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Android 2 on 77% of Android Phones

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