When I read this for the first time it seemed a bit odd as it considers all phones from all manufacturers summed up as one competitor to Apple’s iPhone. Now that isn’t just silly, it’s dumb.
Apple manufactures pretty much a single model of smartphone, storage capacity differences notwithstanding. They do continue to sell at a low price the previous year’s model as an entry-level unit but, all focus is on the latest model.
This one phone, has sold over 14 million units just in the last quarter alone. Is there any other phone in the market that comes close to that? Sales of the iPhone have accelerated dramatically since the introduction of the iPhone 4 and show no sign of slowing down.
Last year, I wrote a post which touches on the reasons for the current Android growth spurt. It is quite simple in fact. Android is the only alternative for those that have no alternative. This is true in many levels.
The Phone Manufacturer’s Perspective
Let’s start by looking at phone manufacturers. There you are, merrily going along, producing myriad designs every year and pitching them against competitors that are doing pretty much the same as you. Then, comes along Apple with a revolutionary phone which is totally different from what you do and has the audacity of only producing a single model a year. What’s worse, people love it!
What do you do now? Well, you copy it. What else?! You’ve been copying one another in the phone industry right from the start, so this should be business as usual.
Damn! That didn’t work. People didn’t want to buy your phones just because they had a touch screen and icons. The problem is the software. You never really thought you would have turn your phones into computers. The comes along Google and offers to provide the software for free as long as you follow its licensing guidelines. Without another viable choice but to write an OS from scratch, you take the deal.
The Mobile Carrier’s Perspective
Now let’s look at it from the point of view of carriers. Apple has an exclusive agreement with another carrier to sell that accursed iPhone. What will we do? They are sucking up smartphone users left, right and center.
Hey these other manufacturers are introducing some phones that look like an iPhone. Let’s get behind and push to see if we can get some Android smartphone sales too. Better yet, let’s on these new smartphones and forget about old style phones al together or we will look bad compared to the carrier that sells the iPhone.
The User’s Perspecitve
Last, but certainly not least, we can look it from the user’s point of view. My carrier doesn’t carry the iPhone and I don’t want to change carriers. What can I do to get email and browsing on my phone? Oh, the carrier is offering a two for one promotion on this phone which looks just like the iPhone. Maybe I’ll get those.
Android is and has always been the choice for people and companies that don’t have the option of getting an iPhone.
A good example of just how little choice was left to phone manufacturers is Nokia’s recent partnership with Microsoft to release Windows Phone 7 smartphones. Nokia seems to have concluded that their own Symbian OS had no future and that they couldn’t wait long enough for their other OS initiative to bare fruit. I won’t go into whether or not this was a good decision now, because that is a whole other post. This should, however, be a good measure of just how desperate phone manufacturers are getting.
Why are phone manufacturers getting desperate if Android is growing fast? Because individually, they aren’t really selling that much and they are not making that much money.
The overall question about the future of Android should be whether or not manufacturers will be able to make money from phones which are based on it. The fact is that apart from a few hard-core geeks, everyone I have met that uses an Android phone, bought the phone, regardless of the OS, not because of it.
When all this is considered I find it hard to swallow this whole Android is winning over iOS story. iOS is, in fact, being used as a platform by Apple and independent developers, while Android is fulfilling the role that the simpler phone OSs used to, when regular mobile phones (not smartphones) where still being introduced in large numbers.
We will have to wait and see how things evolve in 2011, but I seriously doubt we will see Android really “winning”. Android’s market share will probably continue to grow until all manufacturers without a credible alternative have switched to it. Whether this growth will represent a win for anyone, including Google, it is still to be seen.