One more thing… Android is coming!

23 October, 2010
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Like it or not, Android is coming, and coming in a big way. I’ve got no doubt that by the end of this year there will be more Android phones shipping than iPhones. Heck, there are already.

All the big-name phone makers are now on the Android bandwagon and being led down a garden path that ends in a cliff. Phones like the LG Optimus are already available free on $29/month plans, and will soon be available on the cheapest $19/month plans.

Many journalists are liking the Android invasion to the Windows 95 invasion; but there are a couple of elements that are strikingly different.

Firstly, Windows costs money and has been the driver behind much of Microsoft’s profits since Windows 95. Android, on the other hand, is given to phone makers for free. Phone makers can install it in their stock variety without any customisations or they can create their own skins and themes to customise the device.

Google will never make money from selling Android licences directly, and the plus for phone makers is they no longer have to invest money developing their own proprietary operating system.

However, like Windows, it will be increasingly hard for phone makers to differentiate themselves from other Android phone makers. There’s no long-term incentive for Android users to be loyal to any one manufacturer.

Secondly, the carriers love Android because it means that, instead of negotiating with one business (like Apple), it can negotiate with many different manufacturers and demand better terms. What do you think Apple says when Optus calls and asks for a discount? Now, what do you think HTC says to the same question?

Carriers are used to dominating their partners, and the iPhone has flipped this around. Carriers have to provide iPhones because that’s what customers demand, but they’re more expensive and don’t come with any carrier branding or crappy apps. From a consumer perspective the carrier is reduced to a dumb pipe.

By rallying behind Android as a platform, the carriers regain the upper-hand in the relationship so it’s in their best interests to push and promote Android handsets.

Unfortunately, many consumers see ads for Android handsets and naively end up buying them. Why naively? Because I think that for most users Android is a big mistake.

The Android Market Place is still lacking when compared to the App Store, and the user experience is sub-par compared to an iPhone.

It’s lucky for us, then, that for most phone plans above $49/month the iPhone is essentially free, even though the outright price of an iPhone is greater than an Android phone. That means consumers still have an honest choice.

Still, the Android threat looms on the near horizon and Android-based products are popping up everywhere. It’s not just phones anymore, either. By the end of the year expect to see Android tablets, e-readers and even TV via Google TV.

Yet I still have faith that Apple’s vision with iOS as a single unified platform won’t die as quickly as some naysayers believe.

Apple recently announced that over 100 million iOS devices have shipped, which creates some serious opportunities for developers.

Plus, the existing 225,000 apps still runs circles around Android store, not just in terms of quantity, but in quality too.

This article originally featured in the September issue of Australian Macworld magazine.


4 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Peter T. says:

    Android app developers are already complaining about needing to develop (and hence support) more than 100 versions of the OS. Compare that to Apple, which has two (iOS3 and iOS4). That is one of the biggest challenges for Android and Google.

  2. Alex says:

    Great research you have done their Peter, your most likely referring to that pie graph you saw in numerous of articles, all of them are complete crap, most of those ’100′ versions, are simply a re name of the software, or a bit or 2.2 tweaked to maybe get rid of some un needed software. The thing is, your making people believe that there is around .01, .0.2, .0.3, and so on, then htc sense .0.1, .0.121, 122. Honestly, the majority of users are all on pretty much three different versions. As a recent article posted referring to some twitter post or whatever? About developers complaining about the ’100′ versions, didnt they then turn around and state, did we ever say it was hard to develop on android? nope, no we didnt. They also stated that they had two people working on that software, yet all of the ’100′ versions could run it. Also, dont even begin to say that ios is better because it is ‘less fragmented’ in all of your fan boy-ey searchings, im sure you would of read that apple developers also have to code for different versions of ipods (ipod touchets), numerous different versions of iphones, and now the ipad? Apple devices suffer from fragmentation as much as android do, and really, if you look at it, android handles it a lot better than ios does

  3. chingy says:

    i am a loyal apple user like many others. my younger brother was not untill recent times, he purchased a htc anroid phone and nothing but problems and heart ache from it. like the say ”once you’ve had MAC you don’t go back”

  4. Peter headford says:

    I am Joe average and I need communication devices that compliment me in everyday use and having started my tech life with pc,it was a nightmare and more hours was spent in up keeping my pc than was spent actually using it,in short it made my life hell.
    And then one day the the heavens parted and I heard the words”APPLE , IT SIMPLY WORKS” and as in a trance I made my way to next byte in Glebe Sydney and bought a MacBook and guess what,Yep you got it it simply works,no defragging , no disc cleanup,no nothing,a year later it is still chugging along doing all the things that I Joe Average needs it to do .Then I bought a itouch,What a great piece of magic that is as I now have all my books on it,my partner liked it and bought one shortly after.I needed to upgrade my phone and as I was on a roll with Apple products I did not hesitate to get a iPhone ,pure unadulterated genius ,what a beauty.At this point in my life it was a blessing to be surrounded by devices that made life easier.
    AND THEN along comes the (TRUMPETS PLEASE) THE IPAD ,and I made my way to apple in Sydney and paid $1049 for the Wifi/3GS/64 g
    Model no hesitation because after reading the specs on the iPad I knew where I would keep all my magazines.I subscribe directly using the iPad and now I have magazines such as SEA KAYAKER,POPULAR MECHANICS etc etc etc and because they have been designed for the iPad they are inter reactive with videos and direct links with advertisers,and they do not get dogeared like all my normal magazines,I forgot to mention that we also purchased an iMac about a year ago and yes thank you it is doing very well.
    The joy of being average is that I now find that the iPad is capable of doing everything I need in relation to daily life.
    The question is AM I loyal to Apple and the answer is no, BUT, while they continue to make well designed and functional com devices that SIMPLY WORK then they can have my dollars.
    PS, Apple products Work out the cheaper alternative,cheers from a contented consumer

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