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The 10 Most Important Names in Android (Part 1)

December 22, 2009 | by Andrew Kameka

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The 10 Most Important Names in Android (Part 1)

This article is the first in a series of two parts. Be sure to read the second half of the list to see the 10 Most Important Names in Android.

It was much easier to explain who the major players in Android were in 2008; T-Mobile and Google were the only two relevant names. However, the game has changed, and so have the players. In light of Android’s explosion, Androinica.com decided to compile a list of the 10 Most Important Names in Android. We anticipate disagreement, but it’s difficult to deny that the people and companies profiled below are noteworthy names. A few may not be the most famous, but you can bet that they rank among the most influential and interesting characters in this play called Android.

10. Dan Morrill

danmorrillDan Morrill calls himself an “Evangineer” (evangelist and engineer), and it’s safe to say that Android needs the advocacy of Morrill and any other willing friend. Android yields only a fraction of the revenue produced by iPhones, and requires additional resources to deal with updates or fragmentation (two factors that could discourage support).

Morrill combats that frustration as an Android advocate, encouraging developers to build compelling apps. His lectures, tutorials, blog posts, and outspoken support go a long way in supporting Android’s growth. No matter how slick the OS becomes or how fast the processors run, people are still going to want great apps that meet their needs. Morrill’s work to help developers improve their creations and encourage bigger names to give Android a shot makes him a vital figure in the OS’s future.

9. Qualcomm & ARM Limited

qualcommThere’s a new Android phone coming out. It’s packed with bells and whistles and you don’t know what to expect from it. Actually, there’s one thing you can expect: a Qualcomm or ARM processor will be in that new phone. Regardless of what name is branded on the face of the phone, it’s reasonable to assume that one of those two companies will be responsible for the chip in it.

Qualcomm has the Huawei Pulse, Motorola Cliq, and the HTC Dream, Eris, Hero, Magic, and Tattoo on its roster; ARM has the Motorola Droid, Samsung Galaxy, and Samsung Moment. While next-gen Android phones have special features, UI changes, and a need for fast-paced processors, count on these companies to supply the solution.

8. McGarry Bowen & Verizon

mcgarrybowen-verizonAndroid was available to consumers a year before the Motorola Droid’s debut, but no device has had as much visibility as the Droid. Credit much of that recognition to McGarry Bowen, the Chicago-based ad agency behind the Droid Does campaign. The tongue-in-cheek iDon’t ad, the stealth bombers, and relentless attack ads against “princess phones” – all were courtesy of McGarry Bowen.

McGarry Bowen’s creation and Verizon’s position as a premiere carrier helped Droid earn enough clout to be a consistent headline-grabber on leading tech websites and news columns. There have been advertisements for other Android products, but few Android phones have had as much appeal – or initial push – as Droid does. That success will lead to more Android adoption and better phones.

7. The XDA Devs (Cyanogen & Haykuro)

For the record, JesusFreke deserves tremendous credit for being a pioneer in the custom ROM community. I just wanted to make sure I said this before anyone reached for the flame button: JF should be thanked by everyone who roots his or her phone.

haykuroCyanogen and Haykuro must be recognized as two of the most noteworthy people to tweak the Android OS. Earlier this year, Haykuro became a geek household name when he was the first to port HTC’s “Rosie” (Sense) for use on a G1. It was a major story on every blog and showed off major pieces of Sense weeks before the Hero officially debuted. Haykuro brought the Magic and Hero experience early to users, and paved the way for the many Sense-based ROM’s and themes now available.

cyanogenLikewise, Cyanogen set the Android world ablaze when he started releasing elements of the Donut branch into his ROM’s. He then earned a reputation for having one of the best ROM’s, leading to his work being the first enjoyed by users of the one-click rooting method. An automatic updating and theming app, more than 50,000 active users, and a Google legal fiasco later, Cyanogen is still releasing ROM’s and considered to be one of the leading modders of the Androi6d platform.

6. Sanjay Jha (Motorola)

sanjay_jhaMotorola has a hit with the Droid/Milestone, but things weren’t always so bright for the company. A year ago, analysts suggested that Motorola was on the brinks of collapse because of the mobile division’s failures.  Sanjay Jha, who became co-CEO at Motorola after leading Qualcomm until August 2008, needed his company to produce something people would want. Thirteen months later, Jha premiered the CLIQ/DEXT and MOTOBLUR UI; Motorola was back.

As co-CEO, Jha has been the face of a company on track to rebound and spin off its mobile division. Despite its recent troubles, Motorola ranks as one of the biggest players in Android today, accounting for one third of Android smartphone web traffic. That number will likely increase under Jha’s supervision as Motorola has ditched much of its Symbian and Windows Mobile resources in favor of Android. His tenure has already included one major victory and a promising chance of another. Not bad for a company thought incapable of competing in the modern smartphone industry.