Last week on Wednesday, Docomo services was disrupted for 4 ½ hours, affected 2.52 million users in Japan. The leading Japanese mobile phone service provider—Docomo—identified an Android application—enables free-of- charge voice communication— that caused the service disruption. The services were disrupted due to exceed of data traffic, caused by the Android apps installed on number of smartphones.
It has been noted that some Android apps send out control signals once in every three to five minute even if apps are not in use. Ideally, Android itself transmits control signal automatically in every 28 minutes which itself a big concern for network providers to address. The transmission of such control signals by these apps has caused a sharp rise in the data consumption, which put an extra burden over wireless operators to speed up capacity investments. In fact, wireless companies are already struggling to manage the growing demand for data services.
Docomo is expected to team up with other mobile service providers, along with Google, to ask Android apps’ development company to limit the frequency of the control signals. In fact Docomo is gearing up to ask major revamp in Android OS to limit the frequency of 28 minutes control signal to avoid network strain.
Ironically, Android is an open source mobile device OS and anyone can develop their own app using these codes with free of cost. Hence, overwhelming of Android apps development is going to continue among developers and an issue for Google to handle.
An analyst at British Wireless consultancy CCS—John Jackson—said, “Other operators have complained, some publicly, about the pressure Android apps in particular are putting on their networks. I expect that at the very least operators worldwide will watch this dispute closely to see what remedy might be in the offing. Other operators may use the dispute as an occasion to demand similar modifications. Either way, DoCoMo’s move comes at a challenging time for Google with the Android ecosystem failing to generate Apple-like (AAPL.O) revenue and OEM licensees coming under legal pressure from Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) in particular.”
Recently, Google announced that Android apps download has surpassed 11 billion, and 1 billion apps are being downloaded every month. As numbers of such apps—identified by Docomo—are increasing in the market enormously, it will definitely be difficult for wireless operator to handle the situation.
Indeed, it’s right time for Docomo to convince Google to control such apps available on its Android Market. This suggestion is not only liable for Google but also for other apps developers. The services disruption due to Android apps might damage the popularity of Android Phones.
However, I don’t see this as a permanent solution for any of the network provider including Docomo. with the explosive growth in smartphone market, usage and dependency over Smartphone apps is just going to increase. As more and more people are migrating from traditional styled mobile handsets to Smartphones, the development and download frequency will be keep doubling at regular interval. I won;t be surprise if we see similar sort of ‘allegation’ from other service provider AGAIN after few years – if not months.
Therefore, a strong combine approach is needed, both from Google as well as app developers, to adopt an improved development process that can result into apps that consume less resources of network as well as device.