Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Android, iOS Race Heats Up plus rumors about Android 3.0 and Android 2.4

Android, the mobile OS from Google, might not be the top smartphone OS in the US, but is gaining marketshare at a rapid pace. Nielsen has revealed that Apple’s iOS has the biggest marketshare with 28.6% of the market. Android and BlackBerry are not very far away with 25.8% and 26.1% marketshare respectively. The most interesting part of the report is that in the last six months, 40% of all smartphone purchase was that of Android.
Android is growing, so is iOS, but looking at the graph indicates that Android’s growth rate is better than that of iOS. In the US, Apple’s iPhone has been a clear winner since it launched. Android came much later, but the growth it has attained is phenomenal. Throw in an open iPhone in the mix and the race will be even more interesting.
OS Graph

The first generation Android’s did not have what it required to take down the iOS. But, since the release of Froyo, the script has changed dramatically. Gingerbread, is already a hit and Honeycomb, being the Android for tablets, is destined to have many takers. But, the list doesn’t end there. Everyone predicted Honeycomb will be Android 3.0, but it will not be so. Honeycomb will be Android 2.4 and will be shown at the CES powering Motorola’s tablet. The tag, Android 3.0 is reserved for something special, something huge, that will be revealed at Goolge I/O summit. There are speculations that Android 3.0 might be an OS built by merging Android with the Chrome OS. Does Apple have what it takes to keep the lead?
(Post Script: ASUS has confirmed in a press release for CES 2011 that Honeycomb will indeed be Android 3.0)
It is not the number of iterations of Android that make it special. It is its ‘openness’. Android’s source code has been released by Google, allowing it to be taken up by the various manufactures. This ‘openness’ did not only give us a galore of smartphones, but tablets as well. A consumer can chose from various models when buying an Android phone, while Apple only has the iPhone. Here is an interesting read on the 2 faces of Android.
Samsung, HTC, LG, Sony, Dell — all have smartphones developed to run on Android. This is the global market, but India is not far behind. The Indian market is also being filled with Android devices, not just from the global leaders, but from Indian manufacturers. Intex, Micromax and Olive Telcom have already announced their Android devices. All these devices come with decent hardware at low-end prices, making Android devices available to the the common man. Similar to India, the Chinese market is also seeing lots of Android devices at low-end prices from local players.
No wonder, Google’s Andy Rubin announced that the company is seeing over 300,000 Android phones activated per day. This announcement came in early December of 2010. In August 2010, Google CEO Eric Schmidt had announced the same number at 200,000. So, with more devices coming this number would reach even higher.
The trend is shifting from buying a feature phone to a smartphone, which is a also major reason behind the Android growth. Nielsen’s report, states that 45 percent of recent buyers chose a smartphone, although it means spending on data charges in future.
The company that is losing its foothold in all of this is RIM. It does have a marketshare in the US which is higher than that of Android’s but it’s graph is travelling in an opposite direction. It wouldn’t be surprising if Nielsen’s next report shows BlackBerry below Android. When we consider the purchase of BlackBerry smartphone’s in the last six moths, it is evident that Android would overtake it in the near future.
Prior to 2007, there were the feature phones and the BlackBerry smartphones. Then came Apple’s iPhone, which changed the world. After that came the Android, which is trying to change the world again.

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