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Android is for realJay Lyman, May 14, 2010 @ 9:40 am ET
The only thing as interesting and exciting as the reports and headlines on Android topping iPhone in smartphone sales in a recent quarter was the response from Apple, which downlplayed Android’s buzz-generating gains.
First off, smartphone commentaries should start with props to Apple for showing the way, but the company continues to leave and arguably generate opportunity for more open alternatives such as Android. Apple is correct that the recent sales figures are only a snapshot of time and customers, but it is also even further off when it talks about sales of iPod and iPod Touch devices, which are not smartphones.
As for Android, even if it was helped along by Apple-like advertising campaigns and two-for-one offers, the Linux-based, Apache-licensed mobile OS has undoubtedly made the biggest strides in the modern smartphone market we’ve seen since iPhone. I recall immense skepticism when we indicated in our CAOS report Mobility Matters way back in November 2008 that the first Android phone on the market, the G1, represented an impressive first step and a sign of fast, carrier-supported development and advancement thanks in large part to open source. Regardless of how significant its device maker and carrier support, including two for one deals, Android has done better than expected in the market. It certainly marks the furthest a mobile OS based on Linux has ever gone.
Much of the debate also centers on the pros and cons of: Apple’s control, which affords it unrivaled integration, but can also repel developers and third-parties; Android fragmentation, which on one hand means a variety of devices and versions, but on the other hand means they are more loosely tied together via applications.
We also see some of the same factors and circumstances for the tablet, where Apple is again arriving first and setting the bar as it sees fit, but where Android, fresh off of its impressive entry into smartphones, is also looming. We may also see Google’s Chrome browser and OS become more important in the tablet form factor, but it appears frankly there is far more hardware and device, developer, carrier and market momentum for Android right now.
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