The sky’s the limit for Android
With more than 1.3 million new Android devices activated each and every day, the growth of Android shows no signs of slowing down. Hugo Barra, director of Product Management for Android, announced today that over 500 million Android devices have been activated since the operating systems initial release back in September of 2008.
Despite Apple’s early lead in the smartphone and tablet markets with the iPhone and iPad product lines, Google have managed to catch up and to a certain extent leapfrog the competition, thanks to the staggering pace of Android development. They’ve taken the operating system from a basic proof of concept to a streamlined, ultra-capable powerhouse in just a few short years.
Thanks to the open nature of Android it has been possible for many companies to build affordable, internet capable devices that almost anyone can afford to buy. It’s this flexibility and openness that has enabled Android to grow at such an astonishing pace. It’s no surprise that Google’s open approach to software has enabled Android to leapfrog iOS in terms of marketshare. iOS will never be an open platform capable of Android’s flexibility, that’s just not the way Apple does business. They develop each of their products alongside the operating system, whereas Android is designed to work as efficiently as possible with any number of hardware variations.
To many, Android is a fragmented system that can frustrate developers and consumers alike, but this fragmentation is a by-product of the relentless development of the platform. Google have had to innovate at a rapid pace, failing fast and improving even faster. This forces the competition to innovate at a similar pace which leads to better products at more affordable prices. In the long run platform fragmentation is a small price to pay for the innovation it enables.
Just look at the biggest losers in the smartphone market of late. Both Windows Phone and BlackBerry have struggled to keep up with the competition. Palm’s webOS platform collapsed entirely despite HP’s attempts to save it. webOS’s chief designer ended up at Google and subsequently spearheaded the design and development of Android 4.1: Jelly Bean. This is what happens when you don’t take the competition seriously. In the technology world it’s the smaller, faster competitors that you need to worry about. In just a few short years Apple and Google have gone from being the two smallest players in mobile technology to the biggest by huge margins.
Microsoft and RIM are now struggling to compete and are relying on their next generation of operating systems to try and recover some of their former glory. Microsoft are well on their way to recovery with the Windows Phone 8 and many critics are praising the new OS. It has a lot of potential for growth in the smartphone and tablet markets in the coming months.
RIM on the other hand, have once again delayed their BlackBerry 10 OS which is slated for release in the first quarter of 2013. Many believe this will be RIM’s last chance to recover. If BB 10 fails the company may collapse entirely. Their only option may be to license their operating system to other manufacturers in a bid stay afloat.
It’s hard to even imagine a world without iOS, Android and Windows Phone powering our modern mobile devices. I think it’s safe to say that most people who remember mobile internet access in the early half of the last decade would choose to forget it. The ‘Post-PC era’, as Steve Jobs so eloquently put it, has arrived and is here to stay.
Android is continuing to grow at a faster rate than even Google anticipated and with the platform making it’s way into TV’s, cars, and even laptop computers. Who knows how many Android devices will have been activated by this time next year. Could it reach one billion? I look forward to finding out.Tagged in: Android, apple, blackberry, google, ios, iphone, microsoft, RIM, Windows Phone 8
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