Android Mindshare and Penetration (June/2010)

There is developer mindshare shifting towards Google's Android as a leading mobile platform. The research is based on a survey of more than 400 developers globally, segmented into eight major platforms: iOS, Android, Symbian, BlackBerry, Java ME, Windows Phone, Flash Lite, and mobile web.

Although developer interest in the mobile platform does not necessarily correlate with the installed base of devices using that mobile platform, it is a good indicator of where the market is headed. Not only do developers want open and easy to use mobile platforms but there must also be leading market share to warrant their interest.

Mobile Platforms

Looking at Android powered devices against iOS powered Apple devices (iPhone, iPad), I am once again reminded of the PC market featuring the Apple Mac against the Microsoft powered PC.

Once upon a time there was a company called Micro-soft founded by Paul Allen and Bill Gates. Their claim to fame in September 1975 was a working version of Micro-soft BASIC for the Altair computer. In 1976, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak announced the Apple I personal computer. In November 1976, the Microsoft trademark was registered. In 1977, Gates became president and Allen became vice-president of Microsoft. Apple computer went public in 1980. The IBM 16-bit PC in 1981 marked the dawn of the personal computer industry led by the MS-DOS PC and Apple Macintosh.

Upon the August 1981 debut of the IBM PC with MS-DOS, other hardware manufacturers set out to clone the IBM hardware and under pressure by Microsoft, IBM allowed Microsoft to license MS-DOS to the other hardware manufacturers. The story of IBM allowing MS-DOS to proliferate PC hardware clones is a story onto itself. In the early 1980s, Microsoft began developing software for the Apple Mac. In the mid 1980s, the graphical user interface came into vogue and competition was fierce between Microsoft powered PCs and the Apple Macs.

Skipping many details in this saga, Microsoft went on to become the major operating system for the dominant PCs built by various hardware manufacturers. Apple controlled every aspect of its Mac computer, from hardware to software to distribution, without opening up its platform. Apple was left in a niche market on its own.

As an observer of the open PC platform (i.e. multiple hardware manufacturers) versus the completely closed Apple system, I cannot help but think that Google's Android will succeed over Apple's iOS, although Apple's revenue and cash reserves must not be ignored. With Android's success, Google revenue will rise and contribute to Google's stock performance.

See related articles:

iPad Competition Dead (for now)

Google is closing the gap on smartphone apps

Smartphone Market Share

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