Android still for mobile despite easy adoption across verticals

Android OS' open source nature makes it easy for Google and other companies to adopt it for other vertical markets but mobile arena will remain its main focus, say analysts.

Android's open source nature makes it easy for Google to diversify into other verticals and for companies to adopt the system, but the mobile market will continue to be Google's main market, analysts noted.

The Internet giant recently announced plans to interconnect home appliances with its Android@Home project, and is working with manufacturers to make products that can be controlled with Android-powered devices.

Panasonics Avionics and Thales have also announced plans to adopt the operating system (OS) for its next generation of IFEC (in-flight entertainment and connectivity) systems, according to a September 2010 report by aviation news site Flightglobal.

Despite Android's growing footprint across verticals, though, Bryan Wang, principal analyst at Forrester Research, does not think there will be any shift in Google's focus for the platform.

"Mobile devices are still the No. 1 targeted market for Google, but it is expanding and looking to dominate other OS markets where consumer and enterprises devices are expected to pick up," Wang  said in an e-mail.

Ovum's principal analyst, Adam Leach, also pointed out in a separate e-mail that Google TV, which was launched last May, is an example of the search giant's efforts to diversify its business to consumer electronics such as TVs.

Wang predicted that the industry can expect to see more of such vertical expansion from Google in the future, and said this development might present "a serious threat" to the Microsoft and Linux platforms. However, he stopped short of saying whether the increased adoption across verticals will put Android ahead of iOS, as Apple has yet to enter some of the market segments Google currently plays in.

Openness drives platform adoption
Both analysts, however, agreed that the main driving force behind Android's development outside the mobile sphere is its open source nature.

Leach explained that because it is open source, the OS allows for easy customization and adaptation, while Wang believes the ease of developing Android apps helps populate the ecosystem with content.

Both analysts noted that these are key to promoting the attractiveness of the Google platform.

Karen New, CEO of Singapore-based app development company Omnitoones, added that Android apps are also cheaper to deploy compared to those written for other OSes. The lower cost has drawn some of Omnitoones' customers to the platform over the more secure iOS ecosystem, New added.

Wang hailed the easy accessibility of the platform as a positive development as it "opens up the opportunity for developers to work with more solution providers", which then translates into revenue opportunities for their effort. This is especially important considering the majority of apps on the Android market are currently free, the Forrester analyst added.

He suggested that consumers may be more willing to pay for Android apps on TV screens and tablets, compared to smartphones.