2011 – The Year of Android?

The battle for OS supremacy is heating up as usual with the launch of Windows Phone 7, Apple OS updates, and Android. Why is it important to capture a big chunk of the mobile OS pie? Simple – the one who controls the mobile OS, in a way will dominate or will have an advantage in the mobile market.

Who are the players? iPhone, Android, Palm, RIM, Windows Phone 7 and Symbian. Who is leading or who will dominate the mobile OS market?

According to a survey conducted by mobile-ad firm ‘Millennial Media,’ in association with ‘Digiday’ and analysts from ‘Stifel Nicolaus’, the developer community plan to focus 29% of their time on developing for the Android mobile operating system, 8% on Apple’s iPhone. 20% for Windows Phone 7, 12% for RIM’s BlackBerry, 6% for Symbian and 4% for Palm.

Now why is the result of this survey important? If true, Android is poised to overtake iPhone in terms of app development, and this is not a good news for Apple and Steve Jobs. People buy device more because of the application that comes with it rather than just the hardware. One can be attracted to the physical appearance of the device but after awhile, the device functionality and usability will come into play.

What can a user do with the device will be an important factor. How can it help his/her work or even in his/her personal requirement? More developer supporting Android means more applications will be released, more applications means more possible downloads, and more possible downloads means more revenue for the developers.

Another survey, this time conducted by the NPD group reveals that Android’s OS was installed in 44 percent of all smartphones purchased in Q