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Ice Cream Sandwich Can't Take iPhone Spotlight's Heat

By Rachelle Dragani
Oct 10, 2011 10:27 AM PT

Google and Samsung announced Friday they are postponing indefinitely the launch of the latest version of the Android operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich, on a new Samsung phone.

Ice Cream Sandwich Can't Take iPhone Spotlight's Heat

The companies released a joint statement asserting that it would be poor timing to unveil the product on the originally planned date of Oct. 11. Representatives from both companies have reportedly said the delay is out of respect for the late Apple Cofounder Steve Jobs, whose death last week left Silicon Valley mourning the loss of a visionary.

The Ice Cream Sandwich OS was set to follow other sweetly named Android versions, such as Gingerbread and Honeycomb, and provide a single OS version usable on both tablets and smartphones.

Samsung and Google did not respond to LinuxInsider's requests for further comment, and as of press time, neither has announced a new time or place for the launch.

Real Reason?

Though Jobs was a highly respected figure -- and often a feared competitor -- in the world of consumer technology, it's unusual that a product launch is delayed on the death of another company's cofounder. However, there's little evidence Google and Samsung are using the event of Jobs' passing as a face-saving excuse to tweak an unready product.

"Even if there were any particular delays, that wouldn't necessarily hold back a launch. Apple is kind of unique in that it releases products close to the announcement, but most companies don't. An unready product might just push back an availability date, but the wheels are definitely in motion for Ice Cream Sandwich to launch," Nick Dillon, analyst at Ovum told LinuxInsider.

Since Samsung, Google and Apple are fierce competitors and locked into messy patent battles, a more likely reason for the delay could be that Samsung and Google are hoping to use the platform to poke at a few of the flaws within Apple's operating system.

"This would be a great opportunity for them to do some Apple bashing and launch a real comeback. Competitors are always looking to have a real dig at each other, but perhaps didn't feel that would be appropriate timing," said Dillon.

Though Apple's iOS devices have proven popular, the combined total of Android phones sold generally outpaces iPhone sales. Android phones offering lower prices, technically sound hardware and larger screen designs make them attractive options for buyers. Samsung also has a competitive edge in global markets. Since Android phone makers frequently use those points to irk Apple, Google and Samsung perhaps thought it would be best to wait before throwing jabs at the company.

"Samsung will probably emerge as the number one smartphone vendor globally when they announce their third quarter earnings and that would probably amplify the launch fanfare of the Nexus Prime as the fastest and most advanced Android smartphone," Thomas Kang, director of wireless smartphone strategies and global wireless practice at Strategy Analystics, told LinuxInsider.

Want the Big Lights

Jobs' death isn't the only reason Apple's received so much attention lately. The day before Jobs died, Apple announced its highly anticipated next-generation phone, the iPhone 4S. It had been 16 months since the iPhone's last refresh, and when it was announced that it wouldn't be an iPhone 5 that would be stocking shelves but rather an upgraded version of the iPhone 4, the handset received an unexpectedly lukewarm response.

However, new features on the device, such as advanced voice recognition technology and a faster processor, still make the 4S a hot seller. Apple quickly sold over 1 million handsets on pre-order.

"The hardware features of the iPhone 4S might seem a bit of a lackluster, but the improvements in the software of the iOS ... are significant. Especially Siri and iCloud are definitely one step ahead of everyone in the industry, including Android, once again," said Kang.

As emotions and attention settles in Silicon Valley, Google and Samsung will take the opportunity to announce their joint product on their own terms.

"The Ice Cream Sandwich delay is mainly because Google and Samsung want to get as much spotlight as they can get from the press and industry. ICS will be announced once things have settled down and when the industry is ready for the next piece of news from the smartphone firms," said Kang.

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