The biggest problems Android has to face

by: Simon HillSeptember 28, 2014
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Few would have predicted the meteoric rise of the Android platform. If you cast your mind back to 2008 Google looked to be suffering from the economic crash just as badly as the next company. The first Android smartphone, the HTC Dream (T-Mobile G1), was fairly well received, but widely written off as “no iPhone killer”. Many people were denigrating Chrome because it took four months to secure 1% of the browser market. Google’s share price took a hit and didn’t start picking up again until the beginning of 2009.

Fast forward five years and according to the latest research from IDC Android claimed an 84.7% global market share in the second quarter of 2014. Chrome has around a 45% share, in case you’re wondering. Google looks stronger and richer than ever, but the future for Android isn’t entirely bright.

How profitable is the Android scene?

Global Smartphone Data

No OEM has benefited more from the rise of Android than Samsung, but there are signs that its dominance is under threat. Looking at the Q2 2014 earnings report we can see that the mobile division’s profit is declining. It’s hardly panic stations, Samsung still made more than $6 billion profit and the bulk of it came from the sale of smartphones, but the mobile division profit is falling faster and it’s a big drop of almost 30% compared to the same quarter last year.

HTC was the early star of the Android pack, but it has had a rough couple of years. The HTC One line has returned the company to profitability, it made $75 million profit last quarter, but sales are still falling.

Sony has been fighting to get back into the mobile space with the premium Xperia Z line and an accelerated six month update schedule, but its mobile division made a loss of $27 million last quarter.

lg g pro 2 second batch aa-20140312-072-3

LG looks like one of the few familiar OEMs going the other way, with a profit of $83.4 million in the mobile division for the second quarter, the first profit in a while, but more importantly based on a 16% bump in sales.

It’s still early days for Nokia’s old phone hardware division, now part of Microsoft, but the company did report sales of 5.8 million phones in the partial quarter since it took over, which looks like it might be a modest increase over the same quarter last year. That’s very much based on the budget and mid-range end of the market, though.

It’s a new dawn

All of the major smartphone players are facing the same threats. We’ve looked at how commoditization is driving prices down and OEMs are left with a choice between low prices and brand power if they want to stand out and compete. The vast majority of the growth in smartphones is in developing markets. China and India are by far the biggest.

The Chinese question

China Polit bureau Communist
ABCNews

Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we’re seeing so many Chinese manufacturers coming into play. Lenovo has acquired Motorola after a dive into the budget end of the market under Google saw it start to turn things around. Xiaomi claimed the top spot in Chinese smartphone shipments last quarter with a 14% share. ZTE, Huawei, Alcatel, and even newcomers like Oppo and OnePlus are significantly undercutting the competition.

The big question is how profitable are these Chinese companies? It can be a little difficult to tell because they don’t always break down by division or report on profits. We know that worldwide shipments of smartphones for Huawei and Lenovo are rising fast, placing them third and fourth on the chart for Q2 2014. Alcatel shipped a record number of handsets in Q2 2014 claiming almost 40% growth and a 4% share of the global market. ZTE made more than $100 million profit last quarter, but we don’t know how much of that can be attributed to smartphone sales.

Xiaomi is selling a huge number of handsets and it claimed $5.31 billion revenue in the first half of 2014, but it is keeping quiet on the subject of profits. Some people are speculating that margins are very tight and maybe Xiaomi isn’t turning much of a profit at all. It’s not clear if Oppo or OnePlus are making any real cash either.

Share by Brand

One company we know isn’t making cash in China is Google. It refused to continue censoring search engine results after a Chinese hacking attack and that led to a lengthy dispute that has seen some Google services banned in mainland China. Android may be the dominant platform, but Google doesn’t provide search on those phones or sell content on them like it does in much of the rest of the world.

Never again

Android One 001621

Google doesn’t want to be cut out of another market the way it was in China and that’s what the Android One program is really all about. Indian OEMs like Micromax, Karbonn, and Lava claim a huge share of the market in India. Now Google is starting to drive sales of Android One handsets through partnerships with these OEMs because it wants to make sure that they carry Google services. The Android One program also allows it to reduce fragmentation.

Are interests diverging?

iphone 6 plus vs samsung galaxy note 3 quick look aa (14 of 20)

There’s always been a weird dichotomy at the heart of Android. Google and the OEMs don’t really want the same thing. OEMs want to sell handsets and make as much profit as possible from the hardware. Google just wants its services on as many devices as possible because it is geared up to make money from advertising. Google can only retain its position at the top of the search tree by continuing to suck in big data from us to gain insights that everyone else desperately wants.

As Internet usage is rapidly becoming all about mobile devices, Android was a very clever way for Google to maintain its dominance. Instead of having to pay a company like Apple a huge sum of money in order to be the default search provider, it gave OEMs a platform to use. It actually presented them with the same proposition that it presents us – you can have this great, free software, but you have to use our services and let us collect information from you.

Google has walked a tightrope in terms of pushing hardware prices down, with the Nexus line and Motorola, without alienating the OEMs. We’ve wondered about Samsung jumping ship before, but it can’t match Google in terms of services, and even with the decline in profits it is still making money.

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There may come a time when the OEMs realize their interests are diverging and Android can’t deliver what they need anymore, just as there may come a time when people prize privacy over the quality of Google’s services.

