The unstoppable Android army

The unstoppable Android army

Summary: Android is the ultimate competition in the smartphone space. It has captured huge market share without consumer awareness of the platform, and it is going to keep growing for a while.

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TOPICS: Security
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Participating in this week's Great Debate had me thinking about the juggernaut that is Android and its relentless attack on the mobile space. The adoption of Android has been amazing, surprising everyone (even Google) at how fast it has happened. While Google hasn't done everything right with Android, it is so big it is going to continue growing for the near term.

The latest figures of Android adoption indicates that every day 550,000 devices are activated. This is an amazing number as it doesn't deal with shipments nor sales. A device activation means somewhere there is a new Android device in a user's hands that is turned on for use. The significance of activation is that there is a Google Account behind it, required for activation.

While Google has not rushed into the content business with Android, the numbers would have me believe that is going to happen. A fair percentage of those Google Accounts behind device activations have credit cards (or the equivalent) behind them with Google Checkout, and as Apple and Amazon know that is a significant advantage in the online retail world.

What makes Google's achievement in Android so unusual is it has happened without consumer awareness. Many mainstream customers buying Android phones have little understanding about the platform, as the purchase was made based on the OEM behind the phone or handset marketing. Millions of buyers are not buying an Android phone, rather a Motorola Droid or Samsung Galaxy device. This is actually good for Google as competitors to Android in the mobile space must compete with a several companies and dozens of handsets, not just the platform.

Android also has the tight integration with Google services going for it. As my esteemed debate colleague Larry Dignan pointed out:

If I had to pick one, I'd say the loyalty lies with Google services. Can anyone really tell the difference between HTC, Motorola or Samsung? Aside from annoying overlays and UI tweaks, they're all the same to me.

Tablets have not been the big thing that Google hoped, and that doesn't surprise me. I'm not sure there is a sizable non-iPad tablet market as buyers haven't demonstrated there is one through sales. I don't think that's a concern for Google; the smartphone market has proven so huge for Android that Google could drop tablets altogether with little negative impact.

While Android is often compared by analysts to iOS, the truth is both platforms have done well side-by-side. Sure they are competing but fact is both are doing well in spite of the other. The true competition for Android (iOS too) is going to come from Amazon once the Kindle Fire hits the market.

The Kindle Fire is based on Android, but it doesn't look like it and more importantly it's not going to be a selling point. Millions are going to buy the Fire because it is from Amazon, not based on Android. The cheap price is going to ratchet adoption in the market up to fevered pitch, as mainstream consumers see them in action.

This will impact Apple and the iPad more than Google and Android, as the tablet market is not a big part of the Android ecosystem. I believe Google could simply drop tablets from Android with little impact, and may eventually due so once Amazon joins the fray.

The other big threat to Android longevity in the market is the ongoing litigation with Apple for patent infringements. Samsung in particular has been the butt of Apple's legal team, and court after court has ruled Samsung's Android products infringe on Apple's patents. This threat is looming large over not only Samsung but all Android partners. If anything can stop the massive Android army, the lawyers may be it. This will take some time to happen, so Android should be safe for the near term.

Android is a massive force in the smartphone space, and that isn't going to change any time soon. It is worth watching over time to see how it stands up to the competition once Ice Cream Sandwich comes to market, but it is safe for now.

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127 comments
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  • Enjoy

    Been there, done that, used Android and yes great operating system but with so many devices and so many flavors or the OS out there, my experience turned in to a nightmare and when I thought upgrading would fix my issues, what do you know I have to wait for my cell company to send me the update... never came...

    Enjoy Android, I am quite Happy with Apple and I'm loving iCloud, everything backs up and syncs, all my favorites on iPad show up on my iPhone etc LOVE IT! and I got the update from Apple!! not my carrier.
    Hasam1991
    • RE: The unstoppable Android army

      @Hasam1991

      Why is having so many options bad for you in particular? Isn't choice and freedom to choose the best part of being a human being? I guess you'd rather be a drone and choose one company, one brand, one device.

      As for iCloud - enjoy only having 30 days of your photo stream. Android\Google keep everything in your own cloud storage. Heck, Google's been THE cloud.

