Tag Archives: Google

App Store Now Features Over 300,000 Games

It’s true, more than half of the 300,000 videogames on the App Store are complete and utter garbage.  That said, 300,000 anything is quite an accomplishment.  Many hardcore gamers look at the App Store as “just another cell phone game shop,” but the truth of the matter is that Apple has become a serious contender in the videogame industry.  I can’t begin to tell you how many press releases I get on a daily basis from indie companies and major third parties that want us to highlight some new iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch game they have in production.    I’ve said this before, and I’ll be saying it again I’m sure, but the iOS platform has completely changed the videogame industry.  It has empowered the smallest developers in the world to release intuitive and sometimes great games for $0.99, often even being free.  Google’s Android operating system has followed suit, and combined these two platforms look to do something Nintendo and Sony could never dream of, allowing your average joe to release their creation for the whole world to enjoy all while making money in the process.  It’s quite something when you stop and think about it.

For years the portable market, including the cell market, was locked in position by the power players.  If you were on the traditional gaming front, you needed to get expensive software development kits from companies like Nintendo and Sony.  While on the cellphone market, you were almost always locked in with the carrier.  If they didn’t carry a game you wanted, you were completely shafted.  Now we have an alternative to this.  You can either download Android’s SDK for free or pay a measly $100 a year for access to Apple’s.  From there, you make your game, submit it for approval and that’s it.  Your game is up and running for the whole world to enjoy.  There have been several millionaires made from developing on the iPhone and soon for Android devices as well.  This is just not possible on the traditional platforms.

Lately it feels like we’re hearing about one major milestone after another in the mobile arena.  Who would have thought that the portable market would be so completely altered within only two years.  It makes you wonder what is going to happen in the next couple of years.

Sony + Google = Android Enabled PSP Phone?

Engadget has a really wicked rumor on their site that I just couldn’t resist but post here.  It’s something that Timothy Magana and I have been talking about for some time now.  He frequently asks me whether I think we could one day see an Android-based console from one of the big three.  I always said “no” because these companies like to have proprietary operating systems for fear of piracy, and other reasons which I won’t get into right now.  There is one company that I never thought of before though, and that was Sony.  Sony could actually benefit from using Android if only because it’s a completely open operating system.  Surely they’d have to work with Google to get a far stronger security system in place, but the perks of using Android are now coming to light.

To start off, Engadget says that Sony Ericsson are working with Google to bring Android 3.0 (codename Gingerbread) to a brand new phone, which would indeed feature the PlayStation brand.  It would be a gaming-centric phone, and would launch Android’s gaming ecosystem.  Here’s where things get a little blurry.  For starters, if I bought a game via the PS Phone, would I be able to buy another phone from another company have play LittleBigPlanet on said device?  Engadget’s rumor says yes, you would.  If that’s the case then Sony would have to license out their software titles through the Android marketplace, which really changes the landscape of Sony’s mobile business.  No longer would they be contained within one device.  This could be a really big game changer here folks.  The question is, will Sony go for this?  Also, if they themselves become a licensee, then they would lose out on the millions they make from licensing third party software.  See what I mean, things are a bit blurry right now.  The only work around I could see is Google and Sony co-create the ecosystem, and Sony and Google share the licensing for any developers that make games based off of it.  Does that really sound like Google or Sony though?  I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

Here's a mock-up Engadget made. Interesting design, no?

The picture I’ve included in this post is a mock-up Engadget made to show people more or less the design they’ve been told the phone will utilize.  It seems entirely possible given the recently released PSP Go.  I’d also like to mention that the rumor states the device will be ready for the market come this October.  That makes an unveiling at TGS extremely likely.

Engadget’s been told that the device will sport fully 3D gaming akin to the PlayStation Portable currently on the market.  Once again, we’re not entirely sure if this device is being set up to replace the PSP or if it will coexist alongside the current PSP offerings.  It seems to me that this is going to act as a bridge between the PSP and the PSP2.  Hopefully we’ll be able to get more information in the coming days and weeks leading up to TGS.

This is a fun filled day though, with Irrational Games (makers of System Shock 2, and BioShock) new title getting announced this afternoon, and now this breaking rumor.  What do you guys think of Google and Sony teaming up for a brand new ecosystem for Android 3.0, and 3D gaming on your cell phone?

MS, Apple, RIM, and Google Fight For Your Mobile Future

This is an article I’ve been thinking about writing ever since Google made several big announcements over the past week.  I already lived through the major OS war of the early eighties, and since we’re about to experience the same thing in the mobile space, I figured it would be an interesting topic to take a further look at.

To begin, let’s look at the key players.

Microsoft: Their newly announced Windows 7 Phone Series, which I’ll refer to as Windows 7 Mobile, looks extremely promising.  It offers Xbox Live integration, tons of social features, and so much more.  It will remain licensed-based, which I’ll get into in a moment, and is open to any hardware maker willing to pay the fee, and dish out the specs required to run the OS.  Thus far it looks extremely tight, with full compatibility to Windows 7.  It’ll even have its own App store, which Microsoft will oversee just like Apple does.  Microsoft also says the SDK will be dirt cheap.  This looks like MS is taking Apple, RIM, and Google very seriously.

