In competition with iPhone OS, Android is the choice for those that have no choice

Since yesterday I have seen several articles commenting on the fact that in Q1 2010 more smartphones were sold in the US with Android than with Apple’s iPhone OS.  I won’t go into the minutiae of all numbers, as I don’t think it is really relevant, but the numbers being compared are roughly 28% for Android and 21% for Apple.

This has prompted some very positive comments from those that like Android and those that don’t like Apple.  While I’m sure the fact that a large number of phones running Android were sold is a good thing for those involved with that platform, it can scarcely be considered as being in direct relationship to the sales of iPh0nes.

Why?  Well, let’s look at what happened with iPhone sales and market share from Q1’09 to Q1’10.  Apple more than doubled its sales of iPhones, selling 8.5 million phones in the quarter and saw its global market share grow to about 16%.

I think it is important to consider these numbers in relation to its competitors.  All other relevant players in the smartphone business were already in the market when Apple launched the iPhone and it where these players that either lost or were unable to gain the 16% market share that Apple now holds.

Back to the comparison in the US market.  Apple is the single manufacturer of iPhones and it’s phones are only available through AT&T.  This means that Apple managed to garner 21% market share despite not selling to customers of other carriers, thus helping AT&T to gain customers from its competitors.

In face of the quick growth of iPhone sales, Apple’s competitors seeing that nothing they had was a match for the iPhone turned to Android, gracefully provided by Google for free, as their chance to waste as little time as possible trying to catch up.

Given that Apple’s sales have continued to grow, I would say that Android hasn’t been successful in checking the advance of iPhone OS in the smartphone space, however.   Android’s 28% market share for smartphones in the US means that many manufacturers that had no other choice  have turned to that OS for their phones.  It’s not like they could turn to iPhone OS.

Moving away from the phone business, we have the music player/PDA space.  With more than 30 million iPods sold in this space there is little doubt that for now, Apple and iPhone OS are in the lead.  I don’t think that we are going to be seeing a lot of competition in this space as most companies capable and willing to create a device that could face up to the iPod Touch will probably prefer to produce smartphones, as an iPod Touch is essentially the same as an iPhone without the mobile phone components.

The next space where Android and iPhone OS are going to come into contact is going to be in tablet computers, such as the iPad.   In this space we are likely to see the same kind of scenario as in the mobile phone space.  Companies that haven’t got their own investment in creating a specific OS are going to be moving to Android as the only choice available for trying to compete with Apple.

HP’s recent move to acquire Palm and its webOS mobile platform seem to indicate that having been dependent on Microsoft for their tablet and mobile OS options didn’t work out well, as Windows 7 on Intel based hardware seemed clearly not to be up to the challenge presented by the iPad.   Having had a bad experience with Microsoft’s ability to  deliver a viable tablet OS, HP is probably little inclined to turn to Google, whose experience with operating systems is considerably less.   So, HP seems to have dropped its Windows tablet plans, but instead of being the first in the Android bandwagon they decided to spend 1.2 Billion acquiring Palm.

That still leaves a large number of computer manufacturers, such as Dell, who not having another viable choice at hand will probably decide to go with Android.

Considering that Apple hasn’t shown any inclination to licensing its OS to other manufacturers in the past I don’t think that there is much chance of it happening in the near future.  This means that unless you imagine that Apple will supply all tablet computers everywhere in the world, there are going to be several players in the market and it would seem that apart from Apple and HP, most of the others will either be running Android, or another Linux variation in their devices.

Again, Android becomes the choice for those companies with no other choice.

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11 Responses to “ “In competition with iPhone OS, Android is the choice for those that have no choice”

  1. Ishmael Shelton says:

    Sounds a lot like an Iphone commercial! We have not all been convinced that we need to carry every song we’ve ever heard around with us 24/7,nor do we all see the need for apps that may used once in a lifetime. Apple preys on the weak minded and gullible who are consumed with the need to be seen as a “player”. Steve Jobs is the greatest snake oil salesman of all times.

  2. What utter tripe. The desperation is extraordinary.

    Not only does virtually every American have the choice to migrate to AT&T (which is exactly why AT&T took the shaft to be exclusive), here in Canada and virtually the rest of the world we have complete choice. Sorry, iFan, but I choose Android, as have, obviously, many others.

  3. Mauricio Longo says:

    Oh, I agree that not everyone needs to carry around every song 24/7. I carry almost no songs with me all the time and I am sure that a great many people in the world would be fine a basic phone, instead of a smartphone. Regardless, all phones and devices I discussed here would be able to carry songs around, be them from Apple or not.

