Android Winning Carrier, Consumer Allies

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2009-11-17

10 Reasons Why Even the iPhone Can't Stop Android's Rise

With the launch of Motorola's Droid smartphone, Google's Android operating system is officially on the mobile-platform map. It has been around for a while, of course, but until now, most people shopping for smartphones had little knowledge about its existence or the value it provides. It was, for the most part, an unknown entity.

But it certainly isn't anymore. According to most calculations, Motorola sold 250,000 Droid smartphones in the phone's first week of availability. Not only is this the most successful launch of an Android phone to date, Motorola has said it expects to sell 1 million Droid phones by the end of 2009.

That's no small feat. Although the iPhone still reigns supreme in the marketplace, Droid has ushered in a new era in the smartphone business. No longer is the iPhone the only viable touch-screen device on the market. Thanks to the help of the Droid, Google's mobile platform is now in front of a mainstream audience. It's becoming a household name. And not even the iPhone, with all its popularity and might in the mobile market, can stop it. Here's why:

1. Design matters

There's something that the Droid, the MyTouch 3G and several other Android-based devices have that so many other touch-screen devices don't: a nice design. A quick glimpse at the Droid tells you much of what you need to know about the device: It satisfies today's mobile users' requirement for a design aesthetic. It has a sleek finish, a physical keyboard for more accurate typing and a large, vibrant screen. It's a beauty. And consumers know it.

2. The law of numbers

The iPhone might lead the pack, but it's only a single device that's available via one carrier. Android is a different entity altogether. Rather than get into the hardware game, Google has decided to offer its software to vendors, so it can be found on multiple carriers and several devices. Over time, that could help Google capture more market share as Apple continues its own, single-carrier model with the iPhone.

3. Apps, anyone?

One of the major reasons why the iPhone is so successful is its applications. With over 100,000 applications in the App Store, it's leading the way in third-party software. But Google's Android platform comes in second. It may only have a fraction of the apps Apple's platform does, but the list is growing. And as more consumers start picking up Android-based devices, you can bet that mobile developers will migrate to Android with them. Expect far more apps in the Android Market sooner rather than later.

4. Touch screens galore

Although traditional phones like the BlackBerry Tour are still selling well, it's the touch-screen device that carries the day when customers look for new phones. Like the iPhone, Android-based devices have that market covered. The Droid, like several other Android devices, features a touch screen that reacts well to human touch. It's responsive, hand gestures are quite easily performed and, for the most part, the experience is better than that of many of the other touch-screen devices (although not the iPhone) on the market. That means something to customers.

Android Winning Carrier, Consumer Allies

5. Google understands the consumer

Whether or not companies like Microsoft, Research In Motion and Palm really understand the consumer is up for debate. Their smartphones haven't been able to capture the kind of market appeal that Apple's has. But Google is right there with Apple as a company that fully understands the desires of the consumer. It "gets" consumers. Nowhere is that more evident than in the design and functionality of Android. The platform is simple, but useful. It's a fine alternative to the iPhone.

6. What else is there?

Android's rise in the mobile market might have much to do with Google's strategy, but the competition also contributes. Aside from the iPhone, there simply isn't another platform that can compete on any level with Android. Palm's software is subpar. Microsoft's Windows Mobile is still an also-ran. Even RIM's touch software doesn't compare. At this point, only Apple or Google are providing viable solutions.

7. Developers aren't happy with Apple

Apple's application-approval process is abysmal. Several big developers have had their apps rejected, causing them to rail against Apple and its procedures. It has also contributed to some developers moving to other platforms, including Android, to make their software available to users. The only thing stopping those developers was the size of Android's installed base. With the success of Droid and the promise of far more Android phones to come, those issues with Apple could push many more developers to Android, making Google's platform even more compelling.

8. Open source is essential

The major difference between the iPhone and Android software is open source. Google allows vendors and third parties to modify Android as they wish to create a unique alternative to the many other Android-based devices on the market. Apple, on the other hand, offers a closed platform that only it modifies. This might seem rather inconsequential, but there are several benefits to open source, including the possibility of better security, more robust offerings from developers with fresh ideas and a faster refresh cycle. It will help Google in the future.

9. Google projects brand appeal

Everyone knows Apple. But few people know whether or not Samsung or LG can provide a viable mobile experience. They don't even know if RIM can take on Apple in the cell phone space. But Google, like Apple, is a trusted household name. By attaching its brand to Android, Google has a leg up on the competition. Consumers know which company built the software they're using. They know they can trust it. That matters.

10. The carriers want competition

Google's growth in the mobile market hasn't all been its own doing. Some of its success can be attributed to Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile. Those two carriers were snubbed by Apple and the iPhone. They needed a device to get behind to make it clear that there was an alternative to the iPhone on the market. They found that in Android phones. In the process, they are marketing Android-based devices to capitalize on the touch-screen craze. It's working. And it's helping Google soar in the mobile space.

Watch out for Android. It's quickly becoming a major force in the mobile market.

Rocket Fuel