Apple: I don’t think there’s very much to say here.  They were the first to really usher in this new era of smartphones for the general public.  RIM had been really successful in the past with their BlackBerry, but for the most part that was so successful because of the business side of the market.  Apple took ideas that were already out there, and ran with them.  Apple has a closed system, meaning the OS will only work on Apple devices.  Their App store is monitored by Apple, and they have a very cheap SDK.

Research In Motion: The granddaddy of the smartphone market.  Their BlackBerry devices have been extremely successful, and they show no signs of slowing down anytime soon.  Their brand new OS, which is touch-heavy, will be used across all of their devices.  Like Apple, they run a closed system, meaning the OS only works on RIM devices.  They too have an App store, and a very low cost SDK.

Google: The new kid on the block, the one that wants to take over everything.  They have a free SDK, and a completely open and free OS, Android.  They look like they’re going to be completely unstoppable.  Their App store isn’t monitored by anyone, and as such anything you want to download you can.  Android also runs on netbooks, and will be spread across multiple devices, meaning syncing data between all of these devices will be a breeze.

Google started small, but has major plans for the future.

So these are the major players.  The mobile market is clearly changing from what it is right now.  In terms of operating systems, Google is certainly going to come out on top.  Why?  The truth is it’s because they’re completely open and free.  There are no fees associated with the OS whatsoever.  By default that means they’re going to kick everyone else’s butts.  The question facing the general public is what are the pros and cons to each OS, and are we really ready for a truly open platform?  Ask yourself this question, how many of you actually use the only completely open OS for your computer?  By that I’m asking, how many of you are running Linux right now?

Microsoft hopes this is the OS you're going to choose for your future phone.

Since RIM, Apple and Microsoft are very similar in terms of what their OS offerings, let’s clear a few things up right away.  RIM and Apple both have a completely closed platform.  That means RIM will only release their OS on their BlackBerries.  Apple is exactly the same, only releasing iPhone OS on their iPhones, iPads, etc.  Simple really.  Windows is slightly different in that they will release their OS on any device that is sports the minimum system specs, and that pays the licensing fee.  What separates these three is this.  When RIM and Apple decides to release a firmware update for the platform, they can easily do this without thinking about too much about it.  Simply release the update to the public and away you go.  Apple can this easier than anyone because they only have three basic devices.  With RIM it’s a little more complex being as they have a much wider device selection, but it’s still easier than Microsoft.  As such, Apple and RIM are able to pump out updates as frequently as they choose.  Truth be told, both handheld manufacturers typically release one major update per year, but they release security updates, and bug fixes whenever they’re found.  If a certain device becomes old, they consider it legacy hardware and move on.  That only happens every two years or so.  Think about how computers work, it’s essentially the same thing.  Windows 7 Mobile and Android are in the same boat, except they have things much more complicated.

Phones are not computers, not yet anyways.  When MS licenses out Win7 Mobile, they can update the OS as often as they like, but the various hardware makers have to ensure the OS will run on the hardware.  MS doesn’t care if their latest OS runs on your five month old device, because all they care about is selling the license.  Get it?  So what happens is the carrier has to pass the update to the consumers because of the vastly different hardware specifications out there.  Thankfully Microsoft can treat their system as a computer system, making sure that basic system specs are being followed before issuing a license.  That way when they decide to update, they know a large section of the market will be able to.  That also ensures that apps created for the new OS will run on the vast majority of hardware.  This is true of Apple and RIM as well.  If the devices can’t be upgraded, then certain apps will not work on older hardware.  Each app has specific requirements that show what OS is required to play them.

Don't count RIM out of the equation, they're one of the most powerful companies in the business world.

Finally we have Google, which just stunned the world with all their announcements this week.  They’re offering hardware makers an OS which is completely free.  They’re offering developers an App store that isn’t monitored, and is completely open.  Now there are a heck of a lot of pros and cons to this system.  MS, RIM and Apple all feature monitored or authorized App stores.  That means the only apps that will be sold to you are ones that have been approved by the various companies.  As an example, don’t expect porn apps on these devices.  That said, by being monitored, these companies try and prevent malware from making it onto the store.  They also try to ensure that each and every app will work well within both the OS and the hardware.  With MS you can see how this can be a bit tricky, what with all the different hardware.  They can assure it works with the OS, but they surely can’t promise you every app will always work on every piece of hardware.  Thus, you’re likely to see a fragmented market, apps being available for one model, and not another.  This is nothing new though, as we’ve seen this with the first generation iPhone to the iPhone 3GS.  It’s just going to be far more fragmented with Windows 7 Mobile and Android.

