Heard the latest news? Android phones are poised to grow 900% in 2009 gaining strong support from vendors, operators and developers, according to Strategy Analytics. Seems what Apple started with, apps based super smart (iPhone) solution, is giving way to a "beyond the walled garden" approach that breaks out of a restricted O/S and application distribution model (i.e. iTunes). We are moving toward the Android platform "encouraged" by "low-cost licensing, a semi-open source structure and Google’s support for cloud services" according to analysts Neil Mawston of Strategy Analytics.
Senior Analyst and Editor
Want proof? Look no further than the iPhone itself (an AT&T wireless exclusive device) that reportedly made 3% of the web requests over T-Mobile’s wireless network-a system not supported by iPhone. This, according to the April AdMob web tracking report, gives us a glimpse of just how many "jail break" iPhones are out there, accessing the web via non-traditional networks.
Strategy Analytics is not alone in think that Android is on the move. According to a recent EE Times Europe readers’ poll, 30% believe that Android will pass Apple as the leading smart phone, with Symbian and Linux (LiMo phones) garnering the number two slot at 21%.
The point, all is not perfect in Apple’s paradise and some services, activities and pricing are just better outside the "garden." This serves as a warning sign to Apple. Remember in the late 1980’s how the company fumbled the PC market (snatching defeat out of the hands of victory) through a policy of closed systems, expensive hardware and a desire to define / control the user experience a little too closely.
Apple also focused a lot of energy defending the "look and feel" copyright of their "visual GUI" O/S and were eventually trumped in court by Microsoft on appeal in 1994. Well it’s beginning to look like the late-1980’s all over again as Apple has warned it will vigorously defend its patent portfolio (that includes the nifty dual touch screen technology).
Meanwhile cell phone makers like HTC, Motorola, Samsung, and wireless operators T-Mobile and Vodafone are all in the Android camp looking to spectacular triple digit growth that is expected to surpass Apple, still clicking along at a forecasted 79% growth rate.
Could it be that what happened at Apple the first time was a shift from innovation focus to the business of "money making" and forgetting that wealth is created through innovation? Back then, two young entrepreneurs (Steve and Steve) innovate and create cool technology, then MBA’s (suits) take over and shift focus away from innovation. Ten years later, a somewhat adrift Apple, buys back one of the Steve’s (NeXT) and innovation is king again. The company is wildly successful, but how will it end?
In its own right, Android is a good idea for Google. It gets the company into a business-as-usual mode of click through revenue for eyeballs-now extended to the mobile domain with its +1B cell phone users as the prize. Open networks and hardware devices aside, Google probably doesn’t care much about any of this as long as it can monetize those eyeballs.
But let’s not forget the Apple vision that got us this far. The company evolved into iPhone by solving a basic digital music distribution problem. iTunes made music downloading simple, cheap and secure. The company applied a creative approach and literally made billions of dollars in the process. As long as Apple sticks to its innovation roots, demonstrating thought leadership in the field, the rest will continue to follow. - Steve Sechrist