Android army keeps growing as Dell enlists; Will the mobile OS war follow PC history?

Dell is just the latest Android convert. Google's mobile OS is beginning to swamp the market and it's going to be very interesting to see if other operating systems can continue to gain market share.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt has said that "Android adoption is literally about to explode" and it's hard to argue with that assessment given the troops that are amassing behind the mobile operating system. Dell is the latest to enlist with an Android smartphone and Motorola's Droid is the highest profile device, but it's the total sum of converts that'll make

the difference.

Android is beginning to swamp the mobile market and it's going to be very interesting to see if other operating systems---namely Apple's iPhone OS and RIM's BlackBerry OS---can hold or gain market share as Google's OS infiltrates multiple devices. In many respects, the Android strategy to be on every device is similar to the early days of the Windows-Mac war. Microsoft enlisted multiple PC partners to swamp Apple to make Windows the dominant operating system. Will there be a mobile replay here with Android? Operating systems that are tethered to one device are going to be swamped from all sides by Android's army. It's hard to envision 2010 and not call it the year of the Android device.

"You have all the necessary conditions. You have the vendors, you have the distribution, and so forth," said Schmidt on Google's third quarter earnings conference call last month. Simply put, Android is amassing all the ingredients that Microsoft used with Windows way back when.

Meanwhile, the Android army is beginning to advance. To wit: Dell (right), Motorola, Garmin, Verizon, HTC, Barnes & Noble, LG and Samsung are just a sampling of companies making bets on Android. As these companies roll out what is likely to become hundreds of devices over the next few years at least a few of them will be hits. Motorola is expected to ship 1.3 million Droid devices in the fourth quarter, according to Morgan Keegan analyst Tavis McCourt.

Special report: DROID takes on iPhone

What's also notable is how Android is playing overseas. For instance, Dell isn't playing ball in the U.S. It's going right to where the growth is: Asia and Brazil. Perhaps Dell will flop as a smartphone provider, but it won't go down without advancing Android's cause somewhat.

All of these troops make big predictions for Android market share entirely plausible. Gartner said that Android only had 1.6 percent of smartphone platform market share in the first quarter. However, the picture in 2012 will look dramatically different.

Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney noted at the research firm's IT Symposium last month:

Expected improvements in the Android environment backed by the power of not only Google's search engine, but from their other up and coming consumer (for example, maps) and enterprise products should make this a dominant platform. Potentially the integrative, open environment of Google could easily top that of the singular Apple.

By 2015, Gartner predicts there will be three dominant platforms and several niche players. Given the army that Android is amassing it's realistic to predict that the open source mobile OS will make the cut.

Also: Android opens doors for Google's next-gen search, ads and tools


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