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Android will genuinely be successful when its users don’t care about processor speed

androidTalk of a possible 2GHz Motorola Android smartphone by the end of the year sure is exciting. Or is it?

Way way back in the old days of 2006, smartphone processor speed was a big deal. That continued through 2010 but in a gradually diminishing way as more smartphones became blessed with fast processors, allowing customers to focus more upon the software experience than hardware specs. Nokia stands out as a cautionary tale in this regard, whose N97 had superb specs but failed to enjoy success largely due to its below market leading software quality.

The processor arms race has temporarily shifted to Android devices, with 1.5GHz models promised soon and now we hear 2GHz by the end of 2010. While this may sound cool, there are a couple of caveats which are worth noting.

Firstly, CPU cycles eat battery power, and without good power management faster processors will require a corresponding increase in battery technology.

Secondly, a 1GHz processor in a cellphone should make that puppy trot along at a decent clip. So if more horsepower is needed, there’s probably some work that needs to be done on the software. I would prefer a 1Ghz processor running fluid software over a 2GHz processor running inefficient software but giving the same user experience.

Thirdly, now that iPhone 4 has addressed most of the key hardware gaps between the 3GS and flagship Android devices, the differentiating factor between the two platforms is now really only in the software rather than hardware specs. So if I was planning an Android smartphone launch, my main focus would be upon getting the best possible software build onto it, rather than pursuing a processor speed race.

I’ll leave you with this thought: How many people know the processor speed of their iPhone? Hardly anyone, because the end user software runs so fluidly. Correspondingly Android will genuinely be successful when its consumers don’t care about the speed of their phone’s processor.

Neil Berman


Jun 11, 2010 - Posted by | Hardware

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