October 12, 2010 | by Andrew Kameka
The always interesting story of modern smartphones had a plot turn yesterday. As Microsoft announced a stable of new devices to launch its re-focused mobile strategy, something funny happened: columnists first compared Windows Phone 7 to Android – not the iPhone.
Since Apple shook-up the smartphone market in 2007, the iPhone has been the standard “How will X affect Y” benchmark for analysis. And while columnists have foolishly asked if Device X would be the mythical “iPhone Killer,” some have opted to wonder if Windows Phone 7 would disrupt Android’s momentum and appeal.
Wired.com was just one of many outlets to quickly bring up Android in its analysis of the Windows Phone 7 launch. A common theme was that the consistency of WinPhone, enabled by Microsoft’s stringent control over the platform, would make Android seem “chaotic.” I’ll let someone else counter or validate the merits of that argument. I’m more interested in the fact that someone is even comparing the two at all. Apple’s iPhone – and now iOS – has been the benchmark of mobile phones. We’re now about 36 hours into an era in which Android is the bellwether that indicates upcoming trends and warrants comparison. You can still count on plenty of Platform X vs. iPhone analysis, but Android is just as likely to garner the comparisons.
Android is no longer the clunky but promising operating system built by engineers competing against the big names that dominate the mobile phone market. Now, it’s the platform built by a mega-company on-track to dominate the global market. The old narrative of Google disrupting the phone industry has peaked. Now, they are an established player that is more Goliath than David. Mighty Microsoft has become the underdog, and Microsoft has brought plenty of rocks to the battle.
I’m anxious to see how much more interesting Android becomes now that it has another competitor. As I argued in a previous article, Android would not be as compelling were it not for Apple and Palm delivering products with arguably superior features. Microsoft’s reinvigorated platform could earn back some of the market share that Windows Mobile surrendered to Android, so Google has to be that much better in order to continue its colossal growth over the past two years.
Google and Android are now Kings of the Hill in the U.S. market. Now they’ll have to figure out how to resist being knocked down it.