What happens once Android eats up all the competition?

by: Gary SimsJuly 1, 2013

Android invasionThe birth, rise and near dominance of Android is a spectacle to behold. Born with the help of open source software and an established OS kernel (in Linux), Android has seen continuous growth in almost all markets around the world. Recently published figures suggest that Android is now used on some 70 percent of all smartphones sold in Europe’s five biggest markets. The question is, once Android has risen to the very top, then what?

The current Android usage numbers are amazing and even allowing for generous margins of error, it is clear to everyone – even the hardest Android critic – that its total dominance is almost (but not yet) guaranteed.

Across Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain, Android’s market share is now 70.4 percent up from 61.3 percent a year ago. The remaining 29.6 percent is taken by iOS (17.8%) and Windows Phone (6.8%). And Europe isn’t the only market where Android is performing strong. In China, Android accounts for nearly 72% of all smartphone operating systems. In Australia Android is used on 62% of all smartphones while iOS is only used on 28% of devices. The only place where iOS is putting up a fight is in the USA where iOS runs on 42 percent of smartphones and Android on 52 percent.

If this growth rate continues and Android starts to account for 80 percent and upwards of smartphone operating systems, it can be declared the winner. But then what? Will it plateau? Will it decrease? Will it stagnate?

Why it could decrease or even stagnate

Once Android becomes the big cheese, the king of the hill and the top dog it could see a period of stagnation and eventual decrease in usage as the lack of competition fosters complacency and dampens innovation. As Android is sitting on it laurels others like Apple and Microsoft could seize the opportunity and release something spectacular. If Google is caught napping, like it was with Android on tablets, the the competition – or even a newcomer – could steal the crown. There could be mass defections away from Android and who knows, in a worse case scenario, Android could be consigned to the annals of history. Don’t laugh, it happened to Palm OS, Web OS, and Blackberry – it could happen to Android.

Another real danger for Android, once it reaches a saturation point, is fragmentation. Once there is no real or practical choice of smartphone OS then the handset manufacturers will need to try even harder to differentiate their offerings over other Android smartphones. This push to differentiate could cross the customization line and fork a non-compatible version of Android. This ‘Android B’ could then become the dominate strain leaving the original Android and Google fighting for survival.

Why it could continue to grow

Since Android is based on Linux and open source components it has the innate ability to adapt. It started on smartphones but (relatively) quickly was able to cope with the shift to tablets. Google are trying to create a cloud only operating system with Chrome OS and it is feasible that future release of Android could incorporate the best parts of Chrome OS. The resulting Android version would be equally as comfortable on a smartphone as it would be on a laptop or even a desktop PC.

Also with the increasing popularity of low energy Bluetooth devices, Android will continue to expand and grow as the OS of choice for embedded devices, even simple ones like sensors and health monitors. If Android does imbibe Chrome OS and succeeds further in the embedded market then it will truly become the common operating system for everything from a Bluetooth sensor to a multi-core desktop PC. Is this possible? Yes, because Linux (as a kernel) has partly already achieved this and Android can easily follow where Linux has gone before.

Last, but not least, is the market for new devices. Android is already seen on a whole gamut of devices which aren’t smartphones or tablets. This includes almost everything from media players to wearable computing devices (i.e. Google Glass). As new devices are designed and launched, the OS which makes most sense in terms of licensing model, existing ecosystem and flexibility is Android.

This mean that although Android could reach a saturation point in the smartphone market, there are plenty of other markets for it to conquer!

What do you think? Assuming that Android takes over 80 percent or more of the smartphone market, what will happen next?

  • Axel Maldonado

    First Comment!

    I believe it’s too early to know for sure what could happen

    • youareafail

      hahaahh loser

  • Gilles LeBlanc

    We have all seen this before, it will slowly degrade and stagnate as microsoft did. Well have a bunch of really great years though and probably a Windows XP style defacto best option for some time.

  • Nuno

    It can also take into account the errors others did in the past and continue to adapt to the market demands and changes. Google looks like a company that strives on keep pushing the envelope and it’s been keeping on this dynamic long time before giving us android and I’m certain they’ll continue on the same tone. There’s so many avenues and roads that it can go on the technology track.

    • Gilles LeBlanc

      Oh you mean like IBM Dell and Apple amongst others did?

      • Lisandro O Oocks

        Don’t forget Microsoft. At least it seems to be heading in that direction

      • Nuno

        this might even be a crazy idea that could lead nowhere but still it shows the willingness of google to try something new and not just stick to the same old and proven formula.

