History rhymes: Android dominates smartphones like Windows dominated PCs

Summary:Android's success doesn't rest with one device. Some hardware partner will cook up something to entice the masses and swarm Apple.

Google's Android market share approached 80 percent as Apple ceded share in the second quarter to wind up with 13.2 percent of the smartphone operating system market, according to IDC. In other words, Android is doing to Apple what Microsoft did in PCs decades earlier.

Now market share via IDC isn't everything---Apple makes a lot of money from the iOS and iPhone ecosystem, but it's hard to avoid noticing how tech history is beginning to rhyme.

Google with Android has created a vast partnership network as Samsung, LG, Motorola Mobility, Huawei, ZTE and others all have run with the open source operating system. In other words, Android's success doesn't rest with one device. Some hardware partner will cook up something to entice the masses.

Apple has its vast fan club, but iOS relies mostly on the iPhone's success.



In the early PC era, Windows created hardware partnerships with Intel (Wintel) and various computer makers. Microsoft became dominant and flooded the market. Years later, Microsoft struggled with integrating hardware and software, but still has commanding market share in PCs.

Apple had a big fan base, but was outgunned on market share.

The big question is whether this time in tech history is different. Does market share matter as much? Apple sells a ton of iPhones around the world, but to date has ceded the lower end of the market. Android is the land of inexpensive smartphones.

Should Apple get its low-cost iPhone rolling it can close the Android gap a bit. In fact, the mobile ecosystem may cheer for some platform to keep Android from being too dominant. Windows Phone shipments surged in the second quarter, but still represents a paltry 3.7 percent share. BlackBerry has 2.9 percent smartphone OS share.

It's hard to see Apple struggling like it did in the aftermath of the Microsoft Windows thumping, but the similarities between then and now are appearing more. However, Apple is only a product cycle away from recovering some market share. We'll know in a few years how this saga plays out.

Topics: Mobile OS, Mobility, Smartphones


Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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