Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Android Winning the Mobile War?

According to Google Chairman and co-founder Erik Schmidt, Google's Android mobile and wireless device is winning the handset war hands down.   Independent Analyst firm IDC confirms this with the numbers coming in for Q3 2012 that Android enjoyed a 75% market share over iOS's runner up spot at 14.9%.  Microsoft's mobile efforts continue to grow well with a 140% increase in year over year smartphone shipments.

One lesson learned here is pay attention to developers.  Developers like easy.  We like open.  Making a developer jump through too many hoops to public a single application is not making friends.  If you examine the amount of energy required to be able to public your first application, RIM is by far the most tedious.   Apple is also fairly cumbersome to set up and Android has a very low barrier to entry.   Note that once you have made one application, the barrier to subsequent application publishing is still easier with Android.   Developers don't make all the decisions, but they do make recommendations.  If you have ever asked a family member who is a mobile developer "what phone should I buy?", chances are they are telling you to buy an Android phone nowadays.   The silent yet important grassroots groundswell cannot be ignored.

Here are some additional factors that may possibly affect the market share:

1. Quality

Apple makes good products and we're sure they are not diminishing.   Because Apple controls both the hardware and software (iOS), it has a distinct advantage over Android which is used on multiple types of hardware platforms.  Unlike the personal computing market, many users never re-install their phones operating system so it is up to each device handset manufacturer to ensure that Android runs well on their hardware.  On a personal note, the Galaxy III S is one lean, mean beast of a phone and is my favorite.

2. Ease of Programming

 One aspect of this battle that is not looked at very often is the popularity of Java amongst developers vs. Objective C.   Java is (for us anyways) much easier to learn than Objective C.  The syntax used by Java is also more familiar to many JavaScript, C# and ActionScript developers.  Objective C does give you far more control, but also forces more lines of code to accomplish the same thing.

3. Developer Tooling

XCode is used by iOS developer while Android developers are free to use whatever they want.  Since xCode's inception, it has steadily improved.   Eclipse is commonly used by Android developers and has some challenges ( anyone???).  Intellij's new IDEA is very promising for Android development.  I currently develop on Intellij 11 and may try out 12 with some new Android features and do a series of tutorials on it.   There are

4. Cost

Android phones should logically be lower in cost as there is more competition. Having said that, the observations are that price if not as much of a factor given carriers often subsidize this with plans.

5. Variety

Android wins here again hands down.  There are simply many different device to choose from rather than sticking to the iPhone.

There are more factors beyond this however the summary is clear.  Android is here to stay and will remain a dominent force in the marketplace.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I had to delete the comment above as it was posted by a company named Rapidsoft who spam blogs as part of their business model. They suck. Do not deal with them.

  3. Apple's lack of WiFi direct and Android's lack of support for Bluetooth 4 low energy remain as pain points on each platform. That said this developer is investing his time on android and cross platform technologies such as phonegap/HTML. Nexus series android devices seem the best way to go given the frequency of updates.


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