  • deV14nt

    Android wasn’t sleeping on tablets. It didn’t have a tablet.

    Ever since it has, it has done nothing but take market share away from Apple. A late start doesn’t mean they ever got lazy.

    • mobilemann

      considering android is an OS used by 90% of OEMs, the lack of penetration in the area is a testament to the ipad’s success. Amazon has done more for google on the tablet than google has.

      it’s ok for google not to be the best at everything.

  • lalala

    shouldnt it be ‘annals’ of history?

  • Tamadrummer94

    I don’t think Google will get lazy with Android, and there’s still plenty of work needed on Android to keep them busy. Issues like fragmentation, malware, tablets and apps, and a general lack of UX design and neglecting polish still remain and are yet to be fully addressed. Can’t wait for 5.0.

  • Carlitos

    If android eats up the competition i doubt that it would stagnate, because even inside the Android ecosystem, you have Oems that are competing against each other. So in a case it would not be all bad if Android has a monopoly.

    • AbbyZFresh

      iOS is catching up fast with Android in the US with over 40% market share though. And just back in December Android had a near monopoly of 70%.

      • Lisandro O Oocks

        Android was never at 70% market share in the U.S. I believe you’re pulling data from other area or simply the installs in certain period of time.

  • Robert Crosby

    google will never sleep there will always be competing os and in the near future too like “tizen”, if it will ever come true

  • roger

    there will be more diversity inside Android.

    Android may take 99.99% of market, but don’t expect all to be the same. There’ll be many version of Android when that happens.

    Just like now, low end devices use android 2.3, while high-end device use latest android 4 and above. Add to that countless custom ROM out there. miui etc.

  • z0phi3l

    Apple’s not going anywhere and unlike in the PC market I don’t see only a 2-5% market share for them, then there’s the Firefox OS and the Ubuntu smartphone OS that will likely fail, but even that is not a guarantee. No I don’t see Google letting Android stagnate at all

    The real question will be what will the Governments do, will they allow Google to have a large segment of the market like they allowed Apple to have a virtual monopoly for a few years or will they suddenly become “concerned” about their “actions” like they are being treated now with search, and the fact that the consumers are the ones driving those numbers and not the supposed shady actions the haters and failed competitors claim

  • Adam Outler

    I think Android will eventually be replaced by something else. It’s almost gauranteed. However, it has shaped the mobile industry in such a way that it will become a standard baseline.

  • Renascienza

    Seems Google is not lazy on this case. They are waiting. Google see the market and says: “Common, guys, do something better than that. Because if you doesn’t, I cannot beat anyone”. Google business is marketing, primary. 70% is a good market quote and if there is no threat on sight, better hold her most secret toys in the box, waiting the next competition moves.

  • Ivan Myring

    The world will end after android is finally declared supreme. The universe will be to perfect to exist.

    • Spruce Cycle

      The world won’t end immediately the lag will keep it going a few thousand more eons.

      • Ivan Myring

        First, fuck off, troll.
        Second, as an aeon has no fixed length, you cannot really have more than one.

        • Spruce Cycle

          An eon is approximately 2400 years dummy and android lag will stretch that out till eternity. Enjoy ur day!

          • Ivan Myring

            Definition of aeon
            aeon esp US, eon [ˈiːən ˈiːɒn]
            1. an immeasurably long period of time; age

          • Spruce Cycle

            an age is a measurement of around 2400-2500 years dummy

          • Ivan Myring

            Immeasurable. A synonym for infinite.

          • Spruce Cycle

            Ivan Myring synonym for dummy.

          • Ivan Myring

            Spruce Cycle, esp wanker, Spruce Scycle [nôb]
            1. Troll who is shit at arguing, often busy sucking Tin Cook’s penis

          • Spruce Cycle

            Notice how you don’t deny being a dummy…lol

          • Ivan Myring

            Notice how you don’t deny being a wanker, nob, troll, shit at arguing or being Tim cooks whore.

          • Spruce Cycle

            But those are all true, y should I deny them? Dummy.

  • Alan Shearer

    Once it eats up all competition it will become self aware!!!

    Ok, someone had to do that joke :P

  • roiji

    and Android is being embedded on cameras as well…

  • rzb

    Then Ubuntu will steal the show. Natively adapted to phones, tablets and pcs