We’re going to take Android away from Google
That is the big highlight quote from this article in the Wall Street Journal about Cyanogen. CEO Kirt McMaster said just that. Knowing only that, the logical response is, ‘Good luck with that!’ But is there actually reason to think this is a real possibility? Could Cyanogen actually compete with Google as more than a niche/hobbyist offering?
In a word, yes. It is still a bit of a longshot. Google is, after all, still Google. They have all the resources, and plenty of incentive, to keep the status quo. But that Wallstreet Journal article also contains another interesting bit of news. In a recent round of funding, one of the investors in Cyanogen is Microsoft. That certainly alters the perspective, doesn’t it?
What Cyanogen really needs in order to compete is to be the shipping OS on more phones. The average user is just not going to go through the hassle of replacing their Google version of Android with Cyanogen. Being able to point you your pal Microsoft can only help when those deals are being negotiated. They already have a few such deals. If this latest round of funding means the skids are greased a bit as they work out more and bigger deals, then what we are saying is, they’ve got a shot.
Hardware keyboards are not dead yet
One of the casualties of the mobile space’s march toward thinner phones and bigger screens has been the physical keyboard. It’s a rare thing. After all, if you want that keyboard, the phone is going to have to be thicker, or the screen is going to have to be smaller. It is something of an odd choice that manufacturers have decided to ignore the userbase that is interested in the physical keyboard. There is enough of an audience still around to support a keyboard accessory market.
One of the latest is from Typo, which is notable for two main reasons. First, it is funded in part by Ryan Seacrest. And most recently, because they are being sued by Blackberry for copying the Blackberry keyboard. You can hit the links for more on that. I’m more curious about the decision to go with the portrait style keyboard. It does avoid the problem of making the screen smaller, but the iPhone is a pretty long and skinny device to start with, and this makes it oddly longer. More perplexing though, is holding it in use. That’s just not a natural thing with so much phone above the keys. I like the idea of the physical keyboard, but I would lean more to the classic slide-out landscape form factor, like you see on the BoxWave Keyboard Buddy.
Will the Ubuntu Edge ever happen?
If you are not part of the Ubuntu herd, you may have missed the news about their smartphone project. In a nutshell, the Edge was slated to be a top of the line smartphone with a clever bit of OS shenanigans running behind the scenes that would let it run a mobile OS, or the full Ubuntu desktop. As you can see from the picture, it’s also gorgeous. This page on the Ubuntu website lays it all out very well.
The rub comes with that bit about crowdfunding. While the project did raise an impressive $12.8 million, that is nearly $20 million short of where it needed to be. So things are on hold for the moment. But Mark Shuttleworth remains confident. The Guardian spoke with him as the fundraising campaign wound down and it sounds like Ubuntu will continue to pursue their plans for Ubuntu mobile.
That doesn’t necessarily bode well for the Edge. Much of the talk is about getting Ubuntu mobile in the hands of device manufacturers to use on lower end phones as an alternative to Android. That’s something I could see happening, but also something I have little interest in using. So, for now, it looks like the Edge was a great concept that will never see the light of day.