2011: The year of the Android OS

2011: The year of the Android OS

Summary: Android is, without a doubt, the most successful Linux distro out there. And it's only going to go from strength to strength come 2012.

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Microsoft might have sold hundreds of millions of Windows 7 licenses, and Apple might be managing to to persuade tens of millions of people to buy iOS-powered devices every quarter, but the real winner when it comes to operating systems in 2011 as been Android, Google's mobile operating system.

Based on the Linux kernel, Android is a wildly successful platform. By November of this year some 200 million Android powered devices were in use. If that sounds impressive, consider that this number is growing by some 550,000 daily (or 3.85 million a week, 16.5 million a month). To put this into context, last quarter Apple sold 17 million iPhones and 11 million iPads over the three month period.

Note: It wouldn't surprise me if by this time next year Google is activating 1 million new Android devices a day.

Despite Google not charging handset makers a dime for Android, the mobile platform is a huge money spinner for the company. Android pulled in some $2.5 billion for Google during its last financial year (all from ads), and this number is set to double during this financial year. As the number of Android devices out in the wild increase (and the number of eyeballs looking at the ads increase), then this figure will keep on growing.

Then there are the 10 billion app downloads. That's a staggering number, and at the equivalent point in the Apple App Store's life cycle, it had only managed around half this number of download. What's more impressive is realizing that Google only broke the 3 billion mark back in March of this year, so that's 7 billion in around 8 months (it took Google 20 months to hit the billion download mark in July 2010).

There may be issues that Google need to address when it comes to Android, but we can't allow this to take away from the successes achieved by the mobile platform. Apple might be grabbing the limelight with iOS and the iDevices it is installed on, but Android is the platform for the masses.

Android is, without a doubt, the most successful Linux distro out there. And it's only going to go from strength to strength come 2012.

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Topics: Operating Systems, Android, Software, Smartphones, Security, Mobility, Mobile OS, Microsoft, Hardware, Google, Apple, Windows

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42 comments
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  • As if we needed you to tell us that. You haven't been a 'friend' to Linux.

    Open up your mind. Make Open Source your choice. It's your right.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
    • Is not going with a proprietary solution

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate
      his choice also?

      Why is it that when someone points out the weaknesses of going with a Linux based solution, as it does not fit their needs or business model, they are labeled "unfriendly"?

      I find it odd that while many in the FOSS community like to talk how wonderful it is to have "choice" they dislike it immensely when that choice leads others to a non Linux solution as the best solution for them.
      :|
      Tim Cook
      • RE: 2011: The year of the Android OS

        @Mister Spock
        Well its like the irony of democracy being forced upon a dictatorship like Iraq or Afghanastan. You don't have a choice on the democracy, but once you are living under it, you have lots more freedom, just not the freedom to get rid of the democracy.
        deathjazz
    • There's open-source and there's open-source

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate Here's Google's view on Android's open-sourceness:<br><br> <a href="http://allthingsd.com/20110510/what-googles-andy-rubin-means-when-he-says-android-is-open/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://allthingsd.com/20110510/what-googles-andy-rubin-means-when-he-says-android-is-open/</a><br><br>While Android is indeed open-source, it's not a community project. Unless one views the OHA as a community, but it's a closed community. Android is developed internally by Google and released, minus some proprietary bits and the Linux kernel, as open-source via the Apache 2.0 license.<br><br>And all the pretty, Android-based devices manufactured by Google's OHA partners are closed. Tablets from B & N and Amazon, neither are members of the OHA, come fully locked into their own app stores. There are basically three paths to freedom with an Android-based device one has purchased:<br><br>1. 'rooting' it (a bit like jail-braking an iOS-based device)<br>2. 'rooting' it and installing CyanogenMod, or a similar Android derivative, on the rooted device<br>3. 'rooting' it and installing WebOS (when it becomes available) on the rooted device<br><br>I will grant you that Android is more open than iOS, especially for OHA partners and non-OHA entities like B & N and Amazon, but it's closed for most users. Android is in no way open-source like Linux on the desktop (or server), even when compared to Red Hat and SuSE who sell licensed versions of Linux. Both Red Hat and SuSE have their community projects with Fedora and openSuSE, respectively. These community projects are what Red Hat and SuSE dip into to create their licensed products. CyanogenMod, however, has much more in common with the CentOS community. And from what store do I buy a smartphone or tablet with CyanogenMod pre-installed?<br><br>All this said, Android has indeed gone viral and is in the process of taking the world by storm.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
      • I wouldnt even call it a linux distro either

        @Rabid Howler Monkey It's a hybrid Linux and Java OS. But the Open Source people gotta have something to brag about cause nobody cares about desktop linux, or Firefox anymore.

        So they go to great lengths to preach its openness but as you show, its not really all that open and any openness in the platform works to the OEM's and carriers advantages. If users want it "open", then they have to root the device.

        And how come Google never brands this as Android Linux? They seem to want nothing to do with the traditional desktop linux loons.
        otaddy
      • RE: 2011: The year of the Android OS

        @otaddy

        Who are these Open Source people you speak of? You might ask Google why Android is not named Android Linux. Might be because they bought Android Inc. and just used Android. Does it really matter?

