Android has rapidly emerged as a giant killer in the mobile world, proving capable of a task many thought impossible: taking on the iPhone, and for the most part, winning. Android’s market share has exploded year on year and it holds an almost fanatical fan-base: much like Apple’s critically acclaimed mobile phone. The two rivals have been at loggerheads for the past couple of years and to many people Android is slowly starting to get the edge over the iPhone, so lets take a look at some of the secrets to Android’s success and the path it took to get to the top.
Imitation is a form of flattery
Back in 2007, Apple announced the iPhone to critical acclaim. It was the technological announcement of the century, literally. The iPhone was the first effort by a hardware manufacturer to really provide a flawless, always on, easy to use option to stay connected online. Full touchscreen phones had never really been done before, multitouch was a bleeding edge technology and ‘pinch to zoom’ had never been heard of. The iPhone led to massive changes and its largest competitor, Android, could arguably never have existed if the iPhone hadn’t have set the path for it to follow.
It’s tough at the top
The iPhone, for all its merits, originality and ingenuity, is fighting a losing battle at the moment, with market share falling to Android phones quarter on quarter. Try as Apple may, nothing is preventing the endless onslaught of new Android phones fighting in the smartphone revolution, and there are a few simple reasons as to why Android now runs on more than half of all smartphones. Millions of devices are being activated every week and sales are showing no signs of slowing for Google’s mobile operating system. Features, customisability and partners are all key factors in Android’s success.
Whatever you can do I can do better
Ultimately, Android is at the top of the mobile computing league table because of its enormous feature set. In late 2011 the ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’ 4.0 Android version was announced, and this tailored to the demands of the day to day user like nothing seen before by Google. The notification system was more user friendly, everything performed faster, consistency between apps was tighter and Ice Cream Sandwich gave everything from office suites to to-do list apps a way to function quickly and effectively on the back of something that looks like it belonged on the starship enterprise. Android 4.0 is generally considered as the most tempting release to even the most die-hard iPhone or Blackberry user.
I’ll do it my way
Customisability is an important aspect of any computing platform, and it’s important to meet the needs of the user, the developer and the hardware manufacturer. This is something which Android has taken advantage of from its very first release, cleverly tying together all three key players in a computing platform and giving them the ability to create an experience that’s bespoke and individual to them. Users can choose their own clocks, wallpapers, even entire interfaces, while manufacturers such as HTC can build their own software extensions such as ‘Sense’ onto Android to give them the advantage over similar competitors like LG.
I’ll get by with a little help from my friends
One of the cleverest ploys by Google, and one that’s worked out probably the best in terms of Android’s success as a computing platform, is the partners that Google has gotten on-board. Rather than create a phone’s hardware from scratch, Google has played to its strengths and looked after the software only: the operating system. By doing this, Google has then licensed out Android to numerous manufacturers such as Samsung, Motorola, HTC and LG for low prices, meaning that a cooperative effort has taken place. This has then created a popular software platform shared across hundreds of different types of phones – ideal for somebody using that software to begin with and keeping people using the Android system.
Ryan Barnes is a blogger for promotional USB manufacturer, USBdesign.co.uk, and is an avid mobile software enthusiast. He also owns no fewer than three different Android devices. He blogs, reads and volunteers across the UK.