      Poser...
      ddevito@...
      • RE: The unstoppable Android army

        @ddevito@... <br><br>The issue I see with choice, with phones, is hoping that the phone you "choose" supports all the things that will eventually come out for it. In the past people would buy mostly a feature phone that had a stock list of things it could do. If you want a camera, get this phone. If you want a music player get this one. Now with these smart phones people hear "iPhone" (or "iOS") and "Android". If you get a current "iPhone" then you are assured that everything for iPhone will run on it. Can you say the same thing about current Android phones? Didn't Netflix not support all devices when it came out? Skype with video chat? Choice is a very good thing. But when you make a choice and it turns out that your choice isn't supported by something that you want to use. Well. That sucks. And its not always a matter of research. If something new is on its way out and it will support "Android", and you have an "Android" phone. Then it comes out, and your phone isn't on the list, yet is a "current" phone. well again, sucks. (current of course being a difficult concept on Android, as a new phone comes out regularly??? its hard to tell which phones replace other phones)<br><br>Android is a good OS, and a great concept. But its a very poor implementation at the moment. Google, the device manufacturers and the app developers all share the fault though.
        tk_77
      • You need to learn the difference between choice and

        noise.
        baggins_z
      • RE: The unstoppable Android army

        @ddevito@...
        Apple does not want you to have true freedom of choice. They want to decide first then you can choice from what they feel you are capable of chiocing from.
        rparker009
      • RE: The unstoppable Android army

        @ddevito@... Nice of you to prove you have no clue what you are talking about. Yes, Photo stream will stream your photos to your devices and purge the photo from the cloud after 30 days but what is the point beyond that? Good for you that you can go to the cloud storage after 30 days with Google's services to get the photo but with iCloud you don't have to, it was sent to all your devices as soon as it was taken so you have it everywhere already. Guessing you think it deletes it from the devices after 30 days too don't you.
        non-biased
    • RE: The unstoppable Android army

      @Hasam1991
      just think how quick all that icloud syncing will eat up that little bitty bandwidth cap AT&T allows you to have
      rparker009
      • RE: The unstoppable Android army

        @rparker009 - yes, those of us who are grandfathered in to unlimited data on AT&T are surely worried about iCloud.
        badqat
      • RE: The unstoppable Android army

        @rparker009 Ever heard of this thing called WiFi?
        non-biased
    • RE: The unstoppable Android army

      @Hasam1991
      I am sure iCloud violates bunch of patents. I am anxiously awaiting the first lawsuits.
      BTW, UbuntuOne is awesome, iCloud- no so much:
      http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/5788247/Problems-plague-Apple-iCloud-iOS-launch
      kirovs@...
    • RE: The unstoppable Android army

      @Hasam1991 Enjoy your IPhone. Choices are what make the world go round. I'm enjoying the speed of 4G and a screen that knocks my socks off. I'm also enjoying freedom of choice FROM Apple. Steve Jobs was a selfish, anti-competitive paranoid who was, indeed brilliant. I did not enjoy feeding that corporation. Apple actually became what they spoofed in their famous 1984 super bowl commercial and I am glad to be free from them.
      larsonjs
      • It seems to me have..l

        @larsonjs ....I have all your choices plus the convenience of iOS. Buying a new phone is something a person can do frequently. Because web services follow HTML 5 both iOS and Android have access to them.

        Even in Beta, the Siri AI is better than Google's simple speech recog. But if I wanted to use Google's it is right there on my iphone as well.
        ShockMe
    • RE: The unstoppable Android army

      @Hasam1991 FYI I have stopped reading your comments long time ago ... so don't bother, find some other blog ...
      AdnanPirota
    • RE: The unstoppable Android army

      You Apple fantards just never could realize the power of Android.<br><br>Alone, yes, Android is indeed weak...OoBE (Out of Box Experience) isn't great. I will give that to you. However, you must realize the power within. The power to MAKE IT YOURS! The power to completely and utterly know, command, and own your phone...hardware, software and all. <br><br><br>In Android, all code is typically Open Source...so literally if you DON'T like how your phone behaves, you can fix that. Phone chugging too much battery? JuiceDefender to the rescue! Need your daily music fix? You can choose from notable titles like Winamp and Pandora to get your musical fix on! Stuck waiting in a doctor's office? No problem, Netflix has you covered...and you can even rent videos once off from Google directly pretty easily or watch that new video on Youtube that everyone was talking about. Nothing on TV, Web or in movies that interests you? No problem, just pick up an e-book...you can choose from Amazon, Sony or Google itself with no fuss. Want your phone to shut up when you're in the weekly staff meeting? No sweat, Tasker can automate tasks like that...and turn the ringer back on when you're done, send your wife a reminder text so she won't forget to pick up your kid from soccer practice, ignore that annoying phone call from your deadbeat family member, figure out when you've left the home or office and switch you to mobile data so you don't miss that important email your boss is supposed to send you and more! Want to tether your laptop, but find out your carrier is being a douche? No problem, just root and run Barnacle Wifi Tether...you'll be zipping around the 'net at 3/4G speeds in almost no time flat. Want even more power out of the previously mentioned apps? Just root it! You'll have complete control over your phone. Worried about trojans and the like? Just apply a little common sense, just because the Android Market is an All-you-can-eat buffet doesn't mean you have to eat all the things, and hire Lookout Mobile Security to keep them OUT. <br><br>You can't do a lot of those things on an iPhail. You live inside a walled garden that only Apple, and your carrier, has the keys to...and you are often excluded from various things that other smartphone users enjoy...like say...in-app purchasing, Flash, or even a browser besides Safari Mobile, Opera doesn't count. Not only that, but you typically have to pay for apps on an iPhail...Android offers more FREE apps than the iPhone does. When you do pay for an Android app, you're usually getting MORE features from the app. Even a jailbroken iPhail isn't very effective...wait 'til the next iOS update and you're effectively locked out from iTunes until the next jailbreak hits the shelves.
      ZazieLavender
      • Oh, I do realize the POWER of Android...

