Android 2.2 Will Decide Google's Mobile Success: 10 Reasons Why

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.

Here's why:

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

Android 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.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...