That’s not 100% but the rate at which that figure has climbed is nothing to sneeze at. Not the perfect comparison, but IE6, one of the most hated things on the Internet, something that’s caused fragmentation you really feel especially if you’re a designer or work someplace that uses some old system which requires IE6, is still hanging onto 20% of the IE share ten years after its release whereas Android 1.6 has been squeezed down to a nominal 7.9% just two years after its release.

Android 2.2 was released without too much fanfare just five months ago and has 36% of the Android pie chart. In contrast, Windows 7, retailing and stuffed onto new computers while saturating its advertisements everywhere you look for over a year, has earned less than half that of the Windows share and in more than double the time, and with a lot of pressure on companies to upgrade with XP support termination deadline threats.

Shifting gears completely to pure speculation, I believe that because of the slew of new features Google has come up with release after release (and day after day for their other services) their mobile customers, more than any other such group of other companies, thirst for the latest on the presumption that it will be fantastic relative to the previous fantastic release. Not to escape bugs or to load iTunes without being nagged to update but to tap into new things Google brewed up.

Differentiating itself from iOS for example, Google, which makes most of their money by making other people money without having to spend too much money, has been letting its mobile users eat cake before the desert course by detaching their own various proprietary Android apps (Gmail, Youtube, Maps) from OS distribution releases, carrots they don’t see much reason to dangle in front of their users’ heads until some eventual grand unveiling of the new bundle of software stapled to the core of the operating system. Carrots they don’t see much reason to dangle in front of the world of non-Android users either, even if other app markets out there reject their software from being distributed to their users claiming it somehow “mimics core functionality” to everyone’s chagrin.

And in the opposite direction, they even welcome competitors like Microsoft, stapling Android into the Apache and GNU licenses, to attempt to further improve or take advantage of Android, eventually letting the free market guide OEMs and carriers to decide which mixtures to go with. Instead of locking out developers who don’t know C or Silverlight, they roll out the red accommodation carpet with Java and now AIR runtime environments to help those trying to create a cross-platform living and their users to have more software available to them. So what if they don’t get a cut of a purchase of an AIR app Blackberry sold to someone who bought their new tablet – that’s less important in the big picture if not pictures of any size and on everyone’s desk.

Much of Google’s mobile doctrine may sound counterintuitive to someone who knows a thing or two about business, like those who go on about how none if this matters given that Android is free, yet it seems to be working out quite nicely for just about everyone except I suppose the competition.

Doug Simmons

11 COMMENTS

  1. who: I did think on that as I pushed a handful of Apple products on family and various clients that fit into what struck me as an Apple profile and I thought on that multiple times before calling my broker.

    But as time passes, Android and what has resulted from its existence fits into more and more profiles of consumers, its own success (1300% year over year) and its comparative success reflects that with each quarter. Google’s doing that with both the free beer and the free speech approach, tapping into more than one of these specific markets as you describe deeply, vigorously and simultaneously.

    That sort of thing makes me want to write about them instead of the little engine that could but hasn’t bothered to try until next week even though they had laid down some good tracks a decade ago.

    One thing that Google doesn’t have in their arsenal is the Xbox. They have Angry Birds and Paper Toss, but no Xbox. So that could be a serious gamechanger, one that might snuff me out for good.

  2. yss: So would I be way off in saying C#, the developers and volume of application of which being outnumbered by Java about three to one, is useful and used essentially only for Microsoft platforms with exception to a couple fringe projects?

    My point was people learn Java and AIR generally learn them with the intention of using them for cross-platform programming, which may have a lot to do with Java’s being the most popular programming language give or take, and that Android seized Java (and later AIR) largely because of that and because of that seizure a lot of people have benefited including consumers, developers and Google alike along with other things connected to Java.

  3. Not to sound insightful or anything but have you considered that there may be a market for people who want the benefits of closed as there is also a market for people who want open (or people who don’t know the difference but can only afford crappy hardware)?

