June 8, 2010 | by Chris Smith
Some interesting statistics were released the other day about smart phone market share that left some Android fanboys in a bit of denial. According to Nielson research, the iPhone has taken a healthy 28% of the smart phone market while Android OS, although growing, has a mere 9%. So, it appears that 1 in every 10 people that have smart phones have an Android phone as 3 out of every 10 have an iPhone.
Of course, today being Mr. Jobs’ day with the new Apple iPhone 4 being released, he had to say something about this research. He made it clear that the iPhone platform is the platform developers and users should go to because of these numbers. I say that these numbers aren’t really the important factors when deciding what mobile OS to go with as they are measures of only the present. The facts that Android is open source, on all carriers, and supports multiple device makers is what will lead this OS to success in future.
We have to look at both sides of the fence though. These characteristics of Android are great if used correctly. The problem is that open source software can become “fragmented”, carriers can give terrible support and not approve device upgrades fast enough, and device manufacturers can produce some crap product, throw Android on it, and release it to customers giving the OS a bad name. You see, these three characteristics are the most important things about Android’s success and because of that they need protection and support.
Enter Google, a company not afraid to try a new business model with the Nexus One to take back some of this control. Many have said that they have “failed” in this space as the N1 didn’t sell. The thing about this is that if a standard company “fails” at releasing a product they go belly-up and die off. Not the case with Google and Android. Because Android is open, it will live on and other more desirable products can be released (think HTC EVO). This is the power of the Android OS.
So, do numbers matter? Sure they do when you are trying to sling your new product to easily mesmerized consumers. But, what will last through the long haul is the idea that Android is open and for the taking. As long as Google can hold the reigns and steer the Android OS, maybe even with special “features and privileges” for device makers that meet certain criteria (the Google Experience), Android will be the contender and possible winner in the smart phone wars in the coming years.