History rhymes: Android dominates smartphones like Windows dominated PCs

History rhymes: Android dominates smartphones like Windows dominated PCs

Summary: Android's success doesn't rest with one device. Some hardware partner will cook up something to entice the masses and swarm Apple.


Google's Android market share approached 80 percent as Apple ceded share in the second quarter to wind up with 13.2 percent of the smartphone operating system market, according to IDC. In other words, Android is doing to Apple what Microsoft did in PCs decades earlier.

Now market share via IDC isn't everything---Apple makes a lot of money from the iOS and iPhone ecosystem, but it's hard to avoid noticing how tech history is beginning to rhyme.

Google with Android has created a vast partnership network as Samsung, LG, Motorola Mobility, Huawei, ZTE and others all have run with the open source operating system. In other words, Android's success doesn't rest with one device. Some hardware partner will cook up something to entice the masses.

Apple has its vast fan club, but iOS relies mostly on the iPhone's success.



In the early PC era, Windows created hardware partnerships with Intel (Wintel) and various computer makers. Microsoft became dominant and flooded the market. Years later, Microsoft struggled with integrating hardware and software, but still has commanding market share in PCs.

Apple had a big fan base, but was outgunned on market share.

The big question is whether this time in tech history is different. Does market share matter as much? Apple sells a ton of iPhones around the world, but to date has ceded the lower end of the market. Android is the land of inexpensive smartphones.

Should Apple get its low-cost iPhone rolling it can close the Android gap a bit. In fact, the mobile ecosystem may cheer for some platform to keep Android from being too dominant. Windows Phone shipments surged in the second quarter, but still represents a paltry 3.7 percent share. BlackBerry has 2.9 percent smartphone OS share.

It's hard to see Apple struggling like it did in the aftermath of the Microsoft Windows thumping, but the similarities between then and now are appearing more. However, Apple is only a product cycle away from recovering some market share. We'll know in a few years how this saga plays out.

Topics: Mobile OS, Android, Mobility, Smartphones

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  • Android is a short term phenomenon....

    With huge fragmentation and more malware than apps, android's future is bleak....40 percent of android phones are sold by cheap unknown OEMS with their own app store bloated with malware...

    If Samsung moves to some other platform, android is pretty much dead...
    • people are still running versions of windows back to 95

      doesn't seem that different to me
      • Year of Linux Baby!

        Linux dominates the cell phone market!
        • Mobile Linux

          I suppose Android is a semi close mobile OS based on Linux. iOS is a closed mobile OS based on the completely open Darwin kernel, which is based on BSD/Unix and is also the basis for Mac OS X.
          Bee Ryan
        • Re: Android is a short term phenomenon....

          What, and be tied to one stupid global monopoly again?

          In your dreams, pal...
          • Windows Phone Growth Is Pathetic ! !

            Windows Phone Growth Is Pathetic ! !

            In 1 year Windows Phone Growth was 0.6% [3.1% - 3.7%]

            In 10 years Windows Phone will grow to 9.7%

            Windows Phone will need 10 years to climb to 10% ! !

            but most probably will start declining like iOS in 2 years..

            cause people will be bored with
            DULL single color METRO TILES

            Android phones soon will take over 90% of the global market
            and Android tablets a little later will reach 90%..

            And Android's 90% will be established for at least
            the next 2 decades..


            Because Apple doesn't release iOS to Samsung HTC LG etc.

            Microsoft will never redesign Windows Phone
            to something more attractive than iOS

            And all the rest are too small so no matter what they will do
            no one will take notice because they are so small
            so they will fall

    • The big battle is between Google & Microsoft...

      iOS has lost to Android, just like the Mac lost to Windows (and for similar reasons).

      The coming battle is between Google & Microsoft because they both control monopolies that are on a crash course for each other. It's going to be interesting to see how it plays out.

      Microsoft has the advantage that Windows is so entrenched (especially with the enterprise) and that nothing can replace it (not even close)... at least not yet. In short, Windows is still indispensable to the working world... while (for now) Android is pretty disposable. If Android suddenly vanished, the world would march on because there are plenty of alternatives that can do what Android does (iPhone, WP, BlackBerry), but if all of the Windows PCs suddenly vanished... there would be complete chaos.

      Therefore, I give the edge to Microsoft... but every day their edge shrinks a tiny, tiny bit...
      • google is not a Monopoly.

        Neither is Android.

        BIG difference.
      • Microsoft? I think not.