With Google’s open App store, anyone can upload anything they want to the store.  It’s a double-edged sword.  On one hand you can download anything you want.  Want porn, you’ve got it!  Want viruses, you got it!  Wait a minute…  Don’t get me wrong, RIM and Apple have both let in some bizarre stuff on their respective App stores, some of which even worked like garbage within the OS.  The odds are in their favour though, that Google is going to get a ton of malware and viruses in comparison to Apple, MS and RIM.  People will surely disguise viruses as porn, and so much more.  There’s nothing in place to prevent this from happening.

In terms of hardware, any hardware maker can release an Android-enabled device.  Sound great, but unlike MS who has very strict guidelines for hardware, Google’s aren’t anywhere near that strict.  That means Android is going to show up on just about every device.  Remember folks, its completely free!  That’s awesome, but again, it will surely be a double-edged sword.  You’re guaranteed the basic features will always be present no matter which device you buy, but two weeks later your hardware may be out of date.  This is something Google is completely aware of, and to be perfectly blunt, doesn’t give a crap about.  They’re offering their services for free, so that’s life.  If you buy an Android device, you need to be aware of this.  It means their platform will likely be the most fragmented of all.  Imagine buying a new Android device today like the Nexus One, and then by next week it’s out of date because the OS is free and updated so often to continuously add new features.  The device won’t be powerful enough to support a large majority of the features Google announced this past week, for example.  They even have a more complicated OS update system than MS.  At least MS can assure basic hardware configurations, but with Android anything goes.  That means the carrier will be the one to release the updates in order to figure out which version of the OS can be run on each individual piece of hardware.

Apple's iPhone has been one of the most successful phones in history, but will it continue?

Then there’s the App store.  People are going to have to be ultra careful which apps they download on their specific devices.  If you can’t run Android 6.7, you won’t be able to download the latest and greatest apps.  Sure this is true of the other three platforms as well, but the big difference here is the time in-between updates.  With Android, there could be monthly OS updates, which will make hardware become legacy in no time at all.  So it’s going to be essential people know what they’re downloading before they do it.  They can’t just hit up the App store and download away; they need to ensure everything on their device is compatible with whatever they download.  It sounds like it’s going to work similar to the desktop market, except devices will age far quicker.

So those are the fundamental changes we’re about to see in the mobile space.  Remember right now I’m only talking smartphones, not tablets and other gadgets.  I’m very excited about this future, but also a little fearful.  I love my iPhone, and I really think Apple has done a great job of adding features, but without competition I doubt I’d have cut and paste right now.  The problem with Apple’s strategy is that you can’t always get apps you want or features you wish you had, like Flash.  Yes it’s a battery hog, and yes it runs choppy, but it’ll be on Android.  I’m fairly positive it won’t make it to every device, but at least it’s an option.  Again though, there are costs with Google’s strategy.  Is Flash worth a virus stealing all my contact numbers, and other personal data?  Don’t forget RIM and Microsoft as well, both are offering some very impressive features, but in the face of a free OS, can anyone really compete?

I’m kind of curious what you think of all this.  I’ve laid out most of the cards, and now you should chime in.  This isn’t really looking at the market share, which we all know Google will be the champion because of the free OS, but more a look at where we’re headed and what you feel is the best strategy for you.  Do you love the prospects of a free OS that can outdate your phone in a week?  Are you more inclined to enjoy security and reliability that Apple and RIM’s models offer?  Do you like MS’s take where they’re sort of in the middle with a powerful OS, but questionable future-proofing of devices?

So now I leave the floor to you.

Google Starts Quest For Global Domination

Your best friend, Google, has officially started their quest for world domination.  If they continue down this path, they’re going to be the next Microsoft in a very short period of time.  Today Google announced several big initiatives that will drastically change the way we work with computers, watch TV, etc.  All of these announcements were made at the annual Google I/O conference in San Francisco.  So let’s jump right in.

The first big initiative they announced was a brand new video file format to directly compete against the Apple-backed H.264 for the future of web-based video.  They’re calling it the WebM project, and what makes this so special is that it is completely open-source, and royalty-free.  H.264 isn’t and requires a hefty yearly fee.  The other big news is that the format has the backing of Google, Mozilla and Opera, meaning just about all the big open-source web browsers will support the new video format.  Given the parties involved HTML5 should explode onto the market sometime before the end of the year.  This should also put a lot of pressure on Microsoft and Apple to support the format, which means the future of H.264, could be numbered.

The other big initiative which will be felt in the coming years is a partnership with Intel and Google for using the Android operating system in home entertainment devices such as televisions.  Unlike Apple and many other hardware makers, Google realizes that if they control the future software that will be used for net-connected devices such as HDTVs, they control everything we watch, look up, etc.  Once they combine this with their ads, it’s not impossible to envision a world where Google has formed a monopoly over pretty well every aspect of marketing.

We know the Android OS will be coming to Netbooks soon, but before too long we fully expect Android to be running on every single electronic device out there.  Once that happens world domination will be in their grasp!  If you don’t see the significance of these announcements yet, bookmark COE and come back in a few year’s time and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.