Is Google’s Android The Next Big Thing?

By now you’ve probably heard of Google Android even if you aren’t some alpha geek. Have you sat down and thought much about it? It’s just a minor player, isn’t it? How can it compete with the iPhone, with the Symbian-based phones (Nokia) of the world, with Palm (especially with the release of the Palm Pre and Palm Pixie), with the Windows Mobile phones, Linux, and so forth? Despite a very slow start (one phone on one carrier, the G-1 on T-Mobile), Google’s Android is about to gain some big chunks of market share in the upcoming months. Let’s look at a few reasons why.

  1. Multiple phones on multiple carriers – Plain and simple, having more options for consumers makes it easier for Android to grab market share. Apple’s iPhone certainly made a splash but it is just one OS on one carrier. Imagine the market share the iPhone’s OS would have it was also available on Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile. Same goes for the Palm Pre. As great as the phone is, some people still aren’t willing to break their contracts with AT&T or Verizon simply to get the Pre. However, with Android-based phones being made on by multiple manufacturers and available on all the major networks, everyone will have an opportunity to buy one without switching.
  2. Application availability – This has been Apple’s strength, and Palm’s weakness, in the smartphone market. People LOVE their apps. The phone isn’t just a phone anymore. It’s a mobile device, capable of surfing the net, locating a restaurant, tuning your guitar, keeping you entertained at the airport, translating a phrase to Spanish, giving you the recipe for a Surfer on Acid, ordering coffee, checking your bank account, and so forth. Comparing hardware and the base OS, the Palm Pre beats the iPhone in a number of categories and is rather close in others. However, it’s the iPhone’s bevy of app choices that gives it a hands-down clear victory over other smartphones compelling reasons to buy one over the other. There are already a whole slew of apps available for the Android and it’s app catalog will only grow larger.
  3. App development – Many mobile app developers would rather develop on Android’s open source platform than deal with iPhone development rules, with the headaches that Blackberry development poses, and so forth. Having people WANT to develop apps on one platform over another certainly helps the cause.
  4. Google backing – Google is loaded, no doubt about it. When they want something, they throw their genius at it and if that’s not enough then they dig into their enormous war chest to get the desired results.

Ultimately it’s up to the consumer to buy Android-based phones which will obviously determine the market share that it gains. Will it be big enough to overtake the iPhone? Not anytime soon. However, there are many compelling reasons for consumers to want an Android phone, from not leaving their current network to seeing what the next new thing is. Only time will tell, but given Google’s track record with new projects and the reasons given above, it’s simply just a matter of time.


  1. As a developer, I have an problem with your #3 reason. I want to develop for the iPhone because it has a large customer base. I’d much rather spend sleepless nights debugging tricky code on the iPhone than spending sleepless nights wondering how I can market my app to a tiny Android user base.

  2. You do present a good case Mr. Egg for creating apps on the iPhone rather than for Android. Something I thought about but may not have said was that Android’s app selection is already larger than the Palm Pre’s so you could use that same argument in favor of Android over the Pre. Also, one train of thought would be that developers may think the iPhone market is already saturated and that there is no room for any cool new apps (however, I disagree with that notion…if you’ve got a good app, you’ve got a good app).

  3. The biggest plus on Android’s side is, undoubtedly, #1. AT&T as the only option is suffocating to people who want choices. And just looking at the number of apps for the iPhone, those of us who have an iPhone want choices.

    What little I’ve seen of Android’s marketing is pretty bad. There is this huge billboard on my commute that says, “In a world full of doesn’t, Droid does.” Blah. I don’t think it is sexy enough, in fact, the marketing is violent rather than sexy. The iPhone is sexy, but Apple needs to remind us how sexy the iPhone is.

    In looking at Google’s marketing effort, I would say their target demo is computer literate people who play MMORPGs (hence the violent ads) and want to write their own apps (Droid does). That’s a small, but not insubstantial market.

    Apple has sort of left that demo out as they have gone mainstream with the iPhone, and their return to marketing the nano with video is a strange move.

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