Why Android has a reason to be paranoid

Why Android has a reason to be paranoid

Summary: September has been bad news for Android, which now has Apple's iPhone 5 and Nokia's Lumia 920 to contend with. And with the launch of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 set for October, next month is looking tougher still.


August and September have been pretty challenging months for Android; there are now two new range-topping handsets in the market that weren't there just a few weeks ago — the iPhone 5 and the Lumia 920.

Even so, October will be worse, especially when it comes to the Android on tablets. 

Has the sheen come off Android?

While Android-based handsets are selling relatively well for some manufacturers — most notably Samsung — it's no secret that Android-based tablet penetration is paltry in comparison to Apple's iPad.

Tim Cook didn't miss the opportunity to mock Android tablet makers at the launch of the iPhone 5, pointing out that the iPad has 68-percent tablet market share and accounts for 91 percent of tablet web traffic:

"I don't know what these other tablets are doing," Cook said. "They must be in warehouses or on store shelves or maybe in someone's bottom drawer."

While big name handsets such as the Galaxy S III are few and far between, thanks to the attractive licensing terms Android continues to attract a lot of low and mid-market licensees, which will likely to carry on for the foreseeable future.

But it's the high-end tablets and handsets that sell the low-to-mid range devices — people want the best but can perhaps only afford the next model or so down.

As such, in terms of smartphone handsets, the launch of the iPhone 5 and Nokia Lumia 920 has taken a lot of the limelight away from the most recent big name Android annoucements, such as the higher-end models seen at IFA, like the Sony Xperia T, or (at a stretch) the Galaxy Note II. In between there has been a host of middling device launches too — such as the HTC Desire X.

Pincer movement

Android is caught in a pincer movement — iPhone 5 and Lumia 920 on one side, Windows 8 and Microsoft Surface on the other side.

Indeed, Android's real problem will be the release of Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 operating systems next month; while manufacturers could struggle to offer Windows 8 tablet devices running at the same price point as a bargain-basement Android tablet, I expect the Microsoft devices to be more appealing in many ways.

Windows 8 will add to this challenge by providing consumers with a brand they recognise and by offering enterprises devices that are easily integrated

As Apple's Tim Cook pointed out, there certainly isn't a shortage of Android tablets on the market but people aren't really buying them. Windows 8 will add to this challenge by providing consumers with a brand they recognise and by offering enterprises devices that are easily integrated into existing systems and services. And we don't even know how Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 will work together yet.

Another way to look at it is: what does an Android tablet (or even iOS) offer that a Windows tablet can't? I'm still struggling to answer this question.

Now switch it around and consider what a Windows-based tablet (whether RT or Pro) can offer a consumer or business that an Android tablet can't. Now that's an easier question to answer.

For me Android has lost its sheen and the most exciting platforms out there are Microsoft's mobile and desktop offerings, and BlackBerry 10. That said BlackBerry 10 won't be worrying anyone (except RIM) for a while.

October is unlikely to be a make-or-break month for Android, but in a battle for consumer and enterprise buyers' hearts and minds, Google will have a fight on its hands.

Topics: Android, Google, Mobility, Smartphones, Tablets

Ben Woods

About Ben Woods

With several years' experience covering everything in the world of telecoms and mobility, Ben's your man if it involves a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other piece of tech small enough to carry around with you.

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  • Here We Go Again....

    I've seen no less than 3 "Android Is or May Be Doomed" stories this morning. I'm not gonna hold my breath....
    • "Android is doomed" is the new version of ...

      "this is (finally) the year of desktop Linux".
    • Ya, and I just read...

      About iPhone 5 being a bit of a fail because its not ground breaking, I read a number of posts about Microsoft, one guy claiming that Surface wasnt that great a looking product and may end up being one more nail in Microsofts coffin.

      There is a lovely article here on ZDNet predicting Intel is going to be into it up to their neck because ARM chips are going to take over.

      Im just waiting for the article now that will tell me how if ARM dosnt get it right soon, Intel will have new chips out that will compete directly with ARM and finish them.

      Of course there must be some article kicking around fairly current someplace on ZDNet that tells us how Linux is now going to have the jump on them all and finish the bunch of them forever.

      Im still waiting for the article that says RIM is indeed dead. The only possible company with any chance at all of being killed off and they cant even kill them yet.

      Im just going to keep saying it more and more often, the more I see these crazy "end of their world" articles, they are silly, and need way way more evidence of big trouble then the mere musings of a few prediction crazed writers.