    And then there’s another market, maybe, for people who to try the new thing made by the company that waited ten years to study everyone’s innovation and bundling it into one thing. And another market for people out there who’d rather help the Saudis fight terrorism than hang onto the privacy that attracted them to a particular company in the first place.

    One company aiming at one market and another focusing on the other, both remaining quite solvent as both markets have proven to be fertile, is a good thing, not some sort of dark side of capitalism and diluting your company’s brand into more than one of those markets may cause you to sell yourself short in each.

    Think on that.

    Ignoramuses.

  4. Microsoft locks out developers? You can get all kinds of development tools for free. If you don’t know Silverlight, you don’t know WPF. There’s no (good) reason for a C# developer not to know WPF, even if you don’t implement it.

  5. Joe: If that’s what I said, I really need to write more carefully.

    I was contending that Google earned a reputation of being uniquely prolific. When you’ve got something made by the company you associate with that characteristic, I’d say you grow more eager to jump, freely or otherwise, on the next thing they come up with not because what you already have sucks but because there’s a good chance that the next thing does everything faster and additional things you couldn’t, as in Flash and tethering or shortly SIP Google Voice possibly.

    On the other hand, back in my WinMo days, I flashed new roms nonstop even though, if I hadn’t read the changelog (which for the CE builds didn’t even exist), I generally noticed no difference. So I can see how what you said can be said about what I said. That said, having finally tried something that didn’t suck after having spent so long entrenched in suction, I can say with some authority that WM sucked and it sucked about as much since I first tried it since I left it. It sucked so much that I would be absolutely astonished to learn that Microsoft, after all this time and energy, finally unveils a product that relative to WinMo isn’t fantastic, or for that matter good without comparing it to their history — but not too many people will know that firsthand and that’s where my money is riding.

  6. How does adoption rate of one product translate to another product being closed? I guess that’s what I don’t understand. Is Java more readily available? Yes. Does that mean that Silverlight is on lockdown? No. It just means that businesses haven’t bought into Silverlight.

    In regards to cross-platform, I think it’s a matter of where you want to place your bets. If I’m already doing WPF (or WinForms), why not ride with Silverlight and WP7? One app (well, 70% maybe) on multiple platforms is appealing if the remaining 30% is easy to customize to the target environment. Remember, only 28% of the market has a smartphone based on the latest numbers. I’m guessing that the 72% includes the less tech savvy consumers who will just as likely go with a brand they are familiar with. Half a billion can quickly make your product a household name (at least that’s what MS hopes).

  7. So what you are really saying is the Android sucked so badly that people have jumped at the opportunity to leave it, while XP was so good, folks just see no need to spend any money on the upgrade.

  8. Sorry – too many typos. I will try again… :)

    So what you are really saying is that Android 1.6 sucked so badly that people have jumped at the opportunity to leave it for 2.2, while XP was so good, folks just see no need to spend any money on the upgrade to Windows 7. Oh – and how much does the upgrade to Android 2.2 cost? I wonder if that has to anything to do with the adoption rate.

  9. @Doug: I understand your point of view in Android’s gain, however, I think it is reaching to compare it to the PC industry. A mobile phone is normally tied to a contract, and when that contract is done, you go and renew the contract and get a new phone for free, or for a reasonably low upfront cost. However, with a PC, it’s a large purchase, and when the majority of people merely just use the PC for basic functionality, there isn’t a need to go and rush to buy a new PC.

    Basically my point is, a new handset isn’t going to cost the consumer (regardless of it being iPhone/Windows Phone/Android/Symbian/etc) because they’re merely just continuing their contract on, and getting a new phone.

    Now in terms of WM -> WP, yes it doesn’t have all the things WM had, but WM has been around for donks and progressed on since the PocketPC days. Unlike WP which has been a complete refresh. That and before WP development there were only 4 MS employees doing WM APIs. Now they have over 400. So wouldn’t this show that even though the current iteration doesn’t have everything, they can easily progress it at speeds that could come somewhere between Android and iPhone?

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