Google Android Gaining as Mobile Phone Market Sleeper

News Analysis: Google's Android phone doesn't get the kind of respect it might deserve. But Android's features and performance are allowing it to sign partnerships with multiple phone manufacturers, including T-Mobile, HTC, Motorola, LG and Acer. Soon its main competitors-Apple, RIM and Windows Mobile-might need to watch out.

Google's Android platform isn't often cited when end users discuss the leaders in the mobile phone market. Typically, those discussions are dominated by companies such as Apple, Research In Motion and even Microsoft. But it's Google that's quietly gaining ground in the space.

The company is behind more phone releases running its Android operating system than you might think. Aside from the T-Mobile G1-the first Android-based phone to hit store shelves-HTC's MyTouch 3G is currently offered to consumers. HTC also announced the Tattoo Tuesday that promises some neat functionality for European users. It's the company's fourth Android-based phone.
But HTC isn't alone. Companies like Motorola, LG and even Acer have signed on to produce Android-based products. Google's partners in the Open Handset Alliance have joined at such a rapid rate that the company hopes to have up to 20 Android-based phones available by the end of 2009. It could more than double that number by the end of 2010. And yet, Android doesn't receive the kind of respect or attention Apple does. It's an afterthought when it comes time to analyze the mobile phone market.
Admittedly, that is mainly due to the fact that Android doesn't hold the kind of market share its competitors do. In fact, it's trailing far behind Apple's iPhone, RIM's BlackBerry devices and even Windows Mobile.

But it may not stay that way much longer. Unlike Apple, which has tied its future to one product, Google decided to follow in Microsoft's footsteps and open up its software to vendors. And unlike Microsoft's Windows Mobile, which provides a subpar experience, Google's Android mobile operating system is a fine alternative to the iPhone.
The Experience
In the cell phone market, providing an experience is a key success factor. If a phone doesn't have a touch-screen, doesn't sport some kind of multitouch technology and doesn't have an App Store, most users won't find as much value in it. Those are requirements that Apple has put in place, and like it or not, its competitors have to play ball.
And Google is playing ball. Its Android operating system boasts outstanding software that appeals to just about anyone who uses it. In fact, it's a nice alternative to Apple's iPhone software.

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...