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Android, CES 2014 and the Internet of Things

Internet of Things

Augmented reality glasses. Connected appliances. Connected cars. Motion-capture gaming exoskeletons. Smart watches. These are some of the technologies and innovations I kept close watch over at CES 2014. It can be noted that many of these technologies can be applied to Android, or at least have Android at their core. Even Intel’s thrust to support dual-booting Windows and Android devices can be considered part of this.

Where was Apple to be seen at CES? Arguably, CES is not exactly Apple’s domain, as the company is more comfortable with launching products and technologies during its own conferences, such as WWDC. At CES, it seems Android does dominate.

Jim Edwards, who writes at Business Insider, says the dominance of Android was evident even on the floor, where most of the attendees were using Android devices. At least this was the informal observation. While not exactly a scientific observation or based on significant enough surveys of the 150,000 people or so who attended the event, there may be some merit to such a claim.

For one, in terms of raw market share, Android does dominate, with an 80 percent share in smartphones worldwide. This is bound to trickle down to a more localized statistic. In the US, however, the market share is a bit less pronounced. According to latest data by Comscore for the three-month period ending November 2013, Android enjoys a 51.9 percent market share, compared with iOS’ 41.2 percent.

Bigger screens rule? The BI article claims that Android’s advantage is mostly due to usability. At CES, for example, one will need to go around to cover enough ground across the different vendors, keynotes and demonstrations. Lugging around a laptop might be inconvenient. With this, smartphones with bigger screens are an advantage. The 5-inch screen of the Galaxy S4 makes it easier to take notes and keep track of events through social media than through the iPhone’s 4-inch screen, for instance.

When the iPhone first launched, it had a bigger screen than the smartphones and feature-phones it aimed to replace. In 2007, Symbian phones and BlackBerry devices had comparatively small screens and cumbersome interfaces. Android smartphones soon started dwarfing the iPhone’s 3.5-inch screen, which prompted Apple to increase the size a bit to 4-inches. Still, Apple may need to catch up in its next iteration of the device — an argument for an iPhone 6 with a potentially bigger screen.

But wait, we might be forgetting something here. Apple does have bigger-screen devices: the iPad and iPad Mini. Considering the cellular-enabled variants, these are also viable contenders against big-screened Android smartphones, or so-called “phablets” especially the 7-inch Mini.

The Internet of Things. More important than screen size and ease of use, however, is the fact that CES is a trade show where the next big thing could potentially come out of. I’m betting on wearable devices here, like smart watches and AR glasses. In the gaming realm, I have expressed confidence in alternative interfaces, such as the PrioVR full-body motion-capture suit that works with the Oculus Rift virtual-reality glasses.

Here’s where Android’s brand partnerships and more open nature could be an advantage. Android has already made inroads into gaming, with various Android-powered console systems. Android is also expected to have a big influence in connected cars, with the Open Automotive Alliance. Android has the potential to impact on our lives not only in smartphones, tablets and laptops, but also in our homes, cars and everything else. The Internet of Things is the next big thing, and I’m looking forward to Android becoming dominant in this space.

Image credit: Silicon Labs

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