How Android Is Hurting the Mobile Market
Filed under: News and Trends
Google's Android operating system has been nothing short of a marvel in the mobile market. Over the last year, the operating system has continued to capture market share, and Apple, trying to keep up, hasn't been so successful. But it's not alone. RIM's BlackBerry operating system has lost all chance of taking a controlling stake in the market, and Windows Phone 7 is practically non-existent in the marketplace. Even with Android's success, the operating system is causing significant trouble in the mobile market. From the fact that it's totally dominant to the issue of multiple application stores, Android is as much helping the mobile ecosystem as it is hurting it. It's rather unfortunate, but the major operating system that's running the mobile space is also contributing, in some ways, to its troubles. Here's a deeper look at Android and how the operating system is hurting the mobile market and the customer experience.
1. Dominance Is A Bad Thing
There's nothing wrong with a company being successful, but when it turns into dominance, it's an issue. Dominant companies can often times stifle innovation, hurt competition, and generally cause trouble in the marketplace. Android dominating the marketplace is slowly but surely starting to do just that. And it's a real problem for every stakeholder.
2. Security Woes
Android is a security nightmare for mobile device owners. The operating system has been home to several malware outbreaks in the last year, and according to the latest data, that trend will only continue in the coming months and years. Android is a lightning rod for malicious hackers.
3. Too Many Flavors
Because Android is open source, device makers can do whatever they want with the operating system to make it unique on their respective products. But that means there's not a single, uniform experience across the Android ecosystem.
4. Everyone Wants to Make A Profit
Too many vendors see Android as a potentially profitable operating system. For them, that's great. But those who want high-quality products across the board will be disappointed by what they find. While there are undoubtedly some nice Android-based devices in the wild, there are many more losers.
5. Multiple App Stores
Unlike the iOS ecosystem, which has a single App Store, Android has several. The two most prominent marketplaces come from Google (the Android Market) and Amazon (the App Store). Developers need to support multiple stores because of Android's openness. And in the process, consumers don't quite know where they should go.
Google hasn't done a good job of addressing fragmentation in the marketplace. There are a slew of Android versions, including Froyo, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, and others, and mobile partners do a terrible job of updating devices. Fragmentation is becoming the norm in the mobile space.
7. Consumers Are Accepting Mediocrity
As noted, many Android-based devices are not living up to the standard set by products like Apple's iPhone. And yet, consumers keep buying the devices that fall short. It appears that Android is creating a culture whereby consumers are willing to accept mediocrity. And that's not a good thing.
8. Google Fans, Rejoice! But What About Everyone Else?
For Google fans, Android's success is something to be celebrated. After all, their favorite company is dominating another market. But Android is also forcing customers into a Google-centric model that, in some cases, doesn't hold up to other services out there.
9. Microsoft's Desperation
Microsoft wants nothing more than to beat Android at its own game. But it hasn't succeeded so far. Now Microsoft is getting desperate, inking deals with Nokia that likely won't work and trying to take a piece of the Android revenue stream by licensing patents to device makers using Google's operating system.
10. Expect More Acquisitions
Earlier this year, Google announced that it planned to acquire Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion. The search company said it was to bolster its patent portfolio, but many believe it might go beyond that, as Google potentially eyes the hardware market. Next year, in response to that, other Android vendors might start to consolidate to safeguard themselves from a Google-Motorola team. And as history has shown, consolidation in any market typically isn't a good thing.