Best Argument: Android Growth
Lots of partners and quality phones
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
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
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
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.