News Analysis: Google has been successful to this point. But that doesn't mean its success will guarantee mobile dominance going forward. Android 2.2 can make or break it.
Android 2.2 is now running on 28.7 percent of all
Android-based smartphones, according to recent market estimates. About 70
percent of all Android-based devices are now running Android version 2.1 or
higher. For now, that's quite good news for Google. It means that consumers are
buying the new devices, and they're becoming more likely to want the latest
version of the company's mobile operating system.
But the pressure on Google to succeed in this critical
technology sector is only going to increase. It has gone from being a small
mobile competitor to a leader in the space. The mobile-OS market crown is now
Google's to lose. Because of that, it's becoming increasingly clear just how
important Android 2.2 really is. After all, it's the OS that Google and its
vendors are pushing; it gets most of the attention. Perhaps most important of
all: It's iOS 4's strongest competitor.
Google might be doing well now, but Android
2.2 could very well decide the company's mobile fate
1. The phones are running it
The top Android-based smartphones either run Android 2.2 or
are getting the operating system very shortly. Currently, the HTC
Droid Incredible boasts Android 2.2. So does the Motorola Droid 2. Later this
month, owners of the Motorola Droid X will get the operating system. The three
devices are arguably the most important to the future success of Android OS. If
consumers don't like the new OS on those devices, there could be trouble ahead.
2. It's the tablet OS
2.2 is perfect for tablets
. It offers far more functionality than does the
Android 1.6 version currently running in the Dell Streak. That's precisely why
so many new Android-based tablets will be running Android 2.2. But as consumers
start buying those tablets, they had better like what they find. If they don't,
and they find that Android 2.2 doesn't match up to the iPad's iOS 4 version,
Google could have some trouble becoming the dominant mobile player so many
expect it to be.
3. It's all the talk
The issue with Android 2.2 is that it's heavily hyped. Any
time people go online or go out shopping for a new Android-based mobile device
they ask whether or not the product they are interested in runs Android 2.2. It
has become so bad that any device that doesn't run Google's latest OS version
is a hobbled alternative. That kind of hype can be great when software works
well. But if the majority of the Android marketplace decides the operating
system is not right for them, that hype will come back to haunt Google.
4. iOS 4 is looking better and better
Android 2.2 is directly competing against iOS 4. The only
issue, most would agree, is whether or not Apple's iPhone alternative, which
boasts outstanding multitasking and a nice design, could be the better option.
For now, that hasn't hurt Google all that much. But if Apple can continue to
make iterative improvements to iOS, Google will need to respond with something
valuable on its own beyond Android 2.2.