Why I’m supporting the UAE Blackberry ban

We’re just over 2 weeks away from the final decision about the Blackberry ban in the UAE and as we draw closer to the date, I find myself supporting the ban. Now I know this sounds absolutely ludicrous but hear me out, there is a (partly) sound logic behind this.

There is no doubt that the Blackberry does email like no other device and to businesses it is practically irreplaceable, but the reason it has picked up steam among end consumers – at least here in the UAE – is the Blackberry Messenger service. The instant messaging service has been a rage, especially among younger consumers, reducing their spend to a fraction of what it would be over text messaging. However, apart from these two capabilities, the Blackberry doesn’t put up much of a fight against the iPhone and Android devices. (The physical keyboard is fantastic but that’s hardly the decisive factor for end consumers) Bar a few, the applications on Blackberry don’t come close to matching those on the iPhone and Android, both in terms of functionality and a visual experience. More importantly the browser on the Blackberries (both OS4.x and OS5) makes browsing a chore and leaves a lot to be desired. Compare this to the speed and fluidity of the Android and iPhone browser and the Blackberry browser seems bloated and clunky.

Should the ban go into effect, a major chunk of the users who have tasted the mobile internet blood will move to a data enabled device; hopefully an iPhone or an Android. And with that happening, these users will spend more time browsing the internet on their mobiles and engaging with apps and games. This state of increased mobile web consumption is what I’m looking forward to so the region can move – albeit forcefully – towards being a more developed mobile audience.

Now I know that the Blackberry OS6 supports Webkit browsing and is a dramatic improvement over the previous versions but how many users can we really expect to make the jump? A survey by YouGov Siraj says about 2/3rd of the users will switch from their Blackberries should the ban come into effect.

At the end of it, I do hope that there is some form of a resolution, atleast for corporate users. But as consumers, I believe users stand to gain a lot more than they know, technologically speaking of course.

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It doesn’t matter if Apple isn’t making a lot of money with the App Store

Lightspeed Venture partners is reporting Apple may have only made around $20-45 million from the 1 billion applications downloaded in the 9 months. Taking the paid to free ratio to be in the range of 1:15 to 1:40 and the mean price to be $2.65, they arrive to a revenue of $70-160 million, 30% of which is the magic number they have come up with. App Store

Clearly the App Store is far from a cash cow for Apple, especially when compared to the money its hardware lineup brings in. SDKs and development platforms in general have been around for a long time now but it is the distribution of these apps which had been a source of frustration for developers. By making them all available at one place, Apple has simplified the distribution chain and in turn generated  an additional source of revenue for it, no matter how small it may be.

The greatest source of pride, however, for Apple will be that the App Store is (or was) a source of competitive advantage for them and has converted potential buyers into buying consumers. Take a look at an iPhone running 1.x version of the OS and it looks practically naked when compared to a fairly used 2.x one. At the end of it all, even if Apple was breaking even with the App Store it wouldn’t matter because it’s served as a major pull factor enticing buyers.

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Android will be the Winner!

I was watching the live stream of the last TWiT which featured Robert Scoble, John Dvorak and Dwight Silverman as guests along with host Leo Laporte. They were discussing mobile phones and platforms and Scoble said he didn’t see Android being #1 in the future.

I think he’s wrong. A huge reason for the iPhone’s success has been it’s application platform development. The applications available on the App Store have resulted in a multi fold increase in the utility of the device, both for productivity as well as entertainment. A pre 2.0 iPhone looks practically naked now. But this is just one device.

Google’s Android platform is available to , and will be used on many devices. The G1 is only the beginning. With Samsung, Lenovo, Sprint and AT&T poised to bring Android devices in this and next year, Android’s reach is going to spready increasingly. Soon enough a user won’t be stuck with one form factor. Devices with QWERTY keyboards, Numeric keyboards, No Keyboards, Large Screens, Small screens, slide devices, flip devices etc will be available in Android flavour. All this choice will result in increased adoption among users.

This increased adoption of Android will make development for Android increasingly lucrative as developers will now have access to a much much wider consumer base which in turn will result in an increase in the number of applications and attract even more consumers. It’s a cycle right there.

Android’s greatest strength lies in the openness of the platform. Wonderful things will be done with it in the future. One needs to remember the first device was launched only 3 months ago and Android’s is still in the infancy stage. 2010 is going to be a huge year for Android. You can quote me on that.

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Apple Surprise!

It is all but confirmed Apple is launching the 3G iPhone on the 9th of June. What is expected is 3G(obviously), GPS, and possibly a bigger or a higher resolution screen. However Apple has known to surprise, which is why I have a feeling we might be seeing something more than just an iPhone launch.

I have a feeling Apple might deliver a new product to the market. To extend it`s development along the iPhone-esque lines with touch included would be quite possible. One could speculate Apple might release a UMPC of it`s own but that is highly unlikely as Apple usually enters a given market extremely late. While rumors of a rebranded .Mac service surface – with MacRumors providing the latest scoop – I can`t help but wonder what Mr Turtleneck’s new trump card will be.

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