        What are traditional desktop Linux loons?
        daikon
      • RE: 2011: The year of the Android OS

        @otaddy "They seem to want nothing to do with the traditional desktop linux loons"... other than creating their own desktop distro, ChromeOS. :-) Instance 47,675 of a ZDNet poster letting zealotry triumph over reality.
        jgm@...
      • RE: 2011: The year of the Android OS

        @otaddy<br>It isn't android linux because apart from the kernel, NONE of it is similar to the GNU/Linux systems you see in other distros. Not even the backend software you dont see. Also the name Android Linux isnt that catchy, like the way Ubuntu isn't (officially) called Ubuntu Linux (some people call it Ubuntu Linux to help others identify that it is not Windows)
        bean520
    • RE: 2011: The year of the Android OS

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate

      While buyers may like the multiple form factors of Android, it really is a mess for developers. It's the year of having the most versions of Android actually out there and functioning, until next year.

      I develop HTML 5 apps and for the most part have no trouble with desktops and Windows phones - even Apple almost implements HTML 5 and you can have it full , as long as you wrap your app in an Apple webview and sell it only though iTunes, But Android - a mess. Below version 2.3 I don't even bother, the app is not going to work. 2.3 is a little better, but still lacks imprtant functions and only until I get to 3.1 do I have a hope of running HTML 5 apps. However, due to multiple phone providers screwing with the OS, what works in the emulator, may not work on a particular phone.

      Android is a hobbyist OS that people use commerically and it really does feel like it.
      tonymcs@...
    • What's the point of that?

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate <br><br>I was happy with Asus Transformer with Honeycomb OS, but now I regret that I did not go for iPad 2. iOS 5 made the iPad very much fit to my needs.<br> Honeycomb with its lags and force-close apps (web browser many times) is just annoying..!<br>Tbh, whenever I hear open source, I start to think what features this OS is missing.. in Honeycomb case, stability and speed.
      Gon_M_KO
  • Surprisingly.....

    2011 is the year my household has transitioned from iOS to Android.
    We went from 5 iPhones and one Android (Nexus One) to 5 Android and 2 iPhones ( used predominately as iTouch's and backup phones)

    Tablets on the other hand: 2 iPads and one Android Transformer.
    rhonin
  • RE: 2011: The year of the Android OS

    I think the Android os has problems. It does not look that great to start but it will freez when you are doing a number of things and by freez I mean stops for a second or two and starts again. The apps in most cases look and feel cheap. The battery in most still does not last as well as it does on other phones. I think it has a way to go before it will be as good as ios. The real star getting ready to shine is the Windows phone. It is so smooth easy to use and so fast. There are still some things it needs but hands down the best looking and most smooth. This will be my phone if they get up to speed.
    imsimsj
    • You really should...

      @imsimsj <br>Try Android out for a test drive instead of reposting your original entry from 2+ years ago......<br><br>Just saying.....
      rhonin
      • It is still true even today.

        @rhonin

        I have used recent models and it's design and performance feel mediocre at best.
        Bruizer
    • RE: 2011: The year of the Android OS

      @imsimsj You're High! Android has looked very polished for at least 3 revisions and I never experienced any freezing. Also, depends on the product how fast and smooth it is... My Incredible was faster and much more smooth than pretty much anything else on the market at the time (including the iPhone 4).
      slickjim
      • You never experience anything that is common in Android

        @Peter Perry You also don't see the sluggishness and instability that is reported.

        Guess what? I played with the new Samsung tablet yesterday and it froze just paging ..... I didn't even get to try anything .... just tried to change a page and it froze. The guy at the store told me that it happens a lot to pretty much all the Android devices. They are becoming experts on removing the batteries .....
        wackoae
      • RE: 2011: The year of the Android OS

        @wackoae

        Not sure about tablets since I cannot see where one would fit into my life, but the only problem I've had with my HTC Thunderbolt was due to the mail app included as part of HTC Sense. Once I stopped using that and just used the Gmail app, it has been very smooth. More importantly for me the LTE in Chicago is ludicrous. I'm seriously considering giving up cable to switch over to just the LTE.
        Dodgson1832
    • RE: 2011: The year of the Android OS

      @imsimsj
      Well two quick thought on your post. I see your point and agree to a point. But first the freezes you experienced are possibly caused by two things. First an underpowered phone, and almost all of the new Android phones are dual core with 1GB of Ram. Second is that the freedom of Android allows you run apps that your phone may not up to speed to run, hardware wise. Live Wallpaper on an iPhone, yea right. I think that with ICS Android will be the top dog not only in terms of sales but in terms of form and function. I just ditched my iPhone4 for an Android. As far as the build quality, I will respectfully disagree. All of the Android phones I have handled (LGs, Samsungs, and HTC) seem to be built at least as well as the iPhone3GS and better than the 4. Sorry, but you drop a four and you are done. If you look at the latest survey on PC World, the much maligned LG was actually #2 in reliability. Now I have never like Motorola for quality, but that is the beauty of choice. I also truly agree that Windows Phone maybe the future if Nokia can get some higher speced phones than what they have introduced so far. I tried to get a Windows Phone 7, before I went Android; but it was a disaster. The carriers have no idea how to support them; they need serious training on the phone. AT&T fried my Samsung Focus trying to install my SD Card; safe to say I broke contract with them when they would not give me another phone at the store and told me to go to their website and have Samsung warranty it.
      MichaelWells
    • RE: 2011: The year of the Android OS

      @imsimsj

      So your hedging your bets on a product you don't actually own yourself. Forgive people if they don't take your advice on board, or even seriously.
      Bozzer
    • RE: 2011: The year of the Android OS

      @imsimsj

      I have an original Motorola Droid, and have never experienced the problems you speak of. Why could this be?
      YetAnotherBob