Great Debate: More growth ahead for Android, or is it stagnation time?

Moderated by Jason Hiner | October 10, 2011 -- 07:00 GMT (00:00 PDT)

Summary: Can Google's Android operating system continue its push toward mobile domination? James Kendrick and Larry Dignan debate.

James Kendrick

James Kendrick

Android Growth

or

Stagnation

Lawrence Dignan

Lawrence Dignan

Best Argument: Android Growth

Closing Statements

Lots of partners and quality phones

James Kendrick

With over half a million device activations daily, Android is here for the foreseeable future. Google has created a monster in Android, and one that reaches all corners of the smartphone market. As budget Android phones appear in greater numbers, the phones will start selling en masse in emerging countries in unprecedented numbers.

Google's Achilles heel is in the tablet space, as no definitive non-iPad market has been confirmed in the consumer space. This is further complicated with the upcoming  Kindle Fire. Google may find it a good strategy to concentrate on its huge smartphone base, and drop tablets entirely.

The scattergun approach to the market of having lots of partners releasing lots of quality smartphones is the reason Android has grown so phenomenally. Continuing this strategy doesn't gain Google any Android brand awareness, but it doesn't need any. The platform will continue to grow at the expense of the fall of the BlackBerry.

 

Commodity hardware a tough game

Lawrence Dignan

Android is at an inflection point on both the smartphone and tablet side of the equation. Android smartphones are swarming the market, but growth will stagnate due to Windows Phone 7 distribution. Windows Phone will be a hedge for HTC and Samsung, and garner global distribution via the Microsoft-Nokia deal.

Ultimately, Android commoditizes hardware and that's a tough game for handset makers to stay in for the long run. Meanwhile, Apple's iOS is broadening its distribution. If RIM stabilizes, Android stagnates.

On the tablet side, Android tablets lack traction. Android will continue to be dominant, but that hockey stick growth curve will be a thing of the recent past.

Verdict: More growth ahead. It's tough to see Android faltering

Jason Hiner

The pace of growth for Android over the past two years has been remarkable, especially when you consider that it came into a crowded market dominated by entrenched players like Nokia, BlackBerry, and Microsoft. However, I agree with Larry that the iPhone may have been one of the biggest factors in Android's success because buyers were drawn to it but it was available on a limited number of carriers, so the carriers jumped on Android as a better alternative to the iPhone than any of the existing phones and that bet worked.

Android market share growth is going to naturally slow now that it has already taken so much share, plus you have the fact that the iPhone is now available on a lot more carriers and Windows Phone 7 could start to steal some attention away from Android at hardware partners like HTC and Samsung. That said, there are still a lot of customers converting from old cell phones to smartphones and Android is already in the market with a bunch of solid devices and so it's prepared to capture a lot of that business.

While Android has plenty of problems, which Larry has rightly noted, it's tough to see Android faltering at this point. There are just too many hardware makers and telecom carriers that are pumping out and promoting Android devices. They love Android because they can do almost anything they want with it, and that's also where a lot of the problems come into play. So, I'm going to rule in favor of James and the crowd for this one.

Doc's final thoughts: The Avalanche Called AndroidIN PARTNERSHIP WITH Ricoh

Doc

Sorry Larry, but you’re on the losing side of this argument. James is right – the sheer momentum of Android assures it will be a long term success. In fact, rather than describe it as a snowball gaining size as it rolls down the hill (nice analogy James), Doc would call it more of an avalanche. Google will probably bury some of the operating system rivals like Symbian and maybe even RIM. (And does anyone even remember the promise of Nokia’s MeeGo?) I wouldn’t give Windows Phone 7 much of a chance either, despite Microsoft’s sizable muscle (which has become pretty flabby of late). It’s clearly down to Apple and Google in the smart phone wars.

Why? Well, aside from the raw numbers (which put Android in front of the pack), there is likely to be increasingly better integration with Google Plus and Google search, and Google whatever-comes-next. And when you combine Google Wallet (and similar third-party apps) with all the near field communication (NFC) chips that will soon be embedded in Android phones, you have a powerful commerce tool that the credit card processors and direct marketers are wetting themselves over. Mobile payments are the next big thing, and Google is in the best spot to stimulate that market – Apple will eventually get there and certainly do it better, but Google will drive the bus.

Doc’s not saying Google will be king of the hill forever – we all know that today’s leaders are often tomorrow’s has-beens. But I wouldn’t bet against Google anytime soon, and if you can’t or won’t buy an iPhone, then Android is clearly the second best choice, clunky interface and all.

Talkback

170 comments
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  • RE: Great Debate: More growth ahead for Android, or is it stagnation time?

    while Android has it's issues.. i believe the growth will go on
    Lone Goat
    Reply Vote I'm for Android Growth
    • RE: Great Debate: More growth ahead for Android, or is it stagnation time?

      @Lone Goat There are more: 1)Phone choices with Android! 2) More carrier choices with Android. 3) More free APPS with Android 4) More customization with Android. 5) More updates on OS with Android than with iOs and Windows. 6) More newer phones around with top brands as Samsung and HTC! Go Android!!!
      petite_kj
      Reply 1 Vote I'm Undecided
      • RE: Great Debate: More growth ahead for Android, or is it stagnation time?

