Google launches Family Library, a way for families to share Google Play purchases

GoogleFamily-Library Google officially announced this morning the launch of “Family Library” – a program that allows up to six family members to share their purchases from Google Play across devices. This includes the ability to share music, movies, TV shows, books, apps and games across Android phones and tablets, and, in some cases, across the web, iOS, and other connected TV platforms like… Read More

Google Maps gets a cleaner look and starts highlighting areas of interest

SS2 It’s been a busy week for the Google Maps team. As we reported earlier today, the Google Maps apps are getting a WiFi-only mode and the team is also bringing more crowdsourcing tools to the mobile apps as well. The company kept the biggest announcement for today, though: Google Maps on iOS, Android and the web is getting a new and cleaner look with a more subtle color scheme.… Read More

Prisma for Android is now live for all in the Google Play Store

Prisma Android The hits just keep on coming for Prisma. Just over a month after launching on iOS and almost immediately capturing the imagination of the Instagramming masses in the process, AI-fueled photo filtering app is Prisma is now live for all Android users. That’s a mere five days after the app first launched in beta on Google’s mobile operating system, through a limited invite… Read More

Google tests a feature that tells you which apps to remove when you run out of room on your phone

Android-M Running out of room on your smartphone is a problem many mobile consumers have today, thanks to sizable photo, video, and music libraries saved on their device. That means that when these users try to download a new app, that process may fail due to a lack of disk space. Since mid-May, Google been testing a new feature that could help solve this problem. Thanks to an updated user interface… Read More

Jury finds Google’s implementation of Java in Android was fair use

oracle v google Software developers can breathe a massive sigh of relief — a jury found today that Google’s implementation of 37 Java APIs in Android qualified as fair use. “Today’s verdict that Android makes fair use of Java APIs represents a win for the Android ecosystem, for the Java programming community, and for software developers who rely on open and free programming languages… Read More

Microsoft Acknowledges the Obvious with Their Smartphone Business

Kaput. That’s the best word to describe what is left of Microsoft’s smartphone business in light of today’s announcement that they are pulling back and reducing the workforce in this business area. This comes on the back of an announcement last week that they were selling off their feature phone business.

Microsoft has a long history in mobile, going back to 2004 but it was the release of Windows Mobile in 2008 that demonstrated the strategic intention. It was well thought out and put the user first in terms of features and functions, a departure for Microsoft at the time. Looking back, the fundamental flaw in Microsoft’s strategy was viewing the smartphone as an extension of the desktop experience, and arguably the iPhone worked in this same mode in early generations but with each successive release, it was evident that the desktop was being left behind by Apple. Microsoft never really did.

Microsoft highlighted that they are focusing on business customers, but herein lies the problem. Businesses are increasingly not the buyer as a result of BYOD and dual-use realities.

According to an email sent on March 26 to all employees, Windows and Devices chief Terry Myerson said Microsoft’s phone business, moving forward, will be “more focused” and targeting companies that are most interested in security, manageability and Continuum.

Essentially what Microsoft is saying is that they are bundling Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) with hardware and an OS. That’s not a strategy but a product aspiration and it’s not likely to happen. Mobile Device Management (MDM) is a market in disarray right now thanks to BYOD and commodization of features into the mobile OS’es. Pricing for MDM has gone to dollars per device from over $100 per device, and it’s entirely probable that it will go to cents per device. There is not “there” there and Microsoft knows it, but what other strategy do they have?

Continuum is another hail mary, a me-too feature against Google Cast and Apple Airplay. This is not something that a growth market makes. It’s a feature that copies what the smartphone duopoly of Android and Apple has made available as a platform feature.

There is one area where Microsoft could find a niche that will keep it in the smartphone game. Hourly workers are subject to an array of regulations that effectively prohibit the use of personal devices. If companies can’t effectively regulate hourly workers on BYOD, then the logical alternative is to provide devices to them with stringent usage guidelines managed by a centralized service.

At any rate, the smartphone market is a duopoly and, ironically, it is dominated by one company that vertically integrates everything in the premium-priced stack while the other is committed to running on everyone’s hardware and targeting price points low-to-high.

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