        Microsoft is a bit player in phones and tablets. They are a Microscopic threat to Android. Even iOS is no threat to Android, due to the fact that Android is on a hundred different manufacturers' phones and iOS is on one. Microsoft has lead weights attached to its legs (fat, sluggish, power-hungry OS) so they're never going to catch up to a nimble OS like Android on tablets and phones. I doubt they'll even catch up with iOS. The battle has been over since Microsoft chose to shove their fat pseudo-Windows onto devices which never needed it.

        The only place Microsoft still dominates is on the desktop and even that dominance is vulnerable, since they crippled the desktop with a phone/tablet interface. Even Dell has been sending out a bunch of emails advertising Windows 7 PCs, in an effort to regain sales. When Microsoft stops selling Windows 7, they'll be primed for implosion.
        • You have obviously never tried a WP8 Phone


          You have obviously never tried a phone running WP8. "fat, sluggish, power-hungry OS" I think not. Sleek, elegant and stable is how WP8 runs all day.
          • And yet...

            ... the masses are ignoring WP8 anyway, just like every previous version of WP. This version might be technically better, but it's still just a bit player in a market owned by Android and iOS. Wishing otherwise doesn't alter reality.

            The OS footprint is larger. The resource consumption is higher. There is significant extra fat that isn't in other phone OSes. Imagine how much better WP would be if they trimmed all that fat.

            Feel free to ignore the discussion we are having about whether Microsoft vs Google is a big battle or whether Microsoft is a gnat on Google's posterior. Whether you or I personally like WP8 or not is quite obviously irrelevant to the rest of the world. Market share shows that you are part of a microscopic minority of smartphone users who actually purchased Windows on a phone. Believing that tiny group is a major threat to Android is laughable, at best.
          • Ignoring WP8 anyway


            I couldn't agree more fully. We could even rephrase this to compare desktop Operating Systems within Microsoft, and most of us would still reach the same conclusion:

            Windows Vista SP1 was a huge improvement over Windows Vista SP0. Everything Vista was still 2 steps backwards from Windows XP. Windows Phone is no different.

            Of course, I'm still in dismay that Windows 8 (and it's derivatives) looks so much like 1996 AOL and AOL didn't sue MS and win for a blatant clone of their failure.
          • If sleek, elegant and stable were the key to success...

            ...today we all would have had a RISC based super workstation descendant of the system created by Silicon Graphics, Apollo, Sun, HP and/or DEC in the late 80's with powerful OS's like IRIX, Domain, Solaris and HP-UX. GUIs would be based on the clean object oriented concepts set forth by NextStep and NEWS, not the crappy Win32 stuff.

            Compatibility killed all those "sleek, elegant and stable" systems.

            And now, it's killing Windows Phone and Windows RT. Windows 8, has fared no better due to it's emphasis on the Metro side.

            It's a kind of a poetic justice when you realize that Android is Linux, which is based on UNIX, and ARM is RISC with infusions for DEC's Alpha (ironically thru Intel's StrongARM) and SGI (via the GPU stuff and the OpenGL standard).

            I guess the workstation battle of the 90's wasn't really won by Windows, but was more of a truce, lingering on the side.
          • Re: The big battle is between Google & Microsoft...

            And yet nobody's buying windoze phone. Probably due to past experience.
        • I see....

          your crusade against Windows 8 continues. We get it.. you don't like it.. blah blah blah. Time to learn something new dinosaur.
          • It makes no difference whether I like it.

            The market doesn't care about it. They're the ones who count.

            I've said before, the only Windows 8 I truly dislike is desktop Windows 8. I actually think Metro makes a lot of sense on small touch screen devices. The thing I hate is that they crippled the desktop in their zeal to shoehorn Windows 8 onto everything. One size does not fit all.

            In fact, if you read what I've said previously, I've said I think they should be using WP8 as the OS on their tablets, too. It's much leaner than Windows 8. Trying to squeeze "real" Windows onto tablets was a huge mistake.
          • Okay, this comment I completely agree with.

            And my case in point to back that up with? Squeezing Windows 7 and Vista onto Netbooks. Remember that disastrous craze? Thank goodness the Chromebook was introduced to try to save the Netbook's life.
            Richard Estes
          • I see....

            And tell me kstap who other than Steve the Hairless monkey Balmer uses any Mafiasoft aka MicroKlunk Junk mobile devices?

            Oh I fogot his employees do too.

            The rest of the world siad no to Micro$haft mobile Virus traps a long time ago.

            I have never even see one in use anywhere here in Asia.
          • You don't see, tool

            Talk about dinosaur. You've been wearing windoze blinders for the last 20 years.
        • written by someone still looking for. a clue

          WP 8 is running as fluidly as any. Android phone, on half the processor power, doesn't sound like. A sluggish power hungry OS to me!