Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Is Android A Threat To iPhone?

With Google's recent Android software update and Samsung and Motorola near releasing new Android handsets, should Apple be concerned?

No company can be complacent and expect their software to rule the market without any competition, there is always going to be some software company trying to take the leadership position.

Similarly Android is a threat to not only iPhone but for other mobile software's also, as it being an open source developer driver software, there are more and more features and functions being developed for it with each passing day. In fact just going through the list of applications made for android is enough to make people realize that Android has the potential to overthrow the leader in few years if not earlier.

That being said, the other companies are definitely not keeping quiet and are working towards making their product more desirable by reducing the cost for getting it (AT&T is reducing the cost of iPhone for its users) and increasing the feature list of their software

So it all depends on what Apple does to ensure that iPhone remains the top choice for users else it is just a matter of time before some other software becomes the top choice.

As far as I understand, Android has been developer focused. On the other hand iPhone has been user focused. This is evident from the fan following for the two platforms. Android has more developer fans than its users. iPhone has a huge 'user' following which is why developers are also following it.

As of today, when it comes to number of handsets in use based on a given platform, iPhone leads the way.

Android will be a threat only if it gets on to the bulk of the handsets in use. This is possible only when multiple manufacturers decide to roll out only Android handsets. We haven't seen any one announce such plans. Till that happens, there is little reason for Apple to worry. For Android, what manufacturers have committed is that they will support Android which in my opinion is little better than lip service.

Primarily, I see Android becoming a serious threat to Microsoft Windows Mobile. In particular, HTC has been using Windows Mobile in a variety of their products. Likewise, HTC has architected their own software, primarily their Touch Flo 3D, to sit on top of the Windows OS. Which seemingly devalues the whole user experience. The Touch Flo 3D software and Windows Mobile OS do not provide a cohesive user experience. I should mention that the Touch Flo 3D look-and-feel is particularly wonderful and offers a comparative experience when compared to Apple.

More recently, HTC has begun utilizing the Android OS. Perhaps to deliver that holistic user experience that’s currently missing on their existing product range. I would predict that HTC will be making this move even more to the Android platform, as the MS equivalent is a pale imitation.

As for Motorola and Samsung, well they are six of one and half a dozen of the other. It’s Nokia who is currently hell-bent on mobile world domination with their flavour of SymbianOS – another well-established operating system that fairs much better when comparing mobile operating systems.

Personally, I feel Apple will continue to dominate, as it’s a company that will never choose to become complacent, as we have witnessed over the last 20 years.

There's an adage that competition instills creativity and makes each competitor better. Competition is what drives us forward.

However, what people forget is that everyone has different reasons for why they purchase a mobile device. With all the talk about the iPhone, it's easy to forget that the #1 mobile phone manufacturer on the planet -- Nokia -- still controls more than 40% of the market worldwide. Neither Apple nor Samsung come remotely close, and Motorola is still struggling.

Apple has pursued a niche marketing strategy of doing their own thing, tightly controlling it, and doing it well. Google will have its own strategy. Nokia will no doubt have a response to this as well. I suggest that all the discussion is the wind in the sails that keeps each of this ships moving along a technology path. I stop short of suggesting that any one thing is a threat, because within any threat or adversity comes "opportunity".

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