Wired casts Andy Rubin as a modern Bill Gates in The Android Explosion

Fred Vogelstein wrote an article for Wired about the Android Explosion which details the scrappy startup's rise to stardom and compares Andy Rubin to a modern-day Bill Gates.
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor on

Fred Vogelstein wrote a feature article for Wired called The Android Explosion: How Google’s Freewheeling Ecosytem Threatens the iPhone that's worth reading.

But if you're an iPhone zealot, be warned. The news may be a little hard to swallow.

Vogelstein details Android's rise to fame after being acquired by Google in 2006. After a slow start, Android's long-term plan began getting some traction in late 2010 and early 2011 when it eclipsed the iPhone in global market penetration.

According to the article the 2010 Worldwide smartphone OS landscape broke down as follows:

  1. 38% - Symbian
  2. 23% - Android
  3. 16% - iPhone

(IDC expects Android's global market share to hit 39.5% in 2011 and to explode to 45.4% in 2015.)

The funny part is that Andy Rubin, the father of Android, took a page right out of Microsoft's playbook. In fact Rubin is compared to Bill Gates in the piece:

Gates saw the PC not as a single machine to be fussed over and perfected—the way Apple did with the Macintosh and arguably does with the iPhone and iPad—but as a category of devices that needed a common software platform. Instead of writing a program for thousands of different machines, developers could write it once for Windows and have it run on every PC, no matter who built it. The potential for such wide distribution persuaded developers to spend more time writing software for Microsoft’s operating system than for Apple’s. Eventually, the winner-take-all laws of platform economics kicked in—Windows machines could run a rich selection of programs, so customers gravitated to them, which further encouraged developers to ignore other platforms.

Another anecdote explains how Verizon gave a young ad agency, McGarry Bowen, one week to come up with an ad campaign for the Droid. The company defty pitched the menacing and industrial design of the Droid as the anti-iPhone:

...in early October 2009, Verizon and its new agency presented the Droid campaign to a group of 200 Android staffers. One ad featured stealth bombers dropping phones on a farm, in the woods, and by the side of a road. Another attacked the iPhone as a “digitally clueless beauty pageant queen.” A third listed all the things the Droid could do that the iPhone couldn’t. When they were over, the room erupted in applause. The Android team had been demoralized, but “when they decided they were going to do this full-on attack on the iPhone—that we were going to war—we got really excited,” says an Android employee.

In the 80's and 90's it was Apple vs. Microsoft in the battle for the personal computer. In 2011 it's Apple vs. Google in a battle for the smartphone -- which is possibly an even more important battle as smartphones become our primary computers.

Great article. Highly recommend reading.

What were your takeaways?

Editorial standards