Daring Fireball Linked List: Andy Rubin Talks Android

What value have the carriers brought? Seriously. What software on Android phones have the carriers added that’s any good at all?

Things you don’t hear iPhone users say: “Man, this iPhone would be even better if my carrier could ‘add value’ to it.”

via Daring Fireball Linked List: Andy Rubin Talks Android.

Good questions.  I would seriously like to hear any answers to these questions as I have never used any of these operator software phones.

  • David Chu

    It's just basic business jargon like 'synergy' and 'stockholder interests' that don't really mean anything unreal life.

    • asymco

      Maybe so, but the mantra of differentiation is being put forward as a key selling point not a nice to have. This in particular vs. Microsoft's new OS (which used to allow differentiation but no longer does!)

      • Iosweekly

        How about the wifi hotspot feature available on some carriers and not on others?

        I know this is more of an android feature that is or is not approved by a carrier, so it's a carrier "adding value" by not crippling a feature.

        I only notice this as I find it infuriating that for the iPhone this is disallowed by either AT&T or apple or both, and is a major missing feature that is available on other carriers.

        I really wish the iPad could tether with the iPhone via a wifi hotspot app.

  • Iphoned

    Andy Rubin should stick to writing code. This interview just confirms the worst about Google and Android. We’ll have to see how it stands the test of win7 mobile competition, iPhone coming to all carriers, IP issues, sloppy fragmentation, and lack of direct revenue to keep funding the effort.

  • The bottom line is Android provides an opportunity for carriers to differentiate their handsets. HTC is probably the best at this with Sense but the need to differentiate is key. Apple will not have this problem, and neither will HP with utilizing Palm. The rest of the OEM’s who don’t own software however need a platform to help them differentiate. WP7 won’t allow for software differentiation so Android is their only hope.

    As was pointed out most have done a poor job but I advocate differentiation because I don’t want to see handsets be like PC’s where the vendors were stuck to differentiate on hardware because they all ran the same vanilla OS in Windows.

    Regardless of what happens in the “other” category there is enough turmoil in the industry that Apple will hold and defend their competitive advantage and differentiation for some time in my opinion.

    • asymco

      The differentiation you mention (Sense) is not from an operator. Gruber is asking where has an operator added value with software. Rubin states that allowing operators to add value is a positive for consumers. I want one example where that has happened.

      • Sameer Shah

        😛 Verizon replaced Google with Bing. Is this the added value that Andy Rubin is talking about? :-))

      • There isn't one you are right. I see more happen with handset OEM's which I still think speaks to the need for differentiation. I'm not sure if I care where it comes from but I would say the service providers need to simply focus on being better service providers. I'm not sure which side of the fence I am on regarding whose responsibility it is to provide the differentiation. At least Android allows for this.

        I'm not saying Android is the savior of the industry either. I also think Rubin's statements about not needing another platform is asinine. He forgot that Google was started at a time when Yahoo ruled the search landscape and everyone said we didn't need another search engine.

        We can't forget there is always room for innovation.

  • min

    Differentiation is great, more choice, but there needs to be a baseline. Start with the base release of the OS and then add features. What we have now are just the opposite – start with base OS and lock out features. Let the only fault of Android be fragmentation based on OS release versions. EOMs that choose to produce products with older versions will find out soon enough that offering 2-year old technology doesn't work in mobile. Hello Kin, can you hear me know?

  • MattF

    There's a paradox here– what the carriers -all- want is differentiation from their competitors. However, they can't -all- get it– because if they do, they -all- fail, and in the same way, by becoming commoditized. If that happens, then the only differentiation will be in price, and the lowest price will win.

    The real differentiation in the marketplace is between OS's– eventually, all the carriers will end up offering all the OS's. Right now, iOS is the only one that seems to be protected from commoditization– but then Apple is in charge of your star product.

  • Gandhi

    The carrier add ons have brought value – but to themselves, not to the consumer.

  • Does anyone else think that the arrival Windows Phone 7 plays into Apple's hands?

    I can see WP7 taking the largest share from potential Android and Blackberry users. E.g. Those who don't want an iPhone.

    It's a war for second place, and Apple are laughing all the way to the bank, just like the iPod.

    • FalKirk

      Agreed. Windows knows that Android has the same business model and is the real enemy here. You put it well, a "war for second place" with the only winner being the iPhone and Apple.

  • Duncan

    The only carrier-dependent improvement (although not carrier-originated) I can think of was Visual Voicemail, which AT&T worked out with Apple. But that was most likely Apple's idea and AT&T made changes to allow it to happen.

  • Yowsers

    Ummmm…..I got an app that let's me check my minutes and balances. Used it once.

  • Mark Newton

    It’s pretty clear the carriers have added no value through software they install on handsets.

    In fact, their software inclusions have probably sapped value from their own bottom-line. Their aggregate investment in developing such software, and the back-end services it connects to, has probably never generated any ROI.

  • sl149q

    The iPhone (all iDevices) offer the user much more opportunity to differentiate their phones by buying App's that THEY want.

    Vendors should stick to a relatively similar version of Android and differentiate with hardware designs. Toss traditional designs out and think outside the box. Look at what Apple did with the new Nano. Re-invent the phone. Don't just do knock off's of whatever else seems to be selling.

  • r.d

    "I think the screen shots I've seen are interesting, but look, the world doesn't need another platform. Android is free and open; I think the only reason you create another platform is for political reasons."

    This quote more interesting then the question you posed.
    Are platforms a political reason. Andy Rubin is smoking too much if he believes that.
    Google can no longer hide behind free and open when they just want to sell
    you to the highest bidder.

  • I remember well when Google came on the search scene, the web search market was already long in the toot – AltaVista, Licos, Excite and many others seemingly doing quite a good job. The question then clearly begged – why does the world need yet another search engine.

    Andy Rubin from this interview sounds either like a bad spinner, or a duchebag.

  • Steven Noyes

    I think the carriers have brought value to the consumers in price. With Android phones going for 2:1 specials, I am betting some of leverage to do that is coming from Blockbuster, NASCAR and a dozen other spam-ware apps.

    Is this a good thing? I don't know (and personally, I would say it is a disservice to the customer) but it does lower the initial cost of gaining access to this technology. Never mind that most people don't do the math and realize the actual phone price is a minority aspect of the price…

    I was much more interested, however, in Rubin's view that platforms exist for political reasons and that competition is good but he does not want any more competition (or maybe, he does not want people to compete with Google?).

    If you look at Verizon of late, they are starting to drop the "Android" and "Google" tag lines from some of their Android Phones. They are starting to market "Verizon" phones. This will allow an easy push to WP7, Android, Bada or any platform they want to promote and keep specific platforms from getting too strong.

  • Robbo Robertson

    I am in New Zealand and we have two main operators; Vodafone and Telecom. Over the years I’ve had accounts with both. I can say with absolute certainty, that neither has added any value to my handset. In fact I even had a Vodafone branded handset at one stage that the Vodafone stores didn’t even know existed, and therefore obviously couldn’t help me with. Value added? What a joke! If only it was funny.

    • asymco

      One could also ask how Comcast adds value to your PC or how the electricity company adds value to your vacuum cleaner.

  • Here is an example of a carrier ADDING VALUE: M-Pesa

    • Danthemason

      In the absence of traditional infrastructure, technology can be adapted quite creatively.

  • asymco

    Of course, the irony in Rubin's comments is that Google acquired and developed Android because they were threatened by Windows Mobile's potential hegemony. For them to now say that the original motivation for Android is superfluous is very amusing.

  • asymco

    In Japan operators introduced mobile payments and many other services however all those services could have been introduced by modular app-based third parties. The question should be re-asked as why should operators *integrate* services into the network and the device when they can be built using common interfaces like HTTP and APIs?

    • Because it’s easier. A USSD development is easier and quicker and well known development to carriers than HTTP and APIs.

      My argument is that carriers can and do add value but this should never be at the expence of third parties. I think Apple will do payments and banking better than any carrier the problem is that they do not seem that interested at least not yet. So carriers provide the service.

      Two, carriers must add value to the pipe to make money and reduce churn; again this must not be at the expense of third parties and/or forced to customers.

      I am, in a sense arguing for "no name brands" like you will find in retail shops. They are there in addition to branded offering from other providers. No one complains about that (except of cause supplier of competing brands).

  • Tom

    Hey, hold on! This is October, 2010. What happened to the constant drumbeat of new Android phones? One or two new ones each week? The Droid pro was the last one, with silence before…
    Can't credit WP7 announcements next week, or can we? New drumbeat starting? One or two WP7 phone announcements each week? Sure, a blitz Monday, maybe next week.

    But where did Android go?

  • airmanchairman

    Wow, @Tom, could it be that the price that Android handset vendors have to pay for Micro$oft relenting on their litigious strategy is stepping off centre stage for the duration of the Windows Phone 7 promotion surge?

    Or is their plan to flood the market just before (as we've seen) and just after the WP7 onslaught?

    Whatever, we'll know for sure in the weeks and months to come…