"Android is ahead of the iPhone now," Schmidt told an audience at LeWeb in Paris. The room fell silent and Schmidt had to explain:
"Unit volume, Ice Cream Sandwich, the price is lower, there are more vendors."
Currently there are some 200 million Android devices in circulation with some 550,000 being added daily, but Schmidt thinks that Android 4.0 (aka Ice Cream Sandwich) will give Android an extra boost, both in terms of sales and developer interest.
"Ultimately, application vendors are driven by volume, and volume is favored by the open approach Google is taking. There are so many manufacturers working to deliver Android phones globally," Schmidt said. "Whether you like Android or not, you will support that platform, and maybe you'll even deliver it first."
[UPDATE: Here's what Schmidt actually said: 'Whether you like ICS or not, and again I like it a great deal, you will want to develop for that platform, and perhaps even first.']
But is size everything? Getting Ice Cream Sandwich out of the door and onto handsets is only part of the equation. Let's take a look at some of the challenges facing Android that Google doesn't seem willing to address:
- What about updates? Data pulled together by Michael DeGusta back in October showed how seven of the eighteen Android phones had never run a current version of the Android OS, and how most current Android handsets will never see the Ice Cream Sandwich update.
- Android handsets also top the hardware failure list, with 14% of all Android support calls related to hardware failures. These Android device returns alone is costing mobile operators a staggering $2 billion per year
- Then there's the problem with apps. A sucky game is one thing, but what about the free Android anti-malware scanners 'near to useless,' with most products achieving 0% detection rate? Also, despite security researcher claiming that Android is not the major target for malware, Chris DiBona, Open Source Programs Manager at Google, continues to refer to security firms that warn of Android malware as 'charlatans and scammers.'
- What about Flash support? Currently there's no Flash plugin for Ice Cream Sandwich, and after this update is released, that's it from Adobe. No more.
- While Google continues to offer Android to handset makers free of charge (don't worry, Google still pulls in some $2.5 billion a year from ads displayed on Android devices), patent issues mean that handset OEMs are having to hand over millions of dollars every year to Microsoft. The only company that seems to be willing to leap to Android's defense is Barnes & Noble.
- Oh, and there's also that issue of bloatware installed by the handset manufacturers is making Android insecure. And that whole CarrierIQ thing.
I'd like to see Google put a little effort into addressing these issue. I know that the size of market share is important, but I think that these issues are also important for both Android users and handset makers.
If you're an Android user, what issues matter to you?
- CNet: Google's Schmidt: Android leads the iPhone
- Android handsets top hardware failures list
- 'Consumers get screwed' by lack of Android updates
- Microsoft pulls in $444 million per year from Android patents
- Are security firms that warn of Android malware 'charlatans and scammers'?
- Most free Android anti-malware scanners 'near to useless'