Android’s success has been phenomenal over the past 2 years, and we all know it. It grew from a few percentage points market share to 30% in a year, and now it’s over 50% globally, which means out of 2 new smartphone sales, one of them is an Android device. But at some point this has to stop, right? It’s not like Android can keep growing forever. Or can it?
Well, obviously they can only grow so much out of a 100% market share, but I do think globally it will achieve more than 50%, and maybe even more than 60% in the next couple of years. The rest of the market would be split between iPhones and a bunch of other mobile operating systems, whether it’s Bada, Meego, Symbian, WP7, Tizen, Boot2Gecko, and maybe even a comeback from webOS. And I’m sure others will keep trying to build new mobile operating systems, too.
So if Android is to grow more than say 60%, it has to do it at the expense of those. That’s easier to do against those with few percentage points market share, and a bit harder to do against iOS, but not impossible. iPhones may start getting a little more popular in US and in some rich countries, but this should cancelled out with the emergence of the Android market in poorer countries. After all, Andy Rubin has just announced that there are now 850,000 Android devices being sold every single day, and the rate will keep growing higher. Even the whole of iOS can’t reach this number, and I believe it’s only half of that with all the iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches.
But the growth of Android in poorer countries, important as it may be, is not just about having a high percentage market share at some point in time. What matters even more for Android is that it sustains this ecosystem for decades. And Android has something no other mobile OS really has, and that’s the incredible flexibility and openess of the OS itself, which leads to many innovations not just in software, but also in hardware.
When you have so many manufacturers, whether very known or not, that are trying to compete with each other, and yet still be part of the same Android ecosystem, you get a lot of device options to choose from, but also a lot of price ranges, from the cheapest unlocked phone which costs around $100, which provides most of the functionality of an Android device, but with slower speed and lower resolution, to the most expensive, which should be around $600-$700, with all the latest and greatest technologies in it that us “early adopter” types love.
In a time when countries are getting bankrupt, and the economic crises keeps coming back, this will be a critical advantage for Android over any other platform. What this ultimately means is that no matter how tough things are going to get for people, they would still be able to afford an Android device. Plus, new cheaper and yet more powerful technologies, like the Cortex A7, will still appear, and get Android to an even lower price point.
And this is precisely why the Android ecosystem will be very sustainable over the years, as countries such as India, China, Eastern Europe, and even African countries will embrace Android fully, with no carrier subsidies necessary, and kids will grow up knowing nothing but the open source Android ecosystem. This will ensure Android’s legacy will be very strong and last for a very long time.