Tag Archives: Android

The War of the Androids

Google vs. Samsung

Samsung owns the vast majority of the market share for Android, 29.6% in fact.  That may not seem like a big number, but it dominates the competitors: in Q4 2013 alone Samsung shipped 86 million phones.  That’s on top of a platform that already owns the vast majority of smartphone OS market share at a good 81%.  This puts Samsung in a very good position to dictate what the current state of Android is….and it’s very far removed from creator Google’s vision.

It starts with Touchwiz as pointed out in a recent Forbes article.  A Samsung technology to provide a new user experience and frontend to Android that replaces or adds many different features to the Android smartphone.  Some good, some bad….while many critics argue that Touchwiz is a terrible and bloated interface, you can’t argue with sales numbers and hardware.  This extended to other Samsung products including it’s popular television sets and a new OS in development at Samsung to replace Android: Tizen.  But that hides the core of the “Android experience” as it’s been dubbed in the media.  And Google wants Samsung to sit down, shut-up and keep licensing Google technology.

This is where Motorola came into play.

Acquiring Motorola for 12.5 billion dollars and then selling it for 2.91 billion on the surface seems like a bad business decision.  And surely enough there were many pundits that made that call.  But what the majority are forgetting are the numerous patents acquired from the sale for mobile technology (around 17,000 to be precise).  This sale occurred in 2011.  A few years later, Google decided to use Motorola to teach Samsung a lesson.

Enter the Motorola Droid RAZR, X and G.  Three popular phones that run almost bare stock Android.  The purpose of these phones were simple, show users what fast, simple Android could do on it’s own.  Google also began focusing more effort on the Nexus line, dropping Samsung as the manufacturer and taking on LG to release the Nexus 4.

Clearly the growing popularity of these phones and the market share of Motorola under Google was threatening to Samsung.  So they decided to cut a deal in which they would license Google technology for 10 years.  Effectively cutting off Tizen and with promises that Samsung would stop cutting out stock Android apps for it’s own Touchwiz interface.

The next day, Lenovo bought Motorola from Google for 2.91 billion dollars.

For OSU, Android APK files should be available outside Google Play

It’s been a long time since anyone has posted, and a lot has happened since the end of Spring semester (i.e., NSA leaks, Snowden, etc.). However, I just had a small thing that I thought belonged here.

I have a tablet on which I am running CyanogenMod, which is the most widely-used open-source distribution of an Android-like system. On Cyanogenmod, you can install all the standard Google apps, like GMail, Google Maps, and the Play Store, but you don’t have to. One thing about the Google apps is that, for full functionality, most require that you associate your device with a Google account. I don’t really want to do that with this device. Hence, I don’t use the Play Store. Most of the apps I want are available on F-Droid anyway. For the few remaining apps I want, I have been able to download the APK files from elsewhere.

To get on the OSU Wireless Network, the recommended method is to use the OSU Wireless Setup utility. However, this is available only through the Google Play Store. (I assume that manual configuration is also possible, though I have not tried.) I think this is inappropriate. So, I just filed this complaint with the OSU IT service desk:

Dear service desk,

Please do not require the OSU community to use the Google Play Store to get the OSU Wireless Setup app for Android. You should provide users with the APK file so that, if they choose, they can download and install the app themselves without the Play Store. The Play Store should be an option, not a requirement.

As you know, the Google Play Store requires users to sign up for a Google account and register their Android devices with Google. I realize that most people do this anyway, but some of us do not want to do this. The recommended method of connecting to the OSU wireless network should not require users to have a relationship with any specific corporation.

Please make the APK file for the wireless setup utility available for all users on an OSU website.

In the mean time, could you please e-mail me the APK file for the OSU Wireless Setup utility for Android?


Note that OSU does offer Android-specific instructions for connecting to osuwireless. (In fact, it looks like the screenshots are taken from a device running CyanogenMod!) However, at the bottom of the page it says, “Important: If you were unable to connect successfully with the instructions above, please try using the wireless configuration utility for Android.”

This is part of a disturbing trend of organizations assuming reliance on Google. There are many free apps that should be available outside the Play Store, but aren’t — simply because developers assume everyone will use the Play Store. If it ever got to the point where use of University services required use of Google, that would be worrisome.