‘It runs Android 2.2‘ – he said, with much emphasis on ‘2.2’. And in case I didn’t get the significance of 2.2 he added, ‘Froyo’. This was my friend who recently bought an Android handset, giving up a Nokia, I guess.
Android has definitely created a buzz well beyond the geeks – there is a definite halo around the brand with the regular consumer. There is a noticeable pride of being associated with a cool brand – not seen earlier with other phones. I too have played around with Samsung Galaxy and found the Android experience far superior to anything that went by as ‘smart phone’ – be it Symbian or Blackberry. In the pipeline are newer versions of Android – Gingerbread and Honeycomb (optimized for tablets). The latter was showcased at the CES 2011 and it certainly looked good in the Motorola Xoom demo. So there is a lot of impending action on the Android front. And along comes the news that Android has beaten iOS in the US smart phone market share.
When compared to the iPhone which is available in just one hardware form, Android is available across a slew of handsets, across brands. So its natural that it will garner a higher market share – the growth is coming at the cost of RIM, at least in the US. Over the next few years, herewith some likely scenarios (nothing startlingly new – most of them have already been discussed in tech articles & blogs):
– The predominant position of iPhone will get eroded further in the developed markets. In markets like India (traditionally ignored by Apple where iPhone is a flop anyway), Android is likely to emerge as the clear No.1.
– At any given point in time, there is a likelihood of more than one version of Android on mobile devices. Some of the smartphone configurations may or may not be suited to extract the best out of that OS (I am making huge assumptions here – I have been told that on low end phones, Android sucks). At least Android has no control on that.
And when it comes to integration, I have been intrigued by the process with which a device upgrades to the next level of Android. How does it work? Is the firmware provided by the handset brand? In the case of iOS – a central control system like iTunes (hated by many, of course) helps integrate the whole process. I don’t get that kind of integration with Android systems. All this seem so much like the Windows market for computers – an OS installed on a majority of devices but on several configurations. It lead to a non-standard performance across machines. And then came the re-born Mac which promised an integrated experience and took away a niche. Will it be the same with Android and iOS?