Maybe it’s simply too late for OEMs like HTC, LG, and Sony to break away from Android. Dabbling with Windows Phone has highlighted the lack of a back door. Their mobile fates are tied to the Android platform, so how strong is their bargaining position with Google now? But the OEMs in China and India could throw a giant spanner in the works. They can undercut on hardware and they don’t necessarily need Google’s involvement in the software space.

Android won’t be toppled by another OS anytime soon, but the fight for control of the platform is set to rage on. Google has to continue to be smart and inventive, it has to continue to add real value for end users, and it had better keep looking over its shoulder.

  • Chris

    People like to run around demanding that Google make everything stock. But to me that seems like an apple move.

    With Googles recent changes of making it mandatory to add 20 apps to the gone screen may be good, people still wont use all 20, and they still still customize their home screen.

    It sucks that google only allows us to “disable” apps and not fully Uninstall it and clear up space.

    • i quite agree, people are drinking the Google Kool-aid with smiles on their faces. I barely use any of the Google apps and would welcome the opportunity to delete them without rooting. I think Android bare without some of the OEM customization is boring. Samsung introduced immersion mode before Kitkat and also Knox which Google is also gearing up to introduce.

      • Chris

        The only stock google apps I use are

        Gmail
        Maps
        Hangouts (for text Messenging)
        Sometimes music (though it’s mostly been replaced by slacker and Spotify)
        Sometimes newsstand. (again, mostly replaced by others)

        I don’t use Google plus or most others.

        I’m a huge fan of HTC sense. Stock just doesn’t interest me. Even on my HTC one m8 and past htc devices I’ve installed diferent launchers but always found my way back to sense. Sense 6 is close to stock whole still being diferent and removing all of that will make android like apple.

        • Rowe_delin

          The apps that I use are G+, Maps, Keep, YouTube, Calendar, Clock, Hangouts, Navigation, Camera(Photosphere), photos, Chromecast, Chrome, Voice, Playstore, Play Kiosko, Books, Music. Everything else is bloat.

          • n900mixalot

            So everything YOU don’t use is “bloat” … stated like a selfish Nexus brat.

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          • i do believe that any app that i don’t use or don’t want to keep but can’t delete off my phone is bloatware

          • n900mixalot

            So … because you say it’s bloat, it shouldn’t be available to people who DO actually use it?

          • So … because you say it’s bloat, it shouldn’t be available to people who DO actually use it?

            Come on bruv, replace the i with you, and you would get it. I believe that we should be able to choose which apps we want to have permanently installed on their devices. Since i paid for the device i should be able to delete the less useful apps from my device and have the space formerly occupied by these apps available for other things. As a matter of fact any app that isn’t integral to the OS should be made deletable.

          • n900mixalot

            That’s okay to believe, but the truth is and as you probably know, we don’t pay for Android except for with our data and our willingness to be guinea pigs. Apps generate data, which Google uses for its business, and that’s why Google is requiring the addition of 20 or so apps to be added to ALL Android-partner devices in the near future. It’s also why so many of their apps have gone away from AOSP and into proprietary, with Google Play Services paving the way. No Google Play Services, no working Google apps, and they mean the GOOD ones.

            We take Android as it is, Google’s required apps and all, or we root and install roms.

            Anyway, finding a happy medium is something that Google, manufacturers, and carriers have all been trying to figure out. But they will never agree to make everything removable. You’ll have to do that yourself.

            Google is a business. LG/Samsung/HTC are all businesses. T-Mobile/Verizon/3UK/Orange, all businesses. What makes them more money is what’s going to happen.

            For now, we root and as long as we can root, we’ll be okay. But as soon as rooting messes w/ they MUNNY, we can kiss that goodbye.

          • Chris

            I forgot Chrome and you tube

          • Michael Samsara

            I think you are right. There are certain apps that just never seem to go away when you force them to close; they won’t stay dead – but like zombies come back again and again – yet I NEVER use them and all they end up doing is using up resources needlessly based on the hope of the “geniuses” who put them there – to be read craven hearted, money grubbing, bean counters – who think that if they just keep inflicting them on me I will eventually use them. Ain’t gonna happen.

            One of – among the multitudinous reasons – I wouldn’t even accept a free iPhone or Apple product (since doing so would infect the world with one more that is “out there”) – is that they feel that even though someone buys and pays for their overpriced device they still essentially own the right to make you do what they decide they want you to do.

            Perhaps one fine day, in the middle of the night some OEM will wake up and realize that the point of existence on earth – and our responsibility as to ourselves and our fellow human beings – is to help not hinder; open up rather than close down possibilities and by doing so enable each of us to seek and hopefully realize our inherent potential as easily and efficaciously as possible.

            Needless to say, I am not going to hold my breath waiting.

            Excellent article Simon – as always.

    • etienne.jean.theron

      I think what should happen is this:
      All Android phones should be shipped with stock Android, and that extra applications such as Knox must be added the way normal apps are added (with elevated privileges). A custom launcher can be pre loaded and selected within the settings menu or uninstalled. All UI changes must be managed by a built in theme engine such as the Cyanogenmod theme engine. That way there is no fragmentation, OS updates are instantly available as pure Android, there is no lag no matter what OEM you use and great OEM apps can easily be ported and shared. So instead of working against one another the OEMs will be working together even if they push their own software bettering the platform as a whole.

      • smokebomb

        Knox is a pain in the ass. It kept alerting over nothing so I just turned the notifications off.

