Tag Archives: technology

Google Is Finally Changing The Mobile Industry

Google Is Finally Changing The Mobile Industry

Google’s Android operating system already enjoys a majority market share among smartphones, but with their Google Project Fi announcement, they are also finally making last changing to the mobile industry.

Android, as an open-source operating system, has been an industry success adopted by a large portion of the telecom industry.  While establishing itself as the rival to Apple’s iOS, Android has also not been as influential in changing the status quo.  Android is fragmented by various mobile carriers, who are able to install their own software and layers that sit on the true Android experience.  Their open system comes at a cost.

Google has long had it’s Nexus line of smartphones, which have the claim of being a true Android experience, making the product line seem to be following what Apple does for every phone they have ever made.

Google has struggled to reign in carriers.  The original Nexus line challenged the carrier-supported purchase model, with users buying a smartphone at full price and taking their phone to the carriers for activation.  In theory, this model held promise if the carriers were willing to stop subsidizing smartphones as a loss leader to make larger profits providing service.  That change never happened, and seems unlikely in the near future.

Google Fi does stand a chance.  Using the Nexus line, Google is offering network compatibility with the 3 platforms of mobility:  CDMA, GSM, and WIFI.  This fourth platform not only uses the previous 3, but it also offer seamless interconnection between them.  As a user, the phone can switch from Sprint’s network, to T-Mobile’s network, to their home WIFI network all during one phone call.  This is powerful technology that the industry will follow.

The other fundamental shift is how users pay and spend for service.  In the current model, users pay for cellular phone service, minutes, texts, and cellular data.  Google Fi has a chance to change the model.  Their service is priced in line with most of the Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs).  However, they key value is driven by the fact that the data the user doesn’t use will be credited back.  People who purchase huge family share plans but only use a portion of their data stand to gain serious money back every month, and could be potentially hundreds of dollars every year.

If this plan is successful, the mobile industry will gain a new source of competition, better prices for users, and more flexibility for users in how they use their data.

Compared to wireline service, the mobile industry is still in it’s infancy.  The landscape will change in the years and decades to come, and users finally have a chance to win in the marketplace.

Thoughts On The Hyperloop

Thoughts On The Hyperloop

By T.M. Tracy Schultze

Yesterday, Tesla/SpaceX CEO Elon Musk open-sourced the idea of the Hyperloop (PDF of the entire idea is located at This Site).

By now, anybody with an interest in technology has read about it. As an idea, it is thought-provoking (see the excellent Ars Technica breakdown of the Hyperloop idea at This Site).

Elon Musk has done this before, turning the idea of the electric car into a viable company that appears destined to be a force in the vehicle market for the rest of this century. So while the idea seems fanciful, I don’t feel it can be ignored.

There is, however, the question of feasibility exists and there are some significant drawbacks. Here are some of the issues that immediately came to mind:

  • The $6 Billion dollar pricetag is impossible. In saying that, I am referring to the cost of the idea from study, to planning, to engineering, and construction. The out of control costs related to the <a href=”http://www.hsr.ca.gov”>California High Speed Rail</a>
  • Project show that we have limited ability to truly project current and future costs for such large projects.
  • One of the ideas from the project was to use the Interstate 5 right of way to control costs. While this seems reasonable on it’s face, it ignores the significant engineering costs related to property easements, underground cabling and piping, aqueducts, rivers, and a whole assortment of
    other issues. Significant rules for keeping lanes open during construction are required because the freeway is part of the Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways. Even after using available Interstate 5 easements, significant Eminent Domain would be required, a process that often ends up in litigation.
  • The Environmental Impact Report (EIR) would be a massive regulatory undertaking, something that would take years to complete for the entire line of the Hyperloop. The Diablo Range Crossing for the California High Speed Rail Project is an example of just how difficult it is to build these projects quickly while respecting State and Federal enviromental laws.
  • The fantastic speeds being reported only relate to “flat” areas of the Central Valley. The speed of the Hyperloop through communities and mountain ranges will be much slower.
  • Another item missed in a lot of articles is the fact that this is a one-way, non-stop ticket. Need to stop in between? Not going to happen. You have Los Angeles. You have San Francisco. And you have a number of pneumatic tubes in between.

This is not a crackpot idea. I distinctly remember my parents using pnuematic tubing at the drive-through lane at the bank. It is well thought out, well conceived, and a provocative idea. However, it is just not a realistic or feasible idea.

I suspect this is one reason that Musk open-sourced the project. He is a great entrepreneur, and if this project was feasible, I suspect he would have moved forward with it himself.

I would just give pause, and hope everybody doesn’t get their hopes up, because this project will not be built in our lifetimes.

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T.M. Schultze is a San Diego area-based photographer, writer, and artist. For a list of his articles, Click Here. To send him an e-mail, Click Here.