Mobile Video in 2011
The hottest gadgets of 2010–2011 are the tablets. Are they computers? Are they phones? What we do know is that they are very popular and definitely mobile. Cruise the coffee shops and take a quick survey of tablets and mini-laptops. These devices have become favorites for soccer moms, boardroom presenters, and college hipsters. The Apple iPad sold 7 million units through December 2010; in distant second place was the Samsung Galaxy Tab with 1 million sold. Researchers are predicting that sales of tablets will more than double in 2011.
One of the primary uses of the tablet computer is for entertainment. Apps such as Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu give more choices to watch video when and how the consumer desires. Of course one of the great features of a tablet is watching videos just like on your laptop or desktop browser but in a more portable form. Look for this space to explode in the first and second quarters of 2011 with devices such as the BlackBerry PlayBook, Asus Android tablet, and the Acer Windows 7 tablet.
The Android Operating System
2010 was the year that someone finally put up a worthy opponent to Apple’s iPhone. Google’s Android open source operating system has breathed life into almost 90 mobile devices over the last 2 years, and that doesn’t even include tablets. In December 2010, Google activated 300,000 Android devices a day. The numbers continue to climb in sales, percentage of smartphones, and overall market share. With the addition of the Android Market, Google has been able to compete with the Apple App Store and offer a range of downloadable applications for Android devices. With the December 2010 launch of the Android software update version 2.3, nicknamed Gingerbread, Google is adding support for larger screen sizes such as WXGA and higher. 2011 will bring the Honeycomb update that will focus on features specifically designed for tablets.
There are several Android devices that deserve the thumbs up along with the operating system. The HTC EVO 4G was designed for watching and shooting video. An 8-megapixel camera shoots 720p, 30fps HD video, and there is a second camera on the front for live streaming as well. The cute little kickstand on the back shows that this device was designed to watch video from the ground up.
The Nexus S is the next thumbs up device for one big reason: It is the first Android device to come with Gingerbread baked in. It also has a WVGA 480x800 screen and records video in H.264 MPEG4 format.
There are a few drawbacks to the otherwise stellar year for Google Android. The first is that being open source allows any device manufacture to build for the Android OS. There are so many devices on the market now that customers are confused. What’s the difference between a Droid and an Android? Why does my friend’s Android video player look different from mine? The questions will only become louder as its popularity grows. The second issue is with version control and the Android Market. Several problems have forced Google to police the applications in the market, and not every device can be updated via the internet. Google is approaching the crossroad. It will either have to let Android be totally open source or lock it down completely.