        • etienne.jean.theron

          Okay, but that is not the point. It was just an example of a OEM system app. I think that it(and other OEM softwares, such as the camera apps etc) should become standalone apps which can be installed via play store, thus making more profits if people don’t want to (or can’t) make the jump to the latest phone or only likes a specific feature. Both users and OEMs benifit.

      • Chris

        Updates are not much of an issue any more. As I said above if stock is sooooooo important then root the device or buy a nexus… Android isn’t just for nerds anymore.

        People need to know that sense of TouchWiz are not just skins. It’s custom android version.

        Do you really want google to be like apple?

        • Karly Johnston

          People don’t want to void their warranty just to root, especially when they have no idea what to do or desire to learn. Updates are important and a major failing of Android OEMs. Stock is important and if it is soooo important for YOU to have custom ROMs then you root your own device.

          • Chris

            Updates are getting a lot better. Most people are fine with what ever comes on their phones so it’s not that they don’t know what to do as if thats the case then they are not in to rooting or spending hours on end on Android blogs.

            . It’s people like you who want google to make everything stock . this isn’t apple. It’s good. Android isn’t like it was five years ago. Everyone uses it now

          • CPA01

            It’s more likely people simply don’t know what else is out there.

            I’ve shown my Nexus 5 to my Apple friends and they’re like “**** you can do that?” Or “Wow, that’s just so much faster than what I have to do.” Same goes for people I know on Touchwiz. They just don’t know.

            Stock Android gives you an empty canvas and lets you make it your own without bloatware. Some people like the hand holding that comes with Touchwiz and iOS, but they also pay a price in performance, well, at least for Touchwiz. GPE S4 outperforms Touchwiz S4 because of Touchwiz.

        • etienne.jean.theron

          It kinda feels like it is to me. It’s a major flaw at the moment in Android. Only flagships get updates these days and other lower end devices aren’t even guaranteed of one update during their lifetime. It is not stock that is important to me, it is OS fragmentation, quick reliable updates, stability, features, and unified custamization ability with little device compatibility issues that I find important. And I have rooted my device to get stock (CM11) but are plagued with random reboots, dropped calls, no wifi-direct, no response from my built in gps and poor camera quality. And it was a painful journey to get special functions such as the IR blaster to work. But still it is startlingly better than what was pre-loaded on my phone.

          I agree, people need to know it is an OS on its own based off AOSP code but have very little in common with it (Just think, AOSP is 174MB, Touchwiz is about 2GB).

          And yes, google does need to be more like Apple. Not the restricting, overpriced, single mindedness of them, but rather the service quality and platform stabilization. At least with Android L android would have catched up to the responsiveness that has long since been Apple’s trademark. They aren’t all bad, they just compromise a lot to get the overall experience they’re selling.

        • CPA01

          How is shipping a bloat ware free version of an OS bad?

          It’s not like you can’t install your own launcher, set your own default programs, and basically make the phone how you want. Removing those would be like Apple where it’s their way or the highway.

          Starting with Stock Android is kind of like starting with a fresh install of Windows. It’s clean, comes with the bare essentials and then lets you do whatever you want to it. There are rainmeter custom themes that will makes a Windows Desktop look absolutely nothing like how it first looks post first install.

          I don’t see how going stock Android is being like Apple at all. It’s more like going DYI Windows which IMO for those who know what they’re doing is the best path.

      • I’m afraid it’s not that simple. A lot of factors come in, like: Proprietary driver support for new release, custom apps support and what not. In the end the update would again take the same amount of time. I’m just glad that there is a Nexus program and that OEMs are releasing a version with Stock Android for at least their major flagship device for that year.

        ————————————————————————————————————–
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        • etienne.jean.theron

          I know it is not simple. Yes, there would have to be a custom kernel, and it would take time to develope. There would probably also need to be some sort of real time memory modifyer such as Xposed or Cydia substrate to add missing classes should they be needed for hardware to work. And as you say they would probably take their time to develope the specific apps before they release it even if the base works. But if it all runs ons stock you can update a lot sooner via 3rd party support such as Cyanogenmod which can then easily be ported and updated regularly. And bugs would probably go extinct if every manufacturer uses a stock base.

      • roberto

        100% agree!!! This exactly the way android should be treated. Even if I don’t buy a Samsung phone I might like to install a samsung app. I would even pay for those apps.
        And Google please unify the settings app like in custom roms!

    • MWisBest

      In regards to that last point… you can’t simply clear up space by uninstalling a system app. The system partition is separate from the partition your data and the apps that you yourself install is on. Removing a system app doesn’t give you any more space to install other apps or store more data.

      • duplissi

        Good point, You actually don’t have access to the system partition unless rooted, and any apps installed or removed from there have no impact on your overall storage.

    • ebinrock

      It sucks even more that users would have to go through that effort at all (to uninstall), when the OEM’s and carriers really ought to leave the phones well enough alone. Start with a virgin OS on all phones, and users can always download from Google Play anything they want.

  • Phanikrishna Anumalla

    Loved reading it..Nice article.
    One thing I can be absolutely sure of is if the Chinese OEMs like OnePlus, Xiaomi, ZTE continue providing the same kind of handsets at a steal price while sticking to what android wants to provide we can see the downfall of many companies if they don’t bend to the change. The age where a flagship costs less than $500 will no longer be a dream.
    But Xiaomi and OP have their own negatives..One doesn’t obey GPL while other is still striving to meet the demand.