        Android growth is already stagnating.<br><br>Androids global sales growth rate dropped to 3 percent in the March 2011 quarter from 7.5 percent in the fourth quarter 2010 and 9.5 percent in the September 2010 quarter. <br><br>CommScore reports Android growth in US smartphone marketshare (where Android growth has been strongest in the developed world to-date) has dropped to 1.9 percent July through to August.<br><br>Android tablet marketshare has already dropped from 34% in Q1 to 26.8% in Q2 are projected to hit 23.0% this quarter according to IDC.<br><br>Kevin, that 550,000 Android smartphone, tablet and other device activations per day sounds great until you realise Apple sold 622,000 iOS devices per day in the 45 days up to October 4th this year - and that was with the year-old iPhone 4.
        marthill
        Reply Vote I'm Undecided
        • RE: Great Debate: More growth ahead for Android, or is it stagnation time?

          Android is still missing in action in the mini-tablet market where vendors such as Archos and Samsung with tablets ranging from 2.7" up to 4" have been unable to make a dent in the complete dominance of the iPod touch which in the Dec 2010 quarter when Apple sold a third as many units as all Android smartphones, tablets and other devices from all manufacturers combined.

          The iOS installed base at 250 million is far larger than Android's 135 million. ComScore reports iOS has 43.1% of the active installed base in the USA in August 2011 versus only 34.1% for Android. The numbers in Europe are even more in favour of Apple with iOS 116% larger than Android.

          All these numbers are however useless if those Android users don't buy more apps and browse more sites and ads than iOS users. The data says they don't. The iPad had 97% web browser share and iOS as a whole had 58.5% browser share in August compared to Android at only 31.9% according to ComScore.
          marthill
          Reply Vote I'm Undecided
        • RE: Great Debate: More growth ahead for Android, or is it stagnation time?

          Nielsen reports that iOS users have 27% more apps than Android users and use them 13% more than Android users. iOS app developers make 18x more income than Android devs according to ABI Research etc. MobClix reports that iOS users are up to 2x more valuable to advertisers than Android users.

          Apple is now capturing 61% of the profit share of the entire cell phone industry.

          All things considered, it is obvious that although Android will maintain a large share of smartphone market unit sales, further growth *is* stagnating and those numbers are not translating into overall platform market share or manufacturer profit share or developer profit share.
          marthill
          Reply Vote I'm Undecided
      • RE: Great Debate: More growth ahead for Android, or is it stagnation time?

        @petite_kj There are also more PROBLEMS with Android. For the end user, that will be the final product of the whole equation on each unique device. Too many PROBLEMS breeds disloyalty. Ask Microsoft about how its still hurting in being trustworthy due to the problems it had with Windows Mobile. While that's mainly a matter of perception, as Windows Phone seemed nice for the short time I used it, it's still a result of the PROBLEMS that were present. Google has to manhandle control of Android back in-house if it wants to keep gaining marketshare. Android is capturing the ignorant right now. Developers like the open feel of it, but can see the light at the end of that tunnel beginning to flicker. While that control should result in fewer crap apps, it will constrain the sense of freedom developers feel they gained by developing for Android. Having used all the major OS's, Android proves to be the most disappointing in the user experience, with Apple and webOS being the least worrisome.
        trollCall
        Reply Vote I'm Undecided
      • RE: Great Debate: More growth ahead for Android, or is it stagnation time?

        @petite_kj More free apps? I am sure you are one of those haters that assumes every apps for iOS costs an arm and a leg but they don't. Do you have any stats to prove this claim or are those irrelevant? More updates? Does an update count if nobody gets it? On iOS devices you are guaranteed to get the updates for at least two years, not so on Android. Number of updates isn't always a good thing either. If you need an update every month that's probably a sign there are numerous issues that are being worked out month by month.<br><br>I will give you the others but more is not always better.
        non-biased
        Reply Vote I'm Undecided
    • RE: Great Debate: More growth ahead for Android, or is it stagnation time?

      @Lone Goat Larry Dignan nailed it. Monopolies always provide better technical service when motivated. Diversity of hardware models is bad for software apps. Single hardware models with few optional hardware features means more and better software at lower costs. The closest Android can come is to create a public database of hardware IDs under GOOGLE administration for universal device/hardware platform description and API registration. Even then software has to read IDs or category code and adapt - far more work than simply using the single hardware solution option Apple provides. In hardware less variety is better.
      wellduh
      Reply Vote I'm Undecided
  • Growth and Refinement

    I agree with Larry that Android does feel rough a times and could use some refinement.
    My concern is that without the growth of an OS like Android or WP we will see a serious stagnation in the mobile world driven by the tenants of Apple.
    With their mindset of "family consumerism" and "Apple Moral Values" we need an area where the "wild west" is open to those who want to expand and have choice - the pioneer spirit if you will.
    Android: let's see where it leads us. It allows me choice.
    rhonin
    Reply Vote I'm for Android Growth
  • RE: Great Debate: More growth ahead for Android, or is it stagnation time?

    The fact that Sprint is adding an iPhone should blunt Android growth just a little in the U.S. (but just a little... this is, after all, Sprint we're talking about here). But still, I just don't see the Android juggernaut slowing down all that much. In the past, Microsoft could leverage its dominance in the enterprise market to push Windows Mobile adoption, but more and more corporate IT departments are allowing users to choose their own Android or iOS phones for work. It remains to be seen whether consumers will choose Windows phones absent a push from IT once said phones become widely available. My suspicions are that Windows Phone will never be a major player in the phone arena. RIM is dying a slow death, gliding irreveribly into irrelevance as smart phones handle e-mail as seamlessly as the Blackberry's of old. And iOS will command a strong, but very gradually diminishing following as users warm up to the much wider range hardware options that Android presents. I can't see iOS dipping below 25% or so of the market in the next 10 years, but I don't see the platform overcoming Android either. And I predict that Android's dominance in the phone market will eventually pave the way for success in the tablet market, too... albeit at a much slower rate than originally predicted.
    dsf3g
    Reply Vote I'm for Android Growth