    Actually, my wife’s Nokia “dumbphone” (really, it is not a smartphone – no offense to Nokia as it is a really good regular mobile phone) is a music player too.

  4. Mauricio Longo says:

    I’m sorry, but the post wasn’t really about users not having choice, but about phone manufacturers and other carriers not having choice and having to settle for Android. Perhaps if you read the text before criticizing you will be able to correctly criticize. :-)

  5. Then you simply have no point at all. Yes, competition causes alliances and aligned interests. What is your point again? Is there any meaning at all in your statement?

    The iPhone did very well and quickly captured a sizable percentage of the smartphone market (I would argue that it’s much higher than oft quoted, as many Blackberries aren’t used in the same way at all as the iPhone/Android devices). Competitors worked together (that’s the whole open handset alliance) to stop another Windows scenario from happening. That means they “had no choice”? Completely asinine.

    And, again, virtually every Canadian telco has the iPhone. Aside from Bell the rest of them are very invested in Android. They have plenty of choice.

  6. Judd says:

    Afraid I have to agree with your detractors. The idea that carriers have no choice but to embrace Android seems like you’ve completely missed the point.

    Why would it make sense for each handset company to create their own operating system, and in doing so, propagate the walled-garden approach that is an impediment to global interoperability?

    If I was a hardware-based company that aspired to create a new smartphone, you can bet I’d be looking at existing operating systems for my new gadget. Sure, I have the choice to create my own, but why would I?

    You’ll also note that many browsers, both mobile and otherwise, use the WebKit rendering engine. Is this because they have no other choice, or because they see value in using something that already exists, so they can perhaps focus on other problems that haven’t yet been solved?

  7. Not A Fanboi says:

    I for one am glad the only “choice” for the hardware companies is Android. And I am definitely rooting against the Apple Fanboi’s Apple is worse than Microsoft in so many ways that I am rooting for Google to kick their a** in the phone wars. And the tablet wars as well. As a developer nothing irritates me more than the Iphone application store. I refuse to write for it. I don’t care what kind of market share it has, Apples policies are killing the future of open development and if we don’t take a stand against it by refusing to write for it, we have no future at all.

    So if the hardware companies have no choice but to use an OPEN SYSTEM for their OS, I say THANK THE GODS for it, and hope that it happens in larger numbers, sooner, than later.

  8. Mauricio Longo says:

    Yes, this has been a valid and winning point for Microsoft for quite some time and it is likely to earn them quite a bit of money in the future. Notice however that some, like HP for example, seem to think that Microsoft has missed the boat on mobile. They now find themselves in need of a new solution.

    HP seems to have chosen Palm. I’m certain that most mobile manufacturers will go with Android instead of Microsoft whatever. I have no problem with that. I applaud them trying to create better products and wanting to go for Apple’s throat. Competition is healthy for everyone. None of this changes the fact that given choice some companies might have preferred not being dependent on Google. As HP has demonstrated at the cost of 1.2 Billion.

  9. Mauricio Longo says:

    Hummm… Considering that Google’s own handset didn’t really sell to well, and just recently sprint canceled plans for having it on their network, I don’t think that Google got out to that good a start.

    Android, Google’s Linux derivative, seems to be well accepted by several mobile manufacturers. I am sure that most mobile users couldn’t care less about how open their phone OS is. Right now it Apple offers a better experience for end users who are not Android fan boys. :-)

  10. “Hummm… Considering that Google’s own handset didn’t really sell to well, and just recently sprint canceled plans for having it on their network, I don’t think that Google got out to that good a start.”

    Google’s handset primarily sold unsubsidized. Few can wrap their brain around a $600 cell phone (because they have illusions that phones are “only” $99 or $199 when coupled with a service lock-in). As to it being canceled on Verizon and Spring – The HTC Incredible is the Nexus One but improved even more (and Sense UI is great). The EVO 4G is even better. The Nexus One simply made no sense at all (remember that it’s an HTC phone).

    “None of this changes the fact that given choice some companies might have preferred not being dependent on Google.”

    They actually aren’t dependent on Google at all. I have no doubt at all that once Android — created by the open handset alliance — gets mature enough it will start fragmenting. Already HTC strongly individualizes it.

  11. Hari Seldon says:

    Wow, these Android fans seem to be little touchy, obviously feeling threatened.

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