    • Simon Hill

      Thanks. The race to the bottom on price is definitely shaking things up, it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

  • Evris K

    I have a dream. That one day OEMs will stop shipping their phones full of their own crap bloatware apps and embrace pure Android with Google services and focus on making better hardware (better batteries and screens and overall build quality). They can put few of their own apps (like camera and very few other app) and maintain their phones better with often and fast Android updates thus eliminate the fragmentation. Just what Motorola did and what Android One OEMs did. Then we can get our smooth android experience without the lags and stutters caused by the crappy OEM make overs. (Touchwiz cough cough). But no they prefer filling the phones with crap launchers and gimmicky features slowing down the phone. This is what iPhone users like about their phones. Simplicity and smoothness. This is what you can also get from a pure vanilla android phone. And you can customize it later by your own if you want. Android One, Nexus and Motorola’s Motos are the successful example on how a true lag free and simple for user Android phone should be. Oh ofc the fast updates. L is around the corner and only those will get it fast. The rest If they will ever get it ofc must wait for their OEM to customize and optimize all the bloatware for some months before they get the new Android version IF they ever get it.

    • namesib

      So TouchWiz has bloatware but stock Android doesn’t? Or are all those non-removable apps they add essential to the OS and used by everyone?

      So much hypocrisy.

      • MasterMuffin

        Exactly. Anything not in AOSP is bloat to someone

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      • Chris

        Even stock android has some bloat. I for one find google Plus bloat. I have no interest in that social network.

        • Kevin Kuo

          Google+ and other Google apps isn’t part of stock Android.

        • smokebomb

          I only use G+ for auto upload since the space is free.

      • Dennis Fluttershy

        Lollipop on Nexus 5 – choose what Google apps to install.

    • James

      And you are a idiot. Most of the innovation in Android has come from OEM skins. That Google has stolen and put in Android.

      • Chris

        Mostly because Google finnaly opened their eyes and saw that their impelation sucked.

      • Alicemad

        He/she is idiot because he is expressing his own personal opinion that you happen to disagree with? Yeah right I see who’s smart enough to call names.
        My opinion is OEM should reduce their bloat apps now that Google forces them to implement all the Googly apps and focus more on upgrading their phones to the newer versions of Android. Motorola did this right and they had profit.
        I really wanna see all of you waiting for half a year to get android L if you ever get it ofc.
        That’s cool eh? Isn’t it?

        • Justin Merithew

          Reports have been indicating that Samsung, Motorola, and HTC will be rushing to get L out as fast as possible. I haven’t seen anything about LG yet though.

        • n900mixalot

          Most of us won’t give a sh** because the Android that manufacturers have now is more stable than L will be for at least the next year anyway.

          4.4.4 isn’t even stable and now Google is on to L. Google haven’t a clue how to FINISH something. Get it stable then move on don’t effing keep releasing updates that break stuff and then scrap the whole project.

          • Chris

            Google has a hard time making up their mind and sticking with something.

          • GR

            Yes! This.

          • ccc

            “Get it stable then move on don’t effing keep releasing updates that break stuff”
            like ios 8? :D

          • n900mixalot

            Apple fixed it in a single day. Google still hasn’t fixed the major battery drain and Bluetooth connectivity issues in KitKat. It has been up to the hard work of developers at every turn to fix what Google (and also OEMs like HTC and LG and Samsung) refuses to perfect. I don’t blame OEMs though. They just keep getting undercut by Google’s incessant updates.

            Android is great but would really benefit from streamlining that Google just isn’t committed to, like Apple and Microsoft are able to do. Part of it has to do with Android working on so many different devices. They will never be able to optimize it like iOS and Windows Phone since Google is trying to be the open source hero and let everyone do whatever they want. It isn’t a bad idea but the implementation is practically impossible.

          • GR

            True

          • jay

            too smart to be here.

          • BD1971

            Apple didn’t fix anything in a day. It’s been over a week and a half and the latest update is still full of crashes. Know what your talking about before you make comments. You make yourself look silly.

        • Lolo

          Is this how gamergate stared? Flew under the radar too…

      • Joe J

        James exactly! All these die hard stock android fans remind me apple fans. They have no idea that they are asking to be controlled more and ALMOST all the great new features on android were taken from OEM designs

        • GR

          They have idea and that’s why they like it

      • cee

        Actually, all of the roid ‘innovations’ are from the App Store, iOS jailbreak community or directly from Apple.

    • James

      HTC Sense never lags. And the apps and featuess they have such as Blinkfeed. Motion launch are great. Sense beats stock (which doesn’t even exist on Nexus phones anymore) any day of the week

      • s2weden2000

        It lags and so does the aijphoney.. get real …

        • Chris

          As an owner of the m8 I have to disagree. Maybe on htc phones from 2011 or on sense 3.5 phones but sense 6 is the best yet. Closer to stock too

          • n900mixalot

            This is going to piss people off but the same goes for TouchWiz. It is better now than it was a year ago. Sense and TouchWiz and LG’s skins all have been optimized in ways that make them completely different from last year.

        • James

          You clearly haven’t ever used HTC Sense. Zero lag. Try again.

          • s2weden2000

            I am a nexus and a oppo user..i have tried m8 and there is lag it depends how you use it..even the aijphoney has lag even though aijphoney users don’t admit it…

          • Chris

            You’re using it wrong

        • BD1971

          Sorry. Got an HTC M8. There is no lag.

