Android, the growing force

Samsung has been carpet-bombing the market with ads all over the world about its new smartphones. They have outspent everyone, even Apple, on marketing dollars (over $400 million in 2012). During my visits to India, Germany, Czech Republic, and Turkey, I have noticed Samsung ads everywhere. Their market shares on smartphones have grown dramatically during the last two years.

Android – which began life as an independent company Rubin co-founded in 2003 – is now a massive and growing force in mobile. Sure, some might grumble about the many forks and flavours, but the software powers more than 750 million devices from scores of different hardware makers! Android accounted for 70% of global smartphone shipments in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to IDC. The overall criticism seems to be about its multiple flavours and incompatibilities. Apple’s chief marketing guy said that Samsung’s Galaxy users will use an operating system that is at least one year old. Keeping various flavours of Android in sync has been an issue.

Google has been pushing two operating systems – Chrome OS and Android, the former for laptops and tablets and the latter for smartphones. By consolidating the Android group under the Chrome division, Google is attempting to bring the two together. This is what Apple has done well with its iOS – it feels the same whether you are using the iPhone or the iPad and even some aspects of Mac laptops.

Steve Jobs was quite upset with Android and made some disparaging remarks during 2011 before his death. However, Apple has a battle as newer devices (hardware seems very much alike – a big shiny glass screen on metal with touch UI) all preferring Android as their OS. It must continue to innovate, mostly in the software domain, to attract customers as Android becomes a real threat at Apple’s fortunes.

Jnan Dash is a Director at Compassites. He is a technology visionary and executive consultant in the Silicon Valley. Jnan is a well-known expert in the software industry. Prior to joining Oracle in 1992, he spent 16 years at IBM in various positions including development of the DB2 family of products and in charge of IBM’s database architecture. Jnan is a frequent speaker at global industry forums on the future of software technology.

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