Will Google's Android Be the Tipping Point for Smart Phones?

ABI Research analyst Kevin Burden says smart phones such as the T-Mobile G1 that are based on Google's Android operating system for mobile and wireless devices could push smart phones into standardization. Perhaps, but Apple's iPhone will continue to be a big seller even as Android, Symbian, RIM and other mobile operating systems get their share of the market. Will customers recognize a standard when they see one? I don't believe so, which makes the standardization moot unless the carriers embrace it.

ABI Research analyst Kevin Burden in a new research note said he wondered whether Google's Android mobile operating system will be the tipping point for smart phones.
Burden's question comes just days after T-Mobile said it had tripled its order for the G1 smart phone, the first device based on Android. Burden wrote:

"If Android is to become the ubiquitous mobile phone platform that Google and the Open Handset Alliance hope it will be, it will be because operators and handset OEMs recognize the value to their own business models of using standard platforms, not because wireless subscribers clamor for feature-rich phones, much less an Android-based phone."

Burden said because only 14 percent of the world's handsets are smart phones, Google needs to convince handset manufacturers to replace the operating systems that currently power the majority of mobile phones.

Click here for video of T-Mobile's launch of the G1 smart phone.

Google must also spread the notion among operators that having more phones and more subscribers using those phones based on standardized operating systems is, well, good for them.

Enderle Group analyst Rob Enderle added that carriers remain one of the big limitations because they want to retain control and haven't been that great about ensuring a good user experience.

"I don't think they will have a choice, however, because the market is moving with or without them and competitive pressure between them is forcing the change," Enderle said.

It's hard to question the analysts' points about standardization, but the G1 will still have to wow people when they get their hands on it to be this "tipping point" Burden thinks it could be.

Judging by T-Mobile's request to triple its order with G1 manufacturer HTC, the hype from T-Mobile's Sept. 23 launch of the phone is bearing powerful fruit. How people will react once they get the G1 phones Oct. 22 is another matter.