The Financial Times says that Android is expected to be somewhat of a flop, at least initially. Without backing up the statement, they claim that is the opinion shared by most people in the know:
That is the overwhelming verdict of internet developers and mobile industry executives who have closely followed Google’s progress and, in some cases, worked with early versions.
The story goes on to quote a number of people who should have some knowledge of these things, and it makes many comparisons to Apple and its iPhone lineup. While I think it is not only possible, but damn near certain that Android won’t make the same entry splash on the market that Apple did, thanks to a lack of fanatical followers and Apple’s marketing prowess, I think they are being a bit harsh.
They talk a bit about the lack of a killer app for Android, saying that iTunes drove the iPhone to success. I think that’s a bit misguided. Apple’s name and the slick iPhone user interface iCandy (see what I did there?), along with a great browser are what drove people to the iPhone. People didn’t buy the device because of iTunes, though the fact that they could load music onto it with iTunes certainly didn’t hurt.
So why will people buy an Android phone? For the same reason they buy any phone. Because it appeals to them. The Android devices should, theoretically, be less expensive than competing smartphones. There will likely be a good number of applications available, at least eventually. And we’re likely to see some innovative form factors. The UI interaction and such will draw them in, too, though not in the same way as did the iPhone.
So while I don’t think Android is going to be the end-all, be-all of smartphones, there is plenty of room in a market with as much growth as this one. And you never know what might turn up when the open source community gets to play around with how things work.