When the Motorola Xoom launched earlier this year, some thought that the device could adequately compete against Apples iPad. So far, however, Apples tablet is hands down the dominant force in its market while Android devices have yet to hold their ground. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is being called the iPads best competitor, but its chances of matching Apples 25 million iPad unit sales anytime soon seem slim. In the next few years, Google must focus its efforts on improving Android tablet adoption. If it doesnt, it could be marginalized in that key market.
The Balance of Growth and Quality
Theres no debating that Androids popularity will only continue to grow in the coming years. In fact, research firm Gartner said earlier this year that in 2012, Android could be running on 49.2 percent of the 630 million smartphones expected to ship, up from the platforms 38.5 percent market share this year. However, with all that growth, Google will need to ensure that it can still deliver a level of quality that consumers expect. As Microsoft has shown, dominance in a market can be great for revenue, but OS quality can sometimes suffer. Googles challenge will be to maintain Android quality as its platform gains popularity.
According to Gartner, Apples market share this year will be just 19.4 percent, compared to Androids 38.5 percent. Next year, the iPhone makers share will drop to 18.9 percent. However, Google cannot sit back and feel that its safe from Apple. The companys iPhone is still the top smartphone in the world, and its tablet is easily besting all competitors. Apple is a threat right now to Android and Google must do everything it can in the coming years to minimize Cupertinos impact.
Safeguarding Against Microsoft-Nokia
Debate rages over the impact Microsofts deal with Nokia could have on the mobile market. However, Gartner believes that the Windows Phone platform, thanks to Nokia using it as its principal operating system, will secure 19.5 percent of the market in 2015, up from practically nothing this year. If that comes true, Microsoft and Nokia will be a bigger threat to Android than some think now and the onus will be on Google to respond.
One of the biggest issues with Android has been the fragmentation of the operating system. According to Google, about 65 percent of Android devices are running version 2.2 Froyo, while 21.2 percent are running Android 2.1 Eclair. Other versions of Android are in use right now, as well. Thats not a good thing for Google or Android. Going forward, the search giant must get more people to use one or two versions of its operating system, and get away from so many different versions being used in the Android ecosystem.
Earlier this year, Google was forced to remove applications from the Android Market after it was revealed that they were security threats. Though the security issues related to those apps werent major, it proved that Android is now a target of malicious hackers. Going forward, most analysts suspect Android will be targeted heavily and Google will need to do everything it can to make its platform secure.
Continued Application Support
Applications mean everything in the mobile market. The mobile programs help extend the functionality of smartphones and tablets, and keep people loyal to a respective operating system. Over the coming years, Apple will continue to double down on applications, which means Google will need to respond in-kind. The future is in mobile apps, and Apple knows that. Google must also realize that.
In May, Google announced a new mobile-payment service, called Google Wallet. The platform relies upon near-field communication to work. Over the next few years, Google will need to prove to vendors, retailers and payment processors that its Android-based service is best and is worth supporting. Google said that future Android devices will have NFC capabilities. But if it wants to see Google Wallet succeed, the company will need to make its case to all stakeholders.
Maintaining Strong Vendor Relationships
As noted in a previous slide, Microsoft could come on strong in the mobile market, thanks to Nokia. If the software giant can start stealing significant market share, it might be able to coax more vendors to release smartphones running its mobile software. If that happens, Googles Android platform will be negatively affected. In order to stymie Microsofts efforts in the mobile space, Google needs to start working even harder on developing strong relationships with handset makers.
Appealing to the Enterprise
So far, Android has been a hugely popular platform in the consumer space. But in the enterprise, it hasnt been able to gain any ground; devices such as the Motorola Droid Pro still cant stand up to BlackBerry smartphones. In order for Android to be a full, dominant success in the coming years, Google must make Android appeal more to enterprise users. It has no choice.