          • s2weden2000

            no need to be sorry..even my nexus lags.. i am not bashing anything..it´s just a fact..even the aijphoney lags …

      • Chris

        I’ve been a huge fan of HTC sense since the original EVO in 2010. Sense 6 is the best yet

    • Android Developer

      Problem is that too long support is also against the manufacturers interests.
      You have to find a solution that will benefit them too in terms of money.

    • Chris

      So make android like apple? No thanks

      • jay

        then they should make a flip phone. or maybe they should have released the original android phones that copied blackberry.

    • n900mixalot

      If L is anything like 4.4.4 or 4.4.3 then Google can keep that battery sucking, intermittent bluetooth signal dropping, bloated garbage to themselves. I can’t wait for something new and feel trapped with Android … can’t wait for something different.

      • Chris

        Android rebuilt from the ground up?

        • n900mixalot

          If you think L is Android rebuilt from the ground up I can only wish you the best of luck. It is still a hot steaming incoherent mess and when manufacturers build their devices with different processors, screen sizes and hardware it’s not going to be a fun party to be at.

          Don’t get me wrong I love what Android has done for mobile but I’m ready to get on the prefab, everyone is on the same page, train. It certainly isn’t going to be on an iPhone, but since there isn’t anything out there like that yet I’m sticking to what works for now.

          • Chris

            I never said it was gonna be rebuilt from the ground up

          • Alan

            Maybe it is time for ground up for android idiots like me! So we don’t need to root for freedom. In gingerbread It went funky & jellybean bricked, now kit kat I would not dare, but make the custom features accessible.

      • Foosa Noble

        You feel trapped with android? Jesus buddy you really don’t know the freedom you have in android compared to iOS or windows….

        • jay

          you feel free? Jesus buddy if you like being spied on and your every move traced you really don’t know the freedom of windows and iOS.

    • Fer

      If you want all that, you’ll never find it using Android

    • jay

      don’t like it? dump android.

  • loop6719

    All good points (@chris, @martens and @Evris). I do think that google is ‘forcing’ us to use certain elements of their ecosystem. I would like the ability to choose my search platform and or delete apps I do not use. It kind of reminds me of MS ‘forcing’ PC owners to use explorer, and where did that get them. Android was designed with the intent to be an open handset alliance, it was not until google bought them out (Rubin,sears,miner) that it began to take a different path. Although I cannot speak for the three, (but I will) I do not believe that it is the path that they intended when they created this beast.
    I would like the ability in MY phone do to the things that I want it to do. I want the ability to put my apps all of them if I choose on my SD card, not just the ones G wants me to. I also want to install the apps I choose to and delete the ones I choose to. Isn’t that the whole philosophy behind a Open handset alliance.
    Now do not get me wrong, I am not stupid, I know that in no way could Android have become this huge w/o G. But it is time for this ‘child’ to leave home and grow up.

    • emilg

      Those are good points, I hope you can speak those on next Google I/O, let them know what they did wrong.

    • Joe J

      Also not know is Google is secretly underhanding and trying to destoy AOSP ability to grow

  • s2weden2000

    it’s about bulk …

  • abazigal

    Another problem we have with commoditization is stagnation. New features require R&D, which in turn requires significant profits from hardware sales. Are people really okay with smartphones going the PC route with minimal differentiation?

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  • Roj Beraña

    I have a dream. An android phone that has only dual core, 1gb of ram and still functioning fast. An android phone that has no virtual machine in it making that barrier between the software and the hardware. An android where developing apps is not toxic. But that is just a dream :(

    • Justin Merithew

      The specs part of what you said sounded like the original Moto G, which overall had very good performance.

    • Android Developer

      The virtual machine doesn’t take place for games and heavy apps, only for normal apps, and that works just fine.

    • jay

      Sounds like iPhone but apparently fandroids don’t want a better experience(read comments).

      • chunkybeats

        Um why do come on here and troll about Android? Go off and play in Macworld where its a perfect world you idiot!

  • Chris

    If having stock is that important to you then root or simply buy a nexus. Let us who like htc sense of TouchWiz (lol)) have it. It’s our phones what does it matter to you if we like it and you don’t?

  • Ivan

    What’s that wallpaper of the phone (is that a oneplus?) which is next to the smartwatch? It looks awesome.

  • Black Shep

    Are these people retarded? If it wasn’t for Google you wouldn’t even have Android TO skin. The flexibility of rooting is practically endless. Don’t like your rom? Flash a different one that suits your needs. Stop being fucking fanboys over the same Google OS. We can all agree that no matter what skin it is still Android and miles ahead of iOS. I apologize for the rant, but seeing these comments was lowering my IQ.

    • Chris

      THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

      these people who run around demanding stock Piss me off. Why would anyone want android to be like iOS Every phone having the same look and feel… YUCK

      • Michael Samsara

        Because they like to bitch? Have nothing of value to set before us that is actually worthy our erudite. circumspect and considered purview? Because it is easier to criticize than create? sms

        • TornyiBarnabásazIsten

          They are circumcised, too.

    • GR

      Yup flash rom is miles ahead of iOS lol. /s

    • jay

      Are you retarded?

      if it wasn’t for Apple you wouldn’t even have an app store or touchscreen.

