Device operating systems

OS Watch: Google Sees Dollar Signs in Mobile

Nearly overshadowed by Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s executive musical chairs was the confirmation that it's activating 300,000 Android devices per day, or 9 million per month. (See Google Does the Executive Shuffle and Making Google Less Creepy.)

What this means for Google is that its mobile search and ad business is getting a welcome bump. Searches on Android grew tenfold by the end of 2010 over the year prior. These mobile phones are becoming powerful mCommerce vehicles too, and that's what Google appears most excited about.

"When people complete transactions on devices, it becomes more trackable and significantly more valuable," Jonathan Rosenberg, senior VP of product management, said on the call.

In a recent essay in the Harvard Business Review, new Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt reiterated that mobile is the future for Google. He specifically called out three things the company is focusing on: developing the "underlying fast networks," aka Long Term Evolution (LTE), for new and creative apps; attending to the development of mobile money; and increasing the availability of inexpensive smart phones in the poorest parts of the world. (See Cheap Smartphones Are Smart Choice in 2011 .)

  • Frag Watch: Android 2.2 updates began rolling out in waves to all T-Mobile US Inc. Vibrant smart phones Friday, quieting rumors that Samsung Corp. was intentionally holding them back to make the capabilities of the new 4G version seem more impressive. (See OS Watch: iPhone Steals Moto's Thunder.)

    In fact, the carrier's CMO Cole Brodman was even willing to take the blame, telling PCMag that the delay was due to quality-control and timing issues, specifically with Samsung's custom skin and the addition of T-Mobile's own apps. This is another byproduct of an open and fragmented market, but Brodman promised that updates on T-Mobile would be timelier going forward -- within three to five months of Google making the source code available.

  • HTC Skyrockets on Android: High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) saw its sales soar in the fourth quarter thanks to its line of Android smart phones. The company's sales were $3.5 billion, up 153 percent from a year ago. Overall profit grew 160 percent year-on-year to $500 million. With new 4G smart phones, and potentially tablets, planned this year, HTC expects to reach 8.5 million devices shipped in the current quarter, up 157 percent from last year's first quarter. (See CES 2011: Verizon Takes 10 With LTE, CES 2011: HTC 4G Phones for All! and Tata Offers HTC 7 Mozart.)

  • AT&T Dumps Nokia: It is no secret Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) needs the carriers to be successful in the U.S., but at least one -- AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) -- wants the handset maker to know the feeling isn't mutual. The Wall Street Journal reports that Nokia has decided not to offer the X7 through AT&T because the carrier wouldn't offer up enough marketing or subsidy money. It's possible the X7 is just delayed as the two work through the business agreement, or Nokia could be shopping for another carrier who is willing to commit.

  • The Case of the KIRFs: Most of Nokia's business has come not from the U.S., but from emerging markets -- and there's a problem there too: KIRFs. According to Reuters, Nokia is reporting that KIRFs, cheap handset knockoffs produced in China, now account for one out of every five cell phones sold around the world, particularly in these emerging markets. The copies are illegal and unlicensed and could wreak havoc on Nokia's fourth-quarter results, as Engadget notes.

    — Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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