Android is the leading smartphone OS in the US now and it powers more than 130 million devices across the world including a phalanx of cheap handsets across Asia. Not just that, there are more than half a million devices activated everyday. That’s a good story and Android is a killer app from Google. That’s only one side of the story.
Sure there was a meteoric rise and great sales figures but today’s Android is different from Android of 2009. Android of 2009 is a cool mobile operating system which has the potential to usurp Apple and Nokia. Today’s Android is a booby trap with the potential to take as many manufacturers with it.
Android’s threats are not single fold. At the last count they are five fold. Here’s are the 5 imminent threats to Android :
Cheaper iPhone, iPad and Windows Mango
Technically Apple doesn’t need to produce a cheaper iPhone or an iPad. It got so much cash, it can stop its innovation machine, continue selling its current iPhone’s and still be a competitive company. But Apple is not known for that. It is known to kill competition and that’s exactly what it plans to do with Android. While Apple is going full throttle in its efforts to stymie Samsung (Android manufacturer) it is also planning to launch a cheaper iPhone. Something which costs $300 – $350. When that happens, no body cares about Android anymore and Android will be left to handle the sub-$300 market.
Microsoft isn’t far behind with its smartphone strategy. With Mango, it seems to have a killer mobile OS. Add to that the mobile handset manufacturing machine called Nokia and we have a machine which can ruin Android late night party.
Open operating systems
When Android was an upstart, its main ploy against iOS was Android’s openness. Ironically that is being challenged. Android is only 23% open in the Open governance index. Symbian is more open than Android. Sighting this as an opportunity, Mozilla has announced an operating system based on its Gecko. Boot to Gecko is a truly open mobile operating system which Mozilla wants to position as a Android challenger. Alibaba has unveiled its operating system Aliyun which is cloud based. There are rumors that Chinese search giant Baidu, is launching its own mobile operating system.
No open operating system can compete with Android right from the word go. But Android’s adoption was mainly based on its openness and it being free. Both the notions are now being challenged in more ways than one.
I had enough coverage on the patent trolls against Android and how Microsoft has made Android its bunny. Patent trolls are here to stay. However angry Google might get in its blog posts, it is one stark reality we can’t get away from. After all, Google is a company which was built on a patent. Apple, Microsoft and Oracle will make sure they get their due for their ‘intellectual property’. Google will continue its shopping for patents. Amidst the uncertainity, manufacturers will look for options.
High return rates for Android devices
Android device return rates are as high as 30-40%. This is the secret which came out few weeks back and manufacturers are facing this on a daily basis. Why are people returning Android devices? So much for Android’s openness, general public want a phone that works, you know like an iPhone.
Poor Android tablet adoption
When it comes to tablets there is only one name you hear often : iPad. We are now close to 2 years since iPad was launched and there is no credible competitor for iPad or iPad 2. Samsung Galaxy Tab 10 which got rave reviews is facing an uphill task to deal with Apple and the patent troll. Android tablets are dime a dozen, but a credible tablet which can compete with iPad is still a far cry.
Can Android get past these threats and still shine? We all know it wants to but will Apple and Microsoft let it?