      • Michael Samsara

        That is like saying that if Einstein hadn’t been around no one would have come up with his “discoveries”. It might have taken ten years longer – probably not though considering the Germans were just a hairs breadth away from getting the Atomic bomb before us. The fact that Apple happened upon the idea and was first to market with it is a fact; that we “owe” them it OR that they own the idea (much as they would like to claim it like they tried to claim the shape of the rectangle as their intellectual property) – is not.

        • cee

          Maybe you should look up the Google Sooner phone, we all know that Google was at least a decade behind, as stated by the android development team.

          So you would still have to wait another three years to say ‘it will work on the next one. You would be four years away from white bobbles (touchscreen sensors on roid phones circa 2009) on the screen that is only readable in a darken room).

          No one would have heard of Corning and you would still have screens at 640×480.

          It would be another 13 years before 64-bit phones appeared!

          Just take the great design of the Sooner (Blackberry rip-off) and keep that for ten years, then upgrade to the G1Sidekick (Nokia rip-off) for the next ten.

          Really, Google were more like twenty years behind (I beleive the wording was “What we had suddenly looked just so . . . nineties,” Chris DeSalvo).

  • McLaren F1P1

    I don’t mind allowing my data like what I like to watch, my country, gender to Google as it’s secure and safe and I’d be provided with ads related to my usage and preferences and not weird ads! I consider Google safe enough for me and their products are high quality and productive to use! I just wished they allowed Android users to uninstall their apps instead of just freezing! They should know that if a product is mind blowing and consumers appreciate it, nothing will inhibit it! gmail, keyboard, play store, camera, chrome are the best products. No one will want to uninstall them in contrast to play movies, music, newsstand, hangout! Free services are always appreciated!

  • Frosti

    Nice article!
    I am really suprised by the low market share of Sony and HTC. Sure there were reports of HTCs red figures for a few months now also that the Z-line isn’t profitable. But 3,2% / 1,8% is pretty damn low for those “Flagship OEMs” everybody knows.
    And for all those, who don’t like TouchWiz, Sense,… I can just say: There are GooglePlay versions of the S5 or the M8. And if you can’t get one of these special editions there is still the classic way of rooting and Custom ROMs which is really not that big deal to “install”. Sick with TouchWiz? No Problem! get CM 11.0 and you are fine!

  • guest

    Your statement regarding Lenovo acquiring Motorola is wrong! Motorola is STILL owned by Google. The acquisition is currently under review by CFIUS.

    • Simon Hill

      Fair point, but I think it will go through.

    • Chris

      Still can’t believe that a forigen compney may be owning an american compney. That’s just not right.

      • TornyiBarnabásazIsten

        Compney? English, motherfucker, do you speak it?

        • Chris

          Do you?

  • Kasi Viswanathan

    i feel simple and user friendly with stock

  • flamencoguy

    That picture of the Chinese parliament is totally inappropriate. The companies making phones in China are all private companies and not state companies and have nothing to do with the government. I find it is distasteful trying to mix concepts to give people the wrong impression.

    • Joe J

      Huawei ZTE anyone?

    • James

      The Chinese government is the reason that Google can’t compete in China. The picture is very appropriate. The chinese manufacturers have free reign to run and modify Android without Google with no repercussions and that is one of the big stumbling blocks for Android’s future.

      • jay

        it’s not that they hate google, it’s more that they don’t want another country spying on their people. google can’t function without harvesting personal information so there’s no alternative or reason for google services in China.

  • Colin Null

    I think that any OEM phone should come with the ability to switch between the skin, and stock. Stock android is no more than a few hundred MB so space isn’t a concern. That way, you can choose what you want. And you can get stock android updated right away.

    • Chris

      My HTC one m8 with sense has gotten a few updates since launch.

      And you can have stock. It’s called rooting or buying a nexus

  • MGB

    I miss Symbian *sobs*

  • Vinny

    Just imagine if there was no Android. Everyone would be buying Apple. That thought just made my body shudder. Windows Phone could have never been able to compete with Apple supremacy on hipsters and teenagers. So stop bashing Android/Manufacturers. Be happy with whatever Google did/doing for us.

    • Chris

      Well if there was no android, we would not know of anything better….

      But I agree that we should be happy. If someone wants stock there are nexus devices and plenty of flagships that they can root. If someone like my self enjoys htc sense then let it be. What’s it to you if someone doesn’t like sense?

      Stock fans get on my nerves sometimes..

    • jay

      If there was no Apple you wouldn’t have all these android iPhoneys. Is your logic biased and blind?

      Windows would have eventually copied Apple and market share would be similar.
      Apple can’t make phones fast enough to support %99 of the world. So no, not everyone would have iPhone.

  • Joe J

    Hey simon great article. Did you happen to frequent the droidlife message boards. Because you bring up companies and the exact same points I was making to die hard Stock android fans. Little do they know alot of the features they love were lifted from oem skins. Google backstabbing all the oems that put them on the map .

    • Chris

      Those are more then just skins though. It’s a custom android version

    • Simon Hill

      Thanks Joe, haven’t been on the droidlife message boards, but point me at it and I’ll take a look.

    • Michael Samsara

      Assumptions are the mother of all fuckups. A good idea does not happen in a vacuum and usually not just within one person; there is a thing called synergy as well as logical suggestion and deductions that lead to similar ideas occurring simultaneously in disparate parts of the world in multiple minds. It may be someone copied – or it may just mean that a feature just naturally suggested itself to someone. Only a company like Apple sees the obvious – like the shape of a rectangle – then tires to claim it as their proprietary, intellectual knowledge.

