Android mobile OS has become a real and competing alternative to Blackberry, iOS and Windows Mobile, that is now powering more than 50% of all smartphones sold, its introduction came in a time when Symbian was a dead man walking,Linux based Mobile OSes were really a joke and Windows Mobile was a pathetic, awful and buggy mobile OS from Microsoft and its marketshare was falling like a rock with on poor innovation and hard time fighting RIM and Palm based mobile phones.
Enter Android, a resurgence on the mobile arena, it was supposed to be a Blackberry Killer, but a quick change of mind at Google turned Android into an more iPhone-like OS; but that time, Windows Mobile and Symbian were both already dead, bleeding users confident, it was too late, none of them could take back its respective share from a market that has been divided into a new touch-based war zone.
Android is winning, Apple can’t really compete with cheap plastic mobile devices, cheaper Android phones are cropping the market and while Apple may has a real monopoly on user interface, excellent track on minimalistic details, Android was conceived to take away those users not only from Nokia, Windows Mobile and the iPhone too, the fight is more about bringing an innovative mobile OS that match or exceed rivals features, Android has forced Microsoft former partners to rethink their strategy, some has adopted Android as an alternative mobile OS, while Nokia in the other hand, jumped ship to Microsoft newly launched Windows Phone 7, a small contender with a lot hot new features to offer.
The major problem with Android is that while it has been winning in marketshare, in application downloads, in powered smartphones, mp3 players and gaming mobile devices on the market, this fortune hasn’t translated into a real profit making opportunity as some has expected; Apple App Store is still the favorite place to launch any application, while Google Market Place is still far behind and the rampant piracy on the Android platform has made too difficult for some to profit, but worse is that the fragmentation is driving small developers crazy. Too many Android versions and carriers and partners slow response to bring the latest up-to date version on their devices are making the fragmentation gap to wide to support.
Android partners are now painting an uglier picture of the problem, some aren’t even profiting from selling mobile phones powered with Android, Motorola, LG, Acer, Sony Ericsson and others are reporting weak sales or loss in the previous quarters, only Samsung and HTC are on the black, both sell mobile devices powered by Windows Phone 7; Samsung doesn’t provide real sale numbers while HTC is warning that next quarter will be a difficult one as it can’t compete with other Android phones on the market nor with Apple’s iPhone 4S.
But Android problems are just starting, Google’s intention to buy Motorola has sparked interest on Android partners to evaluate other OSes alternatives or create their own, Samsung is investing with Intel on Tizen, a mobile OS powered by Linux, Tizen is the reincarnation of Meego, the abandoned platform that was supposed to power Nokia’s smartphones, it may has attracted HTC, Acer and Asus as possible candidates or partners, Samsung has its now Bada OS to power its feature phones. Acer and Asus both have mobile phones powered by Windows Phone 7, Sony Ericsson is only phone maker that has a single OS strategy, but Sony Ericsson is being shutting down, Sony is buying the Ericsson stake on the joint-venture and will try to ride the Android lane alone or relaunch its own mobile endeavor.
For Google, Android only represent a small portion of its incomes, but as the platform grows Android it will be Google biggest profit source, as it can collect billions from advertisement placed on free apps and Google own search engines, a big chunk of Android apps are free powered by ads, as opposed to the iOS platform where the profit is driven by massive apps sales.
It’s important to notice that 2/3 of all Google search are done on its rival platform iOS and the rest of Google mobile search business is left to Android and other mobile OS, so Android as a profit maker is still on its early days.
Android pending legal problems with Oracle, partners facing assaults by Microsoft, Apple and others, has plagued the platform and partners are not sleeping comfortably, each day a lawsuit is filed against Android and Google has only provided a solution that could end up being the end of the platform itself, buying Motorola for its patents to protect Android, but as some speculates, Motorola patents are standard, essential patents that can’t be used to shut down Apple or Microsoft, but that will only dismember the whole ecosystem when Google plays favorite with its own hardware company against its Android partners.
Android is on the losing side for almost all the Android Partners, Google strategy is not working as expected and partners are feeling the heat, what will come first, Google’s protection or rivals fist, some partners aren’t going to wait for none of them.