        @ZazieLavender: I simply don't want or need it on a mobile device. It's too <i>MUCH</i> OS for a phone and it has already proven incapable of competing on a tablet. There is not one thing you can do on an Android that I can't do or would want to do on a smart phone using a different OS. In fact, Android's strength these last few years hasn't been its capabilities, but rather its bargain-basement pricing. Again, this is proven by the fact that no Android tablet has been able to compete effectively <i>at the same price</i> as an iPad.
        Vulpinemac
      • RE: The unstoppable Android army

        @ZazieLavender Android hasn't proven incapable of competing on a tablet. Not even close. Sure, Google could have done better and not rushed Android 3.0 out the door. But it's pretty much been fixed via updates. Apple's been better at delivering stable code, but they've had their share of important updates, too.

        What we've really seen is that tablet manufacturer's can't compete with Apple by pretending to be Apple. A big part of it's about money. Apple has spent decades -- since the 1970s -- establishing themselves as a luxury brand in computers and, ultimately, personal computing devices. This is not to be underestimated. This is why Apple's making 5x the profit per PC of an HP or a Dell. It's why the cheapest laptop Apple sells is $1,000, in a country where the average laptop is sold for $520.

        And it's why so many failed to compete in tablets. It wasn't just Android... RIM's PlayBook and HP's TouchPad met similar fates. Why? Price versus perceived value. Apple's selling their entry level tablet at half the price of their cheapest laptop. For those who believe Apple's stuff is really better, that's kind of a bargain. HP, on the other hand, had full Windows PCs and laptops selling for less than the TouchPad. They gave the consumer no reason to believe a TouchPad was worth more than a Windows laptop, or as much as an iPad. Same with Motorola and a few of the others, who also priced their tablets directly against the iPad, but had no existence as a luxury brand.

        Pretty simple: I'm not going to pay as much for a Kodak camera as a Nikon. At the same price, I'll take the BMW over the Ford. Or the Rolex over the Timex. This is entirely a market positioning thing.. it's not even a measure of whether the iPad is ACTUALLY better at some level or not. Simply that the Apple brand is considered a higher level thing than an HP or a Motorola or a Samsung. So they will fail, selling what's seen to be essentially the same thing at the same price. Period.

        We're now solidly into round 2 of the Android tablet race, even though it hasn't quite been a year. Many of these companies have learned their lessons, some have learned it well enough to quite the game. And some have done just dandy at it. The little French company Archos, for example.. the company that practically invented the ARM-based tablet computer (and also had hard-drive based MP3 players before Apple.. a bit clunky), is doing fine with their latest offerings. Which are priced in line with their last eight generations of tablet computers, not priced against the iPad.
        Hazydave
    • RE: The unstoppable Android army

      @Hasam1991 <br><br>Used Android and iOS and WP7 beats both of them.<br><br>You really got that picture wrong.<br><br>To represent Android the toys should be in multiple colours and some would be missing body parts - a clone army it isn't <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/wink.gif" alt="wink">
      tonymcs@...
      • Windows looks very promising

        @tonymcs@... I think Microsoft has found their feet finally and Win 8 will be very popular late next year. Their novel hubs with live tiles are superior to the more static microscopic folders in iOS.

        Microsoft has huge challenges ahead. But now that they have a clue they will be a VERY strong competitor to both Android and iOS.
        ShockMe
    • RE: The unstoppable Android army

      @Hasam1991
      I think you're apple dependent, no self respecting Android user depends on manufacturer or carrier for 'updates', android is a device for the more solicitous, creative, demanding and independent user...
      everereste
  • Activations

    Do factory resets count as activations?
    Michael Kelly