  • Laurentiu

    Alcatel is a French company not Chinese…

    • Simon Hill

      I should have said TCL-Alcatel.

  • Charlie

    And despite everybody saying android is killing ios, apple is (still) posting record profits, keeping high customer satisfaction, and stirring up more excitiment than any other tech event of the year.

    • Chris

      As an android user I do agree. Plus I like how their keynotes are. People are easy to understand and they go though everything rather small tub bits and people walking all over the audience..

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  • GR

    It all makes sense even more now. Not hating but glad I choose different.

  • Marcos

    Why can’t Android be more like Windows in this sense? Stock Windows comes with a bunch of applications that a lot of people here would consider bloatware (i.e. Spider Solitaire, Calculator, Notepad), but most if not all of these apps can be uninstalled or deleted by going into that scary Sys32 folder and pressing the delete key, then going into the registry editor to remove any evidence they ever existed. Granted, most people will be too scared to mess up their OS by doing this, but the info is out there on the web if you really want to, and Microsoft has no qualms about letting you do it, after all, it’s YOUR OS now, you’ve paid for it. Similarly, all of those crappy OEM bloatware apps for Windows can be very easily uninstalled by taking a little trip into the Windows Start Menu or Control Panel, and even if the OEM is a prick and wants to make it hard for you to delete their software, Microsoft will allow you to browse endless folders and move bit and byte to get rid of whatever you don’t want as long as it doesn’t affect system stability, and sometimes even if it does. Once again because this is YOUR device, you should be allowed to do whatever you want with it. Linux. (the platform Android is supposed to be based on) is even more liberal about software openness, allowing you to modify the system’s kernel to your liking, why must the smartphone market be dominated by apple’s legacy? Let us play with android til it breaks! And then give us free stock restores like Microsoft, HP, Dell, Gateway, Toshiba, Sony and so many others have done before you!

  • Caleb Wright

    Who ever wrote this really didn’t think clearly…. Computers came out Windows Linux/ubuntuu and Apple. Now the phones are based on that. The reason Windows phones are crap is because almost no one liked when Windows 7 was gone Windows XP and 7 were good then I gave no craps about Windows after that.I said it when I was younger and I will say it again Apple is for musicians artists and the awkward kind of person. Were android based of Linux is the idea you take awkward and the norm of Windows put I t toghter and you have something great. That’s why android rules and if you forgot to mention Apple has 5 phones Windows has like 8 and android has over 37. So unless some one can create a new OS that is faster then Windows more creative then android and more fan effective then Apple then android has no competition. And if I’m wrong comment to me and tell me why I like discussion. I am sure things may change in 10 years but until then I doubt it.

  • willdao

    Um, “Alcatel” decidedly is NOT a Chinese company. It is a French company. And, since the mid-2000s, it has been “Alcatel-Lucent,” formed by the so-called “merger” (more accurate than this face-saving term is: “buyout”) of the American firm Lucent Technologies, which in turn was a company spun off by the breakup of the original, monopolistic telecom company AT & T (“Ma Bell”) in the mid-80s: then known as Bell Laboratories; Bell Labs changed it’s name, to Lucent Technologies–and its market function, to leverage its IP and the billions in cash it got in the breakup, to go after, among other things, lucrative government and large-scale tech infrastructure contracts (with, unfortunately, limited success, somewhat due to an unfortunate combination of arrogance and inexperience in their new chosen markets)–although the Bell Labs name was was still retained by Lucent as an R & D subsidiary company, which had been its original function within Ma Bell.

    (Regarding their mediocre success in government and telecom contracting, there was a joke among telecom insiders a decade and more ago: “How do you get to be an $8B company like Lucent? You start out as a $28B company,” ha, ha.)

    Among other patents Bell Labs is famous for, are: the transistor, the laser and the integrated circuit. There are hundreds of others of very major importance, and many thousands of niche patents. Their IP portfolio is as impressive as it gets–historically. Unfortunately, they have not been able to keep up in the fast-paced tech world we now live in. But, all this is just an aside…Alcatel decidedly ain’t Chinese.

    Ya know, just FYI.

    • Simon Hill

      Sorry for the confusion, but I’m talking about this company – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcatel_Mobile_Phones which was a joint venture between Chinese TCL and the original French Alcatel. TCL bought them out and still uses the name.

      • willdao

        Well, isn’t that just what I get for being a didactic troll, lol: an education. Thanks for that–I didn’t realize TCL retained the rights–or that it would even have been at all profitable for them to have done so, in the home market, at least. Or, frankly, anywhere. The name is hardly all that valuable in consumer electronics. (In fact, other than as a venture in which to stash some cash they didn’t otherwise know what to do with, I’m also am not sure why Alcatel strayed from their core business with the venture, in the first place. It makes far more sense for Intel to do something strategic like this in China, for example–as has been mooted, recently.)

        Thank you for my comeuppance, sir!

        :)

        Will

  • s2weden2000

    No problems..it owns …

  • thebear

    Google sucks.

  • Jasmeet Singh

    When apple users are happy with stock ios then many android users are also happy with the stock version including me.getting hang or slowing down is the main problem with samsung.i believe if they provide almost stock experience,its dominance will increase again.
    Same case with sony.I have xperia Zl With quad core processor.It received kitkat update from jellybean which slowed down the phone like its chinese device.Whereas kitkat was made to smooth down the performance with mid end hardware.
    So why not provide stock.You can modify it if you want by rooting it.And moreover OTA updates will be faster and perfect.Trust me,stock android is much better experience.And companies will require less hardware specs for stock which can lower down their manufacturing cost.
    Regarding bloat,its in stock as well as modified ones.It can be bloat for someone and necessity for someone else

  • a

    Guys its not Lava it’s spice…..

  • fredphoesh

    I think google should KILL AOSP. Seriously. The way Google makes money through Android is through the app store and advertising on web sites etc… Its all very nice having open source, but when every company in the world seems happy to take the fantastic stuff google made for free, and then monetise it for themselves?? Well I would be pissed off if I was Google. Google give the stuff for free and get paid back because we see adverts. Fair swop. Amazon, China Telcos, and now CM are greedy pigs IMO and should pay for the use of android if they want to make money from it without Google getting anything back for THEIR product.

    • The Calm Critic

      That way we’re back to square 1 and that’s more in Google’s favor rather than us the user base. Google KNEW the risks involved and has already made the right calculations, just not so much on the apps’ forking part or outside app ecosystems.

      And tbh the way Google is handling Android vertically they’re the last company I’d rely on to close Android back down if I were you. I can elaborate further as to why but not now.

  • Michael Samsara

    Good for Google that they decided not to allow China to filter search results. Better that they focus on helping advance by their efforts the free world – rather than in any way – however even slight – a country dedicated to the enslavement of the rest of us.

    In due course – hopefully sooner rather than later – China will finish digging its own grave and lay to rest it dictatorial, totalitarian, communist paradigm and join the rest of the world in the 21st Century and leave behind its 5,000 years of utter disrespect and total lack of concern – for – human rights and human life.

    In the meantime – Google had – frankly – if it wanted to live up to its motto – no choice but to say nay to China’s desire to keep the truth from its people.

    What do you want to bet that if you do a search on the Chinese approved search engines nothing – or at least nothing except what the re-writers of Chinese history in Beijing want – shows up about a little event called Tiananmen Square?

  • Yasitha Navodya

    One of the major problem is stock Android updates. How many people looking forward to android L? Non of them. Lot of them looking forward to nexus phone that comes with Android L. That’s the problem. We all know we are in a black hole when starts to think about “Does my device get Android L?”. Simply said, to taste a new version of Android that comes, you need to get the flagship that comes with or have to have another branded flagship device. Even on a flagship device you’ll have to wait months.
    And on the flagship you brought, how many major updates you’re expecting in future? You have no idea just like me.

  • risky wahyu nugroho

    all operating system have problems. i still love android. it make my life easier with technology in my hand
    blog android

  • The Calm Critic

    This piece is a bit way too “pro-Google-ish” that I’m as an Android user can get comfy to, perhaps a diff perspective is needed.

    The no.1 archenemy for an OS platform = PLANNED OBSOLESCENCE = gambling user base’s loyalty, end of. The very reason why PCs have plateaued for some years now, not because of lacking innovations etc. >Everything else is secondary.this< ladies and gents would/should be our top priority to worry about, forget about closing up what's supposed to be open arguments. I mean look at iOS 8 right now. We're lucky we're not in that Apple tax paying camp to have to put up with that but even so as a rough example unfortunately it's applicable
    to this particular subject not too far off.

    Settle this obstacle 1st and the rest will fall into place nicely.

  • Cristhian Mejia

    Good article very right on those points.

  • mittfh

    Skimming through these comments, it seems many here would like the Android equivalent of Arch / Manjaro – you just get the bare minimum to operate the system installed by default, and everything else you have to install yourself (hopefully you’ll have home Wi-Fi or an unlimited data plan…)

    Or maybe even something akin to the Smartphone version of the RasPi – you get the hardware in the box but absolutely nothing whatsoever in terms of software – you have to have a PC in order to download and install one of a choice of OSes.

  • You’re drawing a dark picture, just because the OEM’s profits, but bright picture of Google’s Android rise is for all the others! The users, and the advertisers! Everybody wins, except the OEMs!… AND SO WHAT?!! The users and the businesses are happy – everybody’s happy! And the smartphone, as a gate to the New Internet with the great Google’s inovations, would be more accessible to whole the people, which is great ! (with AndroidOne and the cheapest great Nexus devices!)

    What dark are you seeing in this, an androidauthority?!?

  • Hithik Wasan

    Apple is The Worst Manufacturer Ever In The World

  • MC Wong

    I believe google/android is giving users top notch services free. It just has to maintain this quality to keep android at the top.

  • joe29

    Project Ara and Android One will be the next big things from Google.

  • veinyshaft

    I’m sure google will be OK hell they charge full premium price for for their devices(exactly double of the last gen) and get paid for your data. Its like they get to double dip in the pockets of their customers…$mart!

  • cee

    You all need to re-read the article again.

    Android is a money making machine for Google, no altruism here.

    Your device has to have Google services to make money from your personal information, to get around this you have to jailbreak your device.

    It’s not rocket science, it’s data collection, as stated several times in the article.

    Do any of you really think it is charity work for the good of mankind??

  • netsurfer912

    There’s Sailfish OS.

  • joules

    Android is amazing it can do really a lot . its smooth specially on stock. Its the best and always will be specially with the new 5.0 .The end