      None of them have any credible evidence to support such pipe dreams.
  • GTFO! how many iPhone has been sold? 2 million

    in their first day right? Android sells more than 1 million everyday!
    and being paranoid bcz of MS was a joke right?!
    iPhone will sell in its first and second Q and make WP8 miserable again after that there will be just Android i'm not saying that Android would sell bad in upcoming Qs i'm just saying in Q3 no one hear anything about boring iPhone....
    • Android will be fine as long as it powers the free phones

      since that's where most of the Android numbers come from, I'm guessing as long as people still go after the free - $29 phones, Android will be fine.

      It's the higher end market where the concern will be.
      William Farrel
      • More "blog wisdom"

        'Android is only popular at the low end - anybody who wants a "real" smartphone buys Apple ( or MS, whatever your bias is).'

        Prove it.
        • It's true

          My friends buy Roids after droolin over Nokia Lumias for a month but they are still too expensive in my country (Sri Lanka) so they have no choice but to go Roid way
        • Where did he say that?

          There are a number of great high end smart phones from Android OEMs that are very popular and that is where the comparisons should be made. Doesn't change the fact that more low end Android devices are sold than high end which is all he was stating. Don't get your panties in a wad simply because he didn't blindl praise Android.
    • Phone sales number

      Come on now, you know android is not a phone...it is an operating system. There is not a single android phone that has even come close to selling 1 million in a day.
      Jay Brandon
      • One could also point out that the iPhone is a monolithic product and Android devices are varied. Do people want choice or conformity? That's the main difference between Android and iOS.

        Google could use the Android devices as a launchpad to get into the general PC market. Since Linux is open source, and Android is built from Linux, we could finally see "Linux" take over the PC market. Some big-name software developers are already creating Linux ports of their flagship products in response to Microsoft's shift toward a more restricted environment. With a big company like Google supporting the shift there's a very real chance it could happen. That doesn't mean it'll be easy to upset Apple's handheld dominance or Microsoft's desktop dominance. For now all 3 companies have their respective trump cards; it depends on how they play out their hands from this point forward.
        • The old choice talking point

          Guess what, Apple does give you a choice of smart phones. If they don't offer what you want there are other smart phones out there, the choice is between all smart phones. Yet more people choose the iPhone than any other phone.
    • GTFO! how many iPhone has been sold? 2 million

      2 Million lemmings can’t be wrong!
      • When you can't refute the facts

        All you can do is attack the users I guess. Really said.
  • wait?

    the lumia 920 is out on sale already? you said is on the market right? oh btw 1.3 million devices per day say hello!
  • Sigh

    It appears we have an influx of the Chicken Little masses once again.

    .... now where did I put the noodles?
  • This story is mostly crap

    More crap from ZDNet. Sure Samsung took a hit, maybe Windows Phone 8 will get a boost, we can only hope, as this will increase competition, but even if Android phonemakers have to pay fees to Apple, Android will survive. Not everyone wants an Apple device.
    • android

      why would Android will have to pay a fee to Apple? The OS is so differnt it is not funny. Android has featues that IOS does not like swipe. they had talk before sari, and a lot of thing. MY current Android on my samsung does not bounce back and I can not see the likeness between the two. Steve JERK OFF A$$ WIPE JOBS, said it is a priated OS, BS his is. He did not like Google so he was out to kill anything with Android. More Android devices then IOS devices. come one now
      • Apple's biz

        Apple thrived on being the only one to market with a smartphone device and later on being the only one with a practical tablet device. It wouldn't have matter who ventured in first with a decent alternative, Apple undoubtedly would have accused them of theft. The reality is, Apple's business plan to hook their customers and be able to sell them the new (mediocre) upgrade every year. (As an Apple product owner you NEED it, whether or not common sense applies.) Since Android is a viable alternative and they know it, that's when the arbitrary lawsuits begin. Apple doesn't have a contingency plan. They're not innovating. If they can't continue to add a slightly larger screen or a different cable and resell the whole bundle every year they're going to collapse.
        Robert Showalter
        • There's probably something

          We don't know whether they're innovating or not. We can't see behind the curtain. No company makes a Giant Leap For Mankind every year on a schedule. What we do know is that they spent $2.4 billion on R&D last year; that's about 16,000 fully-loaded engineers. Those people were up to something, and it wasn't changing the dock connector on the phone.

          My guess is that we will see one more Insanely Great innovation from Apple that was started under Steve Jobs. Whether we will ever see another one after that is the question. Sony went dry once charismatic-founder Akio Morita died. That could very easily be Apple's fate: it turns into another big, ponderous, hundred-billion outfit that cranks out the same sort of stuff that Sony cranks out now. It's OK, but no robot dogs.
          Robert Hahn
          • 4? 4s?

            What was so innovative about the iPhone 4, or 4s, when Jobs was still alive and kickin?