Android on the move

The debate rages on iPhone vs Droid vs Blackberry; this time with a few interesting numbers to back them up. According to NetworkWorld’s recent article Android is on the rise while the iPhone seems to have leveled off, and, not surprisingly, Blackberry continues to be the business leader. That being said however, Android takes the crown for growth this quarter by far.

The article continues by stating that the biggest casualty of this success was by far Microsoft. This is congruent with a recent trip to a client I took where we took a quick look at their Google Analytics traffic to see what devices were being used to view their site. In a three year aggregate report their iPad numbers were already at about 70% that of their Windows Mobile traffic. Considering the iPad has been out for an incredibly short amount of time, this should be telling of how the marketplace views Windows Mobile. To add salt to an open wound, in their infinite wisdom Microsoft has decided the best approach to helping this get better is to make it virtually impossible for current WM users to upgrade. Oh and those apps you already have, those won’t work either. Good luck Microsoft, it was rather unpleasant knowing you.

Moving right along I think it is important to examine the landscape quickly and lay out a few points of interest. One, Apple has been under a now infamous exclusivity contract with AT&T. This by default limits their potential device sales to the AT&T universe. As a point of hypothetical argument were they to acquire every AT&T customer a Verizon equivalent for example would still have the capacity to out sell it. Big problem for Apple. Dissolving this contract is the only logical way to allow the next growth spurt for them.

Second, Verizon users are bound to start buying this phone because everyone they know has a smart phone. They want one. They need one. They can’t have the iPhone so, what can they get? Yup, Android.

I enjoy the Android quite a bit. I think the open source aspect is wonderful and I do think there stands a lot of potential with the platform. That being said I think that there are some serious considerations when viewing this as “the” long term winner. While I agree the open source OS is a great idea I also have lived through my share of devices that crash due to conflicting software packages. Having a closed loop system assures (at least for now) me that my device won’t crash. That makes sense to me. I would love to see what happens down the road when an open source platform turns around a bites you in the ass when your contacts are stolen, phone compromised, or simply turns off because no one was watching when the app was produced.

As a company that develops iPhone and iPad applications I am hard pressed to disagree with all current clients who feel as though an iPhone app is where they need to be. Additionally I find it odd that while Blackberry remains number one in the world that not a single conversation has been started around Blackberry apps by any client; serious or hypothetical. The need and/or desire simply is not there.

Moving forward I don’t think there will be “a” phone that wins this race. For the foreseeable future anyway there is going to be room in the market for all players. In my humble opinion things have not even begun to heat up. Once the Apple/AT&T fiasco has become a distant memory I think things are going to really shake up. I am interested to see how many would-be Android customers still opt for Android once they can buy an iPhone. Hmm…

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