Android fail? 25% worldwide market share says "Not so much"

Android fail? 25% worldwide market share says "Not so much"

Summary: Android fail? I think not.


ZDNet's resident open source and health care blogger, Dana Blankenhorn, called Android a failure for Google. However, with a 25% share of the worldwide smartphone market and ad revenue matching that of Apple's iOS last month, I think it's pretty safe to call Android a success. I bet Canonical wishes that Ubuntu were as much of a failure as Android. Hell, for that matter, so do I.

Dana presents some interesting statistics and cites James Allward's Harvard Business Review assessment of risks to Google stemming from the openness and customizabilty of Android as the reason for Android's "failure." However, Allward's arguments themselves are flawed. Allward correctly points out that Google's major source of revenue from (and actually major motivation for creating) Android is search revenue from the mobile space.

However, he goes on to suggest that because carriers are, in some cases (especially in China), choosing to set a default search engine on the open source OS to something other than Google:

Baidu, the internet search engine that has successfully challenged Google for ownership of the Chinese market, [is] reportedly in negotiations with a number of smartphone manufacturers to remove all references to Google, and replace them with Baidu.

That was bad news. But what should really have Google concerned, however, is that there are instances of this fight being moved to domestic soil. Microsoft recently negotiated with Verizon that some of the Android phones that ship to Verizon customers will have Microsoft's Bing, not Google, as the default search engine. And the manufacturers are getting in on the act too: Motorola recently released a new phone, the Citrus, based on Android, but shipping with Bing.

So, apparently he hasn't heard of this little-known desktop browser called Internet Explorer. It comes on PCs running some obscure OS called Windows something or other. It ships with Bing as its default search engine, too. And yet, Google utterly dominates search in the Windows world, just as it does elsewhere. Go figure. You think users might actually change their default search provider, search on their mobile browser, or install another mobile browser that does use Google as its default search?

Sure, open sourcing Android has and will result in some collateral damage. And Google is going to have to begin exerting some control over upgrade cycles with carriers to reduce fragmentation, which I frankly think is a far bigger problem than Baidu remaining dominant in Chinese search (this is nothing new). However, millions and millions of handsets, emerging tablets and similar devices, and now Google TV, all running Android, mean that Google shouldn't be losing too much sleep over the Motorola Citrus.

Guess what? We can change our default search providers. It's pretty easy and, as long as Google keeps rolling out compelling features, you can bet the company is going to keep raking in the mobile search revenue.

Android fail? Android challenges, possibly. Even Android risks, if you're feeling pessimistic. But Dana's conclusion that Google should build its own phone that can leverage ubiquitous WiFi and interesting partnerships with 2nd- and 3rd-tier mobile carriers is the best evidence that Android is a wild success. It's a platform on which just about anything is possible for just about any company with some capital and a bit of imagination.

The open source model has made this happen and will ensure that while iOS might have an incredibly elegant user experience, Android will continue to grow in new and unprecedented ways. Diversification and ubiquity will mean that it's OK for some users (even a lot of users) to keep on searching with Bing, Baidu, or Bob's House-o'-Search. It simply won't matter in the grand scheme of things. I so wish that I could fail in everything I do as well as Google has failed with Android.

Topics: IT Employment, CXO, Health, Legal

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

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  • Not so much

    >> It ships with Bing as its default search engine, too.<br><br>Every computer where I've installed IE of late has asked me to choose from a ballot of default search engines, and the default is (I think) randomly selected, not Bing.
    x I'm tc
    • RE: Android fail? 25% worldwide market share says


      It is Bing every time in my experience.
    • You and Chris missed the bus...

      Try re-reading Dana's blog about android failing... <br><br>Those Roids that Dana is talking about are phones where the carrier has changed the default search and locked it down (granted he could have been a little more clear on that).. So unless a user roots thier malware infested Roid, they can't switch the default search provider back to google. <br><br>Dana's point is that Google is letting carriers tweek them out of search revenue (the google bread and butter). So in that way, Roid is failing google. <br><br>Instead of reading and trying to comprehend what he is saying, You only read the title and completely missed the bus to understanding... You immediately boarded the butt-hurt express and jumped off in the town of conclusionville.
    • RE: Android fail? 25% worldwide market share says

      @jdakula It's Bing, but it immediately asks if you want to switch... If you cancel the ballot you've got bing.
  • Android is definitely is not a failure, but Apple leads with iOS overall

    with iPod touches and iPads, <b>Apple's share of mobile OS market in caledar 2010Q3 is 15% higher than Android OS</b>.

    In Q4 Apple's lead will probably only increase since Apple still could not produce enough of iPhones and iPads for these devices to be actually available for sale.

    Half of the world's countries do not have these devices selling officially, and in many others, where these sales officially "started", only tiny cargo batches were shipped for sale with like three weeks "no stock" periods after.

    Basically, only 2011Q1 will be the first quarter when Apple will be actually selling its goods worldwide.

    Android will have better story by the middle of the year *if* Andoid tablet will fly. Otherwise worldwide release of iPhone CDMA will push its share.
    • RE: Android fail? 25% worldwide market share says


      You got it backwards. iOS has a lead over Android, but that lead has been diminishing all year long. Android's now growing so fast that even the combined global sales of the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch aren't enough to prevent it from gaining on iOS. In fact, Android's gaining so fast that both its gains and the iOS losses can be clearly seen on global mobile usage stats each month. Once Android tablets become ubiquitous next year, iOS will permanently lose its global market share advantage. There's simply no way that Apple could expect to compete with that many devices with so scant a gadget lineup.

      What's this about CDMA pushing iPhone share worldwide? That's impossible. GSM is the global standard while CDMA is quite a rare find outside the US, so much so that a CDMA phone outside the US is basically a paperweight. A CDMA iPhone might give the iPhone a slight increase in sales in the US market, but adding Verizon won't help Apple fend off a global onslaught of Android devices.
      • RE: Android fail? 25% worldwide market share says

        @eMJayy There are several countries with significant CDMA presence besides the USA - mostly in Asia. Maybe 10-20 million more in iPhone unit sales is nothing, but it's there for the taking.
  • but google doesn't sell phones, or Android.. they sell targeted ads...

    for Google Android is a success if Android remains a platform on which Google can sift data off of easily and push targeted ads too.. if android gets away from Google and it's changed by manufactures and/or carriers in ways the impede Google from selling more targeted ads, then android might well be a failure despite being ubiquitous.. <br><br>Christopher, you're kinda missing the point.. Google isn't a phone manufacture, they don't sell an OS.. they give it away.. in Google terms you can't measure android's success or failure on units of android OS and/or phones sold.. only on Google's ability to sell more or higher quality/priced targeted ads.. that's the business google is in... the reason they produced android was so that 1st RIM would have control over mobile advertising.. if you look at the 1st android protos they looked like blackberry clones... then when the iPhone came out android magically turned into an iPhone clone.. this is about control of mobile ads for Google.. so i guess it's a partial success since it seems to have prevented those two thing from happening but, if the manufactures and/or carriers take control and Google isn't able to do their thing effectively and control mobile advertising then android would have all been for not.<br><br>again.. google doesn't sell phones, they don't sell OSs.. they sell targeted ads.. android is a success if it continues to aid Google to that end..
    • Agreed. Google really is selling Android to force the rest to be open.

      Google wants to be able to compete in the mobile market, and the only way to do that is to not let others lock them out. A great open platform that all manufacturers can build on is one way to keep from getting locked out.
      • RE: Android fail? 25% worldwide market share says

        @DonnieBoy You got it.
      • RE: Android fail? 25% worldwide market share says


        I agree.

        The situation for Android versus iOS is very similar to that of MS DOS versus PC DOS back in the mid-1980s.
    • Not exactly

      @doctorSpoc Google does sell parts of Android or at least services considered to be differentiating parts of Android. It also controls dev of new versions 100%, only Google controls the next version of Android. Specifically, Android is not 100% open sourced. Gmail, Google Maps, Google Navigation, business admin controls, etc. are all services controlled by Google. These mobile services are not free to manufactures.

      Android might not have improved Google's search presence in China but it certainly hasn't hurt it either.

      Also, the G1 did not look anything like a Blackberry. And the iPhone came out about 2 years before the G1.
      • Google's accounting on those &quot;sales&quot; is iffy at best.

        @PatKelly More than one journalist has posited Google has "removed cost as a barrier" to handset manufacturers who want to include Google services on devices they make which meet the reference hardware requirements. Bottom line, Google knows better than anyone else that Android's revenue will be negligible compared to ad sales money.
      • ?!? G1???

        @PatKelly - here's what android looked like pre iPhone<br><br><br><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"></a></a><br><br><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"></a>
  • RE: Android fail? 25% worldwide market share says

    Worldwide release of CDMA? Isn't that an oxymoron? The better part of the world (82%) uses GSM, not CDMA. CDMA is used mostly in the US and some Asian countries, but it is far and away in the minority of usage worldwide. I travel to Europe and Japan for a living and they all use GSM. I think it will have less of an impact overall. Everywhere I travel in the UK & Europe, I see people with their iPhone's already. I believe they have saturated most of the market already.
    • true, but...

      the number of cdma carriers is small. true. but the addressable number of potential customers is very large. about one billion people.
      banned from zdnet
      • RE: Android fail? 25% worldwide market share says

        @banned from zdnet always talking trash or un-logic things just to save the Apple.
    • RE: Android fail? 25% worldwide market share says

      As it has turned out, billions of poor people using GSM dumbphones have not magically turned into smartphone + data plan consumers. Thus the richer CDMA market could have a far greater impact on sales.
      • RE: Android fail? 25% worldwide market share says


        As the newer lower end <$50 on contract and <$200 off contract Android phones start proliferating, watch them give feature phones a run for their money. And at $10 per month data plans accompanying that, it's inevitable that most of that money is going to flow towards Android stakeholders (Google, carriers, devs, ads...)
  • Well, Android DOES have problems, but, under the circumstances, they have

    probably done the best they can. The problem is to get manufacturers on board, you have to let them diferenciate. The problem is the carriers that want to make money with crapware and restrict functionality to charge for extras, etc, etc. The problem is, that they had to start sometime, and at the same time keep improving the OS, making it impossible to avoid the different versions of the OS in the field. The problem is, there is a trade off between uniformity and choice.

    I think that Google handled all of those trade offs about as well as could be expected. If they can make a "Google" phone that does NOT have the crap, and is always updated rapidly to the most recent version, and is cheap enough, that might gain some traction in the future as well.