It seems that as soon as you climb to the top of the ladder in the mobile phone world, there’s always something waiting to kick you back down. For Apple, it was those faulty antennas dragging down the iPhone 4 release. Now for Google it looks like a lawsuit will be raining on the Android parade.
After capturing 33 per cent of the American smartphone market, Google’s beloved Android phone’s operating system has roused the ire of Silicon Valley’s self-proclaimed “samurai warrior.”
Apparently Larry Ellison at Oracle Corp. thinks that Android’s use of the Java programming language infringes on some obscure patents that Oracle recently gobbled up.
But what does this mean for you and I, dear consumers? Well, as opportunistic as it sounds, Google’s loss may be our gain.
Apple could use Google’s legal woes as an opportunity to steal back some of the market share by making a major splash with its next phone after a very poor (and strictly un-Steve Jobs-like) showing with the iPhone 4.
There will also soon be another player on the smartphone scene: the MeeGo operating system, which will likely compete directly with Android as they are both Linux-based and open source.
As for Research in Motion’s BlackBerry, who knows what their future will look like? With the recent flack they have received from India and the United Arab Emirates about access to secure networks, they may be facing dark times. Their new phone, the Torch, has also been less than inspiring compared to the iPhone and Android systems.
At this point the editor would like me to suggest a smartphone for students, but my advice is to hold off for now. Wait for the Google situation to settle down and see what product rumours arise.
However, if you are in the market for a smartphone, keep the following in mind.
Apple tends to have OK hardware, but they are really focused on innovative features, controls and applications. If the iPhone 4 is too pricey or you are worried about the antenna issues, try the iPhone 3GS. I have been using one for a year, and the fact that I haven’t thrown it through or at something says a great deal about its reliability.
Android phones are very powerful and have a growing selection of apps in their marketplace. The HTC Desire is a speedy little unit and one of the strongest entries in the Canadian smartphone market. If you want a physical keyboard, try the Motorola Milestone, but expect a price bump.
The BlackBerry Torch has not been the fabled beauty that RIM had hoped. It may be their best phone ever, but it doesn’t seem up to par with the iPhone or Android systems yet. BlackBerry’s Curve 8530 is on sale from Telus and would be a good low-cost alternative to any of the other phones. If you want to receive your emails as soon as they come in or if you have enough friends to make Blackberry Messenger worthwhile, then the BlackBerry may be for you. However, keep the slow, watered-down browser and limited selection of applications in mind.
As for MeeGo, LG is slated to release the first phone running the platform in late 2010, but this has only been confirmed for Korea. It is expected to land in other countries shortly thereafter, but Canada is always a bit of a wild card in the wireless game.
Just remember, whichever smartphone you end up getting, turn it off in class.