Google's Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: Sign of dev maturity, market share

Google's Android 4.1 Jelly Bean: Sign of dev maturity, market share

Summary: Google's Android 4.1 Jelly Bean features "a bunch of delightful improvements," but highlight an OS that needs to hold market share not win new converts.

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Google outlined its latest version of Android, code named Jelly Bean, and there are a bevy of upgrades to improve performance, a few smart search tools, better voice features and "a bunch of delightful improvements."

The features are notable on many fronts, but the contrast between Google's geeky approach to Android compared to the pizazz of Apple and its iOS pitch is stark.

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These features, which will be delivered in mid-July to Galaxy Nexus and Xoom users, break down like this:

  • Search results that appear in "cards" that package information in an easy view. These cards can be swiped away later and look like packaged apps.
  • The notification bar will now include social streams, sports scores, calendar dates, flight status, recommendations and other key items.
  • Smarter search via Google Now, a feature that highlights traffic status and predictive time of arrival.
  • Improved photo applications.
  • NFC and Android Beam improvements.
  • Offline voice typing.
  • Keyboard improvements including an algorithm that guesses the next word before you type.

Will any of these new features and upgrades to Ice Cream Sandwich, the last Android release, win over new converts? Probably not.

But here's the rub. Google doesn't have to win over new users. It only has to keep current Android customers on the platform. Google's Android market share is more than 50 percent, according to comScore. Sure, new phone buyers have a decision between an Android device and Apple's iOS (nearly 30 percent share per comScore) along with Windows Phone or BlackBerry, but Google only has to keep you.

If you're already an Android phone user, you're likely to stick with the platform and these features. Even though few folks have the latest Android, older phones will see Jelly Bean as a nice leap. That leap could probably fend off iOS in many cases. Contrast Google's approach to what Microsoft needs to do with Windows Phone. Microsoft has to win customers with leapfrog features and a new interface. So far, Microsoft hasn't been successful in terms of market share. Simply put, Microsoft has a larger hurdle to clear.

Android's improvements show development maturity---most of Jelly Bean revolves around slight upgrades---and the fact that Google has a comfortable lead. Google doesn't have to change your mobile world anymore, just improve it so you'll stick around.

Topics: Security, Android, Google, Hardware, Mobile OS, Mobility, Smartphones

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108 comments
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  • So.....?

    What you are saying is that Google does not have to innovate it just needs to keep the hamsters on the wheel?
    Your Non Advocate
    • Stupid?

      Make an IQ-Test and prove that you are NOT stupid!
      Watchmen247
    • resistance is futile...

      Evolve and innovate, yes (see JB 4.1) Revolutionize, no (they've already done that).
      LBJay
    • Who cares?

      It'll be yet another flavor of Android that almost no devices will be able to upgrade to and almost no new devices will use. There is no Android. There are only Androids. And this is just one more to add to the list.

      Who cares?
      RationalGuy
      • The unfortunate truth

        Exactly. It stinks, but this is what I've been arguing for a while. Android as a platform doesn't exist. The current Android model is to release one-off phones with little-to-no updateability, essentially creating hundreds of walled-micro-gardens. The technique seems to be to hook people on the idea of a platform, but to deliver an isolated smartphone. This means that if they want the upgraded OS, they need to buy a new model.
        lapland_lapin
      • Who cares? Exactly

        99.9% of smartphone owners do not know that their device can be updated, but more over, they don't care. They buy a phone for a price they are OK with, use it for 2-3 years, or until it's lost/broken/stolen, then they buy a new one.
        Updating of old devices is only an issue for people trying to find something to complain about.
        anothercanuck
      • examples please

        Every 1ghz phone is running gingerbread and everyone I've looked at has ics builds leaked meaning they are coming. Even eris/hero runs gb. I recall a that there are some ios devices that no longer update all.
        LarsDennert
      • Android

        Everyone buys a new phone every year ,that I know anyway and all the phones coming out now have ics
        kevgr5@...
      • The buyers

        Only 1000000 customers per day.
        Rformisa
      • 2013 will be the of Ice Cream Sandwich.

        Gingerbread ruled Android for 2012.

        Jelly Bean is Google's mobile OS for 2014.
        Bruizer
      • @ those that disagree

        If ALL Android phones were the same price as the iPhone/mid to upper-end Windows Phone, would Android have nearly the market share that it does currently? Would the extreme majority of prepaid users be essentially locked into an Android phone (mostly because they don't know they have options outside of what is in stock)? Truth be told, most of the millions of Android users are NOT running high end phones. In fact, the majority aren't even aware what version they run, not to mention are running 2.X.

        Do a quick survey around your office among the NON-tech savvy and see how many people can tell you the version of Android on their own phone... the one they use every day.
        ikissfutebol
      • We should care.

        All Android phones can be updated. It depends on the manufacturer whether they can be bothered or have the organization in place to maintain each of their Android phones. If people buying phones demand that they will get updates to the latest Android flavor then you will get your wish list. Apple owners don't have this problem since Apple only produces one phone at a time. Fortunately I have a Samsung GalaxySII which got the ICS update but if you had other models from Samsung you weren't so lucky.
        jsargent
  • iOS far from 30% marketshare

    Q1 2012 Smartphone OS marketshare

    Android 81,067.400.......56.1%
    iOS 33,120.500........22.9%
    Symbian 12,466.900.........8.6%
    RIM 9,939.300.........6.9%
    Bada 3,842.200.........2.7%
    Microsoft 2,712.500.........1.9%
    Others 1,242.900.........0.9%
    Matsi66
    • Tablets

      Does that include tablets?
      We are talking OSs and not just devices.
      thekman58
    • They're all different

      The author gave his source: comScore. Are you saying he misquoted comScore, or are you just peddling numbers from a different precision guesser that you didn't identify? I guarantee you, if you subscribe to the paid services of three of these outfits, you will get three different sets of numbers. Nobody knows for sure; it's all guesswork.
      Robert Hahn
    • Depends on where you get the numbers

      seems every chart from different research companies have a difference betwen percentage.
      William Farrel
    • Maybe but...

      It took 300+ different phone models to gain the lead over just a few iPhones...
      rpollard@...
      • So what?

        That's one way to spin coming in second place by a long chalk.

        What your figures don't say is the breakdown in those 300+ phones.

        Let's talk about SG3, shall we...
        Bozzer
    • Yes but...

      The iPhone only has 30% of the smart phone market because it is 670 euros. (Personally I think it is a rip-off but the fashion victims seem to like them.) Don't forget that Apple has 70% of the tablet market. An Andriod phone can be bought without a connection in Europe from 60 euros upwards. It's all about price vs profit balance and Apple, for sure, have got that right for themselves.
      jsargent
      • The iPhone "high" price

        Sure, Samsung would love to sell you an Galaxy phone for 670 EURO and from time to time, they do. But not as frequently as Apple with their iPhone.

        The iPhone is able to command this price, because it has stable ecosystem behind it. It is also one of the iOS devices (such as the iPad) and you can share software between them. It is also part of the Apple's complete ecosystem, that let's you share configuration data and documents between desktops, notebooks, tablets and phones.

        Besides, Apple has learned this lesson and in no way insist to keep all the market to themselves. It's enough to receive most of the profits.
        danbi