Google Releases Android 3.2 Honeycomb SDK

Google announced the launch of the SDK (software development kit, which is used by developers to create applications for the platform) for Android 3.2 Honeycomb, the latest version of Android for tablets. The focus of the new Android 3.2 SDK seems to be compatibility and optimization for a range of form factors. The API level of the new SDK has been upped to 13.

Here are some of the highlights of the Android 3.2 SDK:

Optimizations for a wider range of tablets:

The new release includes a variety of optimizations to ensure a consistent user experience over a range of tablets.

Compatibility zoom for fixed-sized apps:

The compatibility zoom mode will allow users to view fixed size apps on tablets in a pixel scaled mode, as opposed to complete UI stretching. This should help a bit, until more Honeycomb apps are created.

Compatibility Zoom - Android

Media sync from SD card:

Users can now load media files directly from the SD card to apps that use them.

Extended screen support API:

Extended screen support seems to be a major step towards application compatibility between smartphones and tablets which is expected in Android Ice Cream Sandwich. It will enable developers to control the look of their apps on various screen sizes, along with the compatibility zoom mode.

Some of the standard resolutions that can be supported are: 320 x 480, 480 x 800, 600 x 1024 and 800 x 1280 pixels.

Download the new Android 3.2 Honeycomb SDK

Could Apple Shut Down Android in the US?

As we all know, Apple has been involved in patent infringement lawsuits with some of the most popular Android smartphone makers, including HTC, Motorola and Samsung. On Friday, a US International Trade Commission judge ruled that HTC did infringe on two patents that Apple mentioned in its complaint. HTC has appealed the ruling, but it is very likely that the judge’s original ruling will be upheld.

Now, there are three scenarios which are most likely to play out.

1. HTC removes the features which infringe on those patents from its Android devices and pays Apple damages for past infringement.

2. HTC licenses those patents from Apple, and pays Apple a patent licensing fee for every device plus damages for past infringement.

3. Apple refuses to license the patents to HTC, and calls for an immediate ban on all HTC devices powered by Android in the US. Well, that, and HTC pays Apple damages for past infringement.

Now the two patents, which HTC allegedly infringes upon are related to a “system and method for performing an action on a structure in computer-generated data” and a “real-time signal processing system for serially transmitted data”.

According to Florian Mueller, both these patents are infringed by code which is at the very core of Android. Given that these patents are central to Android, it is likely that all Android devices infringe them as well. HTC might find a way to remove those features to avoid infringing those patents, but that seems quite unlikely as well.

In that case, if Apple does win against HTC, there is no stopping it from going up against all the Android device manufacturers in the US.

Since the first option seems highly unlikely, we now consider the other two options.

HTC licenses patents from Apple

HTC could just license those patents from Apple for a fee. It already has such arrangements with Microsoft, under which it pays Microsoft $5 for every Android device sold. But I highly doubt this could ever happen.

Apple moves for a ban against HTC’s Android devices in the US

Apparently, Apple doesn’t need any patents from HTC, so with no cross licensing needed, it could easily just shut down the sale and import of HTC’s Android devices in the US.

It obviously won’t go for the money, not when it has a chance to completely ban HTC’s Android devices in the US, thus gaining an excellent competitive advantage against Google.

If it wins against HTC, it has a chance to do the same against other Android manufacturers as well. However unlikely it may seem now, this could eventually lead to a ban of Android devices in the US.

Android is under fire from all fronts. Either Google, or Android device manufacturers are being sued by Apple, Microsoft and Oracle for patent infringement related to Android.

Microsoft has already turned Google into a billion dollar cash cow. Apple has a chance to make much more if it can get a ban on all Android devices in the US. If that happens, Apple could stand to gain significant market share in the US, and become the leading platform. Under these circumstances, the second beneficiary would be Microsoft, which has the only viable alternative to Android – Windows Phone 7.

Android, which is considered one of Google’s greatest successes to date, may turn out to become one of its greatest problems. Everyone else is ganging up against it, case in point: the Nortel patent auctions. Pardon me for sounding sensationalist, but could this be the beginning of the end of Android?

Google Announces Q2 2011 Results; The Numbers Are Quite Awesome

Google announced the financial results for the second quarter of 2011 today, and the numbers have been great.

I’m going to highlight the most important points in this post.

Revenues and Profits

In Q2 2011, Google’s revenues grew 32% year on year, to $9.03 billion. Its net income grew to $2.51 billion, up 36% over Q2 2010.


Google is now sitting on a huge stash of cash, which it can use to fund future acquisitions and further expansion. It has close to $39.12 billion in cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities.


Android has been one of Google’s greatest successes in the past years. Larry Page announced that Android was now seeing 550,000 device activations a day, up from 500,000 just 2 weeks back. It’s currently growing at the rate of 4.4% per week.

It is now on 130 million devices in total. All the patent wars don’t seem to have affected the growth of Android much.


Chrome is the fastest growing web browser in the world. It now has over 160 million users and has a market share higher than 20%, making it the third most popular browser after Internet Explorer and Firefox.


Finally, we come to the talk of the town – Google+. Google+ has exploded in terms of users in the two weeks that it has been available. Though it is still invite only, it has attracted more than 10 million users. More than 1 billion items have been shared on Google+ already.


Larry also announced how Google thinks about its products. They group them into three categories.

  • Search and Ads: The core driver of revenue for the company.
  • Consumer Products: YouTube, Android and Chrome.
  • New Products: Google+, Commerce and Local.

He ended the call with a very nice quote: “All of us at Google want to create services that people across the world use twice a day … just like a toothbrush!”

The overall market sentiment about Google is very positive. Google’s stock is up 13% in after-hours trading and may cross the $600 barrier today.

You can check out the complete details at the Google Q2 2011 earnings release here.

Do check out Larry Page’s post on Google+.

EA Buys PopCap to Fight Off Zynga

Today, Electronic Arts announced that it was acquiring PopCap Games for $750 million in cash and stock, plus up to $550 million in earnouts over the next couple years contingent on some revenue targets. Rumors of the acquisition started last month, after a report by Techcrunch.

PopCap was started eleven years ago, and is now of of the biggest creators of social games like Bejeweled, Plants vs Zombies, Baking Life and Zuma Blitz with nearly 17.5 million monthly active users.

EA Acquires PopCap Games

This isn’t EA’s first acquisition in the social gaming space. It acquired Playfish in 2009 for nearly $300 million and has subsequently been able to become one of the biggest names in social gaming with more than 30 million monthly active users.

With the PopCap acquisition, EA would become the number two social game company in terms of users, with over close to 50 million users, second only to Zynga, which has more than 275 million.

EA is still far behind Zynga, but with too much competition, acquisitions like these are the only way to grow fast in this exploding space of social gaming. Zynga is expected to raise close to $1 billion in the coming months, via the IPO route. Activision, EA’s closest competitor, may also be planning to snatch a few social gaming companies in the future.

Blackberry App World Hits 1 Billion Downloads; App Store and Android Market Still Way Ahead

The Blackberry App World, the online application store for Blackberry devices has officially hit a very significant milestone – 1 billion downloads. The guys at the Blackberry blog revealed this figure in a blog post today. They are currently seeing close to 3 million downloads every day.

“The BlackBerry App World storefront launched a little over two years ago, and over that time, we’ve made many feature improvements, enhanced the look and feel, and added a ton of compelling apps. BlackBerry App World is now in over 100 countries, seeing an average of 3 million downloads per day, and we recently crossed the 1 billion app download milestone!”

Blackberry App World

RIM’s Blackberry is the third most popular smartphone platform in the US after Android and iOS, even though it has been on the wane since a couple of years. Since the launch of the iPhone and then the Android OS, they have taken a majority of the smartphone market share around the world.

The Apple App Store sports close to 425,000 apps and has served more than 15 billion downloads. Even the Android Market has been doing quite well, with more than 200,000 apps and over 5 billion downloads.

RIM will be launching Blackberry App World 3.0 soon which it says will “evolve and improve the experience for both our developers and consumers”.

However encouraging these figures may seem, RIM is still in a very tough spot. Its market share is being eroded day by day, by the iPhone and Android smartphones. Even Microsoft and HP are trying to get a piece of the smartphone pie. RIM’s latest launch – the Blackberry Playbook – hasn’t been a huge hit. Even RIM is, in the words of Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, on a ‘burning platform’.

The Apple iPhone Still Rules the US Smartphone Market

Comscore has released some updated figures about smartphone OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) in the US. It gives us some pretty interesting insights into the dynamics of the US smartphone industry, though much of it is quite obvious.

US Smartphone OEM Market Share For the three months ending May 2011, the total number of smartphone users in the US were 76.8 million. As expected, Apple was the top smartphone device manufacturer with a 26.6% market share with the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 3GS.

RIM is still quite a dominant player with a 24.7% market share with its Blackberry devices.

Next come the top three Android manufacturers – HTC, Motorola and Samsung with a 11.8%, 11.4% and 8.9% market share respectively. Samsung has been increasing its share quite a lot with the Galaxy range of devices, but it still comes after HTC and Motorola, which have had a very good lead in the US market.

LG has only a 4.8% share while HP has a 2.7% share with the new Palm smartphones. Nokia, as always, has a very low market share in the US market (2.1%), which is decreasing further.

While Android is the number one smartphone OS, Google hardly makes any Android phones. It just has the Nexus One and the Nexus S which form only a minute fraction of the total Android sales in the US.

The iPhone is, undisputedly, the king of the smartphone industry, at least in the US.

LG Optimus Pro Revealed

LG Optimus ProA new Android phone by LG, the LG Optimus Pro has been spotted in Italy.

It seems to be inspired by the Motorola Droid Pro, and comes with a QWERTY keyboard and a 2.8 inch capacitive touchscreen display with a resolution of 320 x 480 pixels.

It will be powered by Android 2.3 Gingerbread and will sport a 600 MHz or 800 MHz processor, like most other budget smartphones. It also has internal storage of 150 MB and comes with a 3.15 MP camera. It also offers Wi-Fi and GPS, and comes with a 1500 mAh battery.

The specifications are quite similar to the Samsung Galaxy Pro while the design resembles the Motorola Droid Pro. It seems to have followed the industry naming convention for QWERTY candybar Android devices by appending a ‘Pro’ to its name.

It will be positioned as a budget Android device, and is aimed at Blackberry users who cannot do without a physical QWERTY keyboard. It has already been launched in Italy and is priced at €179.

Source: AndroidWorld via Eurodroid

iriver Story HD Launched: The First Google eBook Reader

iriver Story HDWhile Amazon plans to launch an Android tablet by the end of this year, Google has already announced the launch of an eBook reader by iriver. The iriver Story HD will be the first eBook reader powered solely by Google eBooks and will offer access to more than 3 million e-books hosted by Google.

While Google eBooks offers support for multiple platforms, this is the first eBook reader which offers direct integration with Google eBooks platform. It will retail for $139.99, at exactly the same price point as the Kindle Wi-Fi. Which is why I think it won’t make much of an impact, considering we already have very good options in the form of the Kindle, the new Nook and the Nook Color.

The iriver Story HD comes with a 6 inch, 1024 x 768 pixel XGA e-ink display and is powered by a Cortex A8 processor. It has 2 GB internal storage, and comes with an SD card slot and Wi-Fi support. It is similar to the Amazon Kindle in terms of design and form factor and offers 3 weeks of battery life. It will be available starting July 17 at Target stores.

Apple and Samsung’s Love-Hate Relationship

Apple and Samsung have been in a legal tussle over smartphone patents since a few months now, with Apple alleging that Samsung blatantly copied the iPhone and the iPad to create the Galaxy line of smartphones and tablets.

Now if these were any two other companies, you would expect them to be bitter enemies and at the very least, stop conducting any business with each other. But while Apple and Samsung are both quite bitter, they surely haven’t ended their business relationship.

It’s because Samsung is one of the largest component suppliers for Apple’s products. It makes a lot of what makes Apple products work – displays, processors, flash memory etc. Samsung apparently sold Apple $5.7 billion worth of components last year, according to a Reuters report. So it’s not like only Apple is dependent on Samsung; even Samsung relies on Apple for a large portion of its total sales. Apple is Samsung’s second largest customer.

While Apple may be trying to find alternative sources for the components that power its devices, it’s not that easy. There are very few companies that could manage that kind of volume. Apple has been trying to diversify and spread out its suppliers, so that no one supplier has any leverage over Apple. Apple cannot afford to have its supply chain being held hostage by any one supplier; with the enormous demand for Apple products, any supply shortages would mean a lot of lost sales.

Apple has so far turned to Taiwan for most of its manufacturing and component needs, with companies like Foxconn, Quanta, Pegatron, Innolux and TSMC.

But Samsung still remains an indispensable partner, which is probably why Apple is still continuing its business relationship with it.

Both of them make a lot of money off each other. That’s probably why Tim Cook still considers Samsung “valuable component supplier” even though their mobile unit “crossed the line.” In the end, it’s all just good business.

References: Reuters

Buying Guide: Android Phones in India [2011]

Android Smartphone Buying Guide 2011: Android Phones in India Under Rs 15000, 20000, 30000

If you are in the market for a new smartphone, the best option would be to buy an Android phone. Symbian is on its way to obsolescence, the iPhone is still prohibitively expensive (at least in India), and Windows Phone 7 devices are available only in the higher price bracket.

In this article, I will give present the best Android phones you can buy, in various price ranges. This post is focused on Indian buyers, but is relevant for anyone looking for an Android smartphone buying guide, anywhere in the world.

Best Android Smartphones Under 15,000 ($330)

Spice Mi-410

Spice Mi-410

Spice is a relatively unknown brand, but its latest offering – the Spice Mi-410 is one of the best budget Android phones yet. It comes with Android 2.2 Froyo, with a Gingerbread upgrade coming soon, and has a 1 GHz Qualcomm processor with 512 MB RAM. It also has a huge 4.1 inch display, comes with a 5 MP camera, and is priced around Rs 14,000. If I had to buy an Android device under Rs 15,000, it would be the Spice Mi410.

Buy the Spice M-410

Samsung Galaxy Ace

Samsung Galaxy Ace

The Samsung Galaxy Ace is like a smaller, budget version of the Samsung Galaxy S. It is now available for around Rs 15,000.

It comes with a 3.5 inch, 320 x 480 pixel capacitive touchscreen display. It also has a 5 MP camera with autofocus and LED flash and is powered by Android 2.2 Froyo. It comes with an 800 MHz processor and 278 MB RAM.

Buy Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830

Best Android Smartphones Under 20,000 ($450)

This particular bracket has some of the best Android smartphones. They are priced reasonably, and offer the most value for money.

Google Nexus S

Google Nexus S

Using the Nexus S, you can experience Android the way Google intended it. It runs vanilla Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread, with no custom UI shell on top. You can rest assured that it will be the first to receive any updates, and it is priced very well, at just under Rs 20,000.

It comes with a 4 inch SLCD display and is powered by a 1 GHz ARM Cortex A8 processor. It has 512 MB RAM and comes with a 5 MP camera. It also has 16 GB internal storage and sports an excellent design.

Buy Samsung Google Nexus S

Samsung Galaxy S LCD

Samsung Galaxy S LCD

The Samsung Galaxy SL is an inexpensive cousin of the popular Samsung Galaxy S. It comes with a 4 inch SLCD display and runs Android 2.2 Froyo, with a Gingerbread upgrade coming soon.

It has a 1 GHz Cortex A8 processor and 512 MB RAM. It also comes with a 5 MP camera and has 4 GB internal storage.

Buy Samsung Galaxy S LCD I9003

LG Optimus Black

LG Optimus Black

LG recently came to its senses and bumped down the price of the LG Optimus Black to Rs 19,990. At this new price, the LG Optimus Black is a very appealing buy.

It comes with Android 2.2 Froyo and sports a 4 inch, 800 x 480 pixel Nova capacitive display. It is powered by a 1 GHz Cortex A8 processor and 512 MB RAM. It also has a 5 MP camera with AF and LED flash.

Buy LG Optimus Black P970

HTC Desire Z

HTC Desire Z

The HTC Desire Z is one of those rare QWERTY sliders powered by Android. It comes with a 3.7 inch display with a sliding QWERTY keyboard. It is powered by an 800 MHz Qualcomm processor and comes with 512 MB RAM.

It runs Android 2.2 Froyo with the HTC Sense UI, but will receive an upgrade to Android 2.3 Gingerbread. It also has a 5 MP camera, and is a very good option if you want something different.

Buy HTC Desire Z

The Best Android Smartphones Money Can Buy

And finally, here are the best Android phones money can buy. Assuming that you are willing to buy an Android smartphone priced higher than Rs 20,000, these are the only options you should consider.

Samsung Galaxy S 2 II

Samsung Galaxy S 2

The Samsung Galaxy S 2 is the best Android smartphone of all time. It was launched recently, and has already sold more than 3 million units in less than two months.

It is priced around Rs 30,000. If I had the money, there is no other phone I would rather buy.

It comes with a 4.3 inch SuperAMOLED Plus display with a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels. It is powered by the 1.2 GHz dual core Exynos processor and the Mali 400 MP GPU. It also offers 1 GB RAM and comes with Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread with the TouchWiz UI.

It has an 8 MP camera which can shoot 1080p video and offers 16 GB internal storage. It has a very stylish design and is extremely slim at just 8.5 mm.

It is, truly, the best Android phone ever.

Buy Samsung Galaxy S2 I9100

HTC Sensation

HTC Sensation

This is another very good option, if for some reason, you can, but don’t want to buy the Samsung Galaxy S 2 (in which case you are probably nuts).

Jokes aside, the HTC Sensation is a very capable smartphone. It comes with Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread with the HTC Sense UI.

It comes with a 4.3 inch SLCD display and has a resolution of 540 x 960 pixels. It is powered by a 1.2 GHz dual core Snapdragon processor and offers 768 MB RAM. It also has an 8 MP camera with autofocus and dual LED flash and can record 1080p video.

Buy HTC Sensation

Note: If you are wondering why I have not listed any Android phones priced lower than Rs 10,000 ($250), it’s because there is no good Android option in that price range. Most of the phones in that bracket are low resolution, underpowered and generally mediocre. They offer a very bad user experience. If you need to buy a phone under Rs 10,000, I wouldn’t recommend any Android device.