to phones, where Apple’s share is 72 percent, compared to 26 percent for Android devices.

The BBC wrote a briefing on the smartphone landscape in China, one of the most important mobile markets in terms of potential. Highlights include that 40% of people browsing the Web in the country do so only on their mobile phones and that in-app sales might be a better monetization method for that audience than on-purchase payments.

Android and mobile browsing insights – Week 20

Every week I post an overview on what’s been happening in the mobile (browsing) world and is relevant to Mozilla.

  • Updated Android version distribution numbers are available
  • Google’s Motorola acquisition expected to be completed soon
  • Android 5.0, code-named Jelly Bean, rumoured to be released in fall with multiple flagship devices
  • Baidu to be releasing Yi-based devices
  • 56.1% of smartphone shipments in Q1 featured Android
  • Samsung confirmed as top mobile phone vendor by shipments in Q1


Updated Android version distribution numbers put Gingerbread at 64% of the market, with API level 9 at 0.5% and level 10 at 63.9%, Froyo (level 8) at 20.8% and Ice Cream Sandwich at almost 5%, with most of it on API level 15.


Google declared that it expects its acquisition of Motorola to be completed soon, before the first half of the year. After having passed regulatory approval in the US and the US, the company is now waiting from go-ahead from the authorities in China. The closing of the deal will likely raise more concerns over competition inside the Android ecosystem.


Details about the upcoming version of Android, version 5.0 code-named Jelly Bean, have emerged.The launch is rumoured to happen before Thanksgiving and to feature more OEMs that will produce the version’s flagship devices. It is to be expected that they will also be featured for sale in Google’s Play Store.


Baidu, China’s incumbent search engine, is set to release a series of new mobile devices based on its Yi mobile platform, a fork of Android, that was announced in September 2011. Dell is reported to be the company’s hardware partner for this venture in a country which recently surpassed the US as the fastest growing market for new Android & iOs activations.


The smartphone platform market was further dominated by Android in Q1 smartphone shipments, where Google’s ecosystem captured 56.1% of the market with 81 million units, up from 36.4% of the market and 36.3 million units in the same period of 2011. Apple’s platform was on the second place with 33 million and 22.9% of the market, also up from 16 million and 16.9% marketshare in Q1 of 2011. Other platforms with significant shares are Symbian with 8.6% of the market, followed by BB OS with 6.9%, Bada with 2.7% and Windows Mobile and Windows Phone 7 which together account for 1.9%.


Q1 results of phone and smartphone shipments are out, confirming Samsung as having taken the lead as the top mobile phone vendor with 86 million units and 20.7% of the market, up from 68 million and 16.1% of the market the previous year. On second place there is Nokia, with 83 million and 19.8% marketshare, which is on a downward trend from its Q1 2011 result of 107 million corresponding to a 25.1% marketshare. Apple takes 3rd place with 33 million and 7.9% of the market, up from 16 million and 3.9%. Further down the top there are ZTE, LG, Huawei, RIM, Motorola, Sony and HTC with significant shares of the market.

Android and mobile browsing insights – Week 18

Every week I post an overview on what’s been happening in the mobile (browsing) world and is relevant to Mozilla.


  • Opera released stats on Opera Mini and Mobile user behaviour
  • Preliminary Q1 results place Samsung as top smartphone producer
  • Kindle Fire estimated to account for over 50% of US Android-based tablet market
  • Rumours about a Facebook phone allegedly produced by HTC surfaced again
  • First Intel phone features 1.6 GHz Atom Z2460 single core CPU, 400 MHz PowerVR SGX 540 GPU, 1 GB of RAM
  • HTC rumoured to be planning manufacture of own set of ARM-based chipsets
  • RIM  unveiled developer alpha version of BB OS 10
  • Tizen version 1.0 was released in form of source code and SDK
  • Canonical rumoured to be planning Ubuntu-based mobile devices
  • Usage of TV white spectrum for wireless communications making progress in Cambridge, UK
  • The list of IP-related litigations between Apple and Samsung features 50 lawsuits in 10 countries


Opera released results of a survey it conducted of usage behaviour of Opera Mini and Mobile browser users.  Details include:

  • Opera users are, according to the survey, a young and innovative crowd, at least compared to users of other browsers on mobile devices.
  • The Opera crowd also seems to be more educated than users of other browsers on the same platforms. “Opera users are 18% more likely than users of other browsers to be students/engaging in educational activities (and 6% more likely to be in education or employed
  • The breakdown shows significant distinctions in user habits between different countries and user groups. Users in the Philippines and Brazil are, e.g., the most active in social networking, while the Bangladeshi love to use their mobile phones as a gaming platform.
  • Opera users are eight percentage points more likely than average to spend more than an hour online in one session and 12 percentage points more likely than non-Opera users.” A whopping 75% of the surveyed persons say they use a mobile phone to surf on a daily basis.
  • In India, Indonesia and Pakistan, the mobile phone is the primary, and often only, way users access the internet, at 40%, 48% and 48%, respectively.

The full white paper can be downloaded here


Preliminary Q1 results of smartphone shipments are out and they place Samsung as the top producer with 44.5 million and 28% of the market, followed by Apple with 35.1 million and 22%, followed by Nokia with 11.9 million and 7% and RIM on the 4th place with 11.1 million and 7%. Total smartphone shipments for the quarter stood at 160 million. The best performer in the top 4 is Samsung, which rose by 5% compared to the same period last year and the worst performer is Nokia, who lost 5% of its marketshare year-over-year. Apple and RIM are trending down, each losing 2% since last Q1 quarter.


ComScore released a report on the US tablet market which states that the Kindle Fire makes up over half of the Android tablet install base and occupies the top position, with the Samsung Galaxy Tab on the 2nd place with 15%. The report did not count Barnes & Noble’s Android-based, app capable, colour screen devices as tablets, but put them in the eReader category. ComScore’s stats also reveal that larger screen tablets have a higher level of content consumption, with 10-inch devices having a 39% higher consumption rate than 7-inch ones, and a 58% higher rate than 5-inch tablets.


Rumours about a Facebook Android-based phone have surfaced again and they are consistent with the previous set of rumours from 2011, which claimed the company to be working with HTC to be producing said devices. Phones with strong Facebook integration have been produced before, mainly by HTC, among which are the HTC Salsa and HTC Chacha, featuring a QWERTY keyboard.


Detailed specs of the first Intel phone are out and position the device at the upper end of the middle range: 1.6 GHz Atom Z2460 single core CPU paired with a 400 MHz PowerVR SGX 540 GPU, 1 GB of RAM, 1024×600 6 inch screen and Android 2.3. The phone is going to be sold in India for approx. $400. Reviews reveal the device to be on par with a decent middle-range Android phone with the exception of app compatibility. The phone includes software to translate native ARM binaries into x86, but the method can fail for certain applications.


HTC, the second biggest Android phone producer by volume, is rumoured to be producing its own set of ARM-based processors. The hardware vendor is supposed to have partnered for this venture with ST-Ericsson, a global wireless platform and semiconductor supplier. This comes soon after another Android phone producer, Huawei, presented their own range of chipsets in February at Mobile World Congress, called K3V2.


RIM unveiled the developer alpha of version 10 of its BlackBerry OS on a phone and a tablet prototype device. The presentation was still early-stage, so not all of the details were in their finalized state. Key features that were presented are sharing of files between mobile device and computer, its notifications mechanism and an improved virtual keyboard software.


The 1.0 version of the Tizen platform was released, in form of the source code and SDK. For the first stable release, developers have included in the SDK a new browser-based simulator that supports Tizen APIs, together with IDE enhancements and performance improvements for the emulator tool.

Ubuntu is rumoured to be talking with OEMs to manufacture Ubuntu-based mobile devices, which would be available in market in 2013. Canonical has already produced Ubuntu for Android, a dual-boot environment targeted at dual-core Android devices, which enables the phone to switch to the Ubuntu OS when connected to a large screen.



Usage of TV white-space spectrum for wireless communications is making progress in the town of Cambridge in the UK, where a world-first city-wide white space network named Weightless has been deployed. It has been designed for connecting smart electricity meters and devices around the city and expands across 5 base stations. Usage of frequencies left empty by the switchover to digital television, the so-called white spaces, will expand the spectrum ranges available for wireless communications, and can be used particularly for local transmission, such as Machine2Machine connections as well as wide WLANs. Large scale implementations and adoption for this spectrum needs collaboration from regulating bodies and hardware manufacturers.



An idea of the range and complexity of the Intellectual Property-related litigations that affect the mobile ecosystem at the moment can be gained by reviewing the list of the lawsuits between Apple and Samsung, which are as many as 50 and are filed across 10 countries. The 2 companies are meeting in San Francisco in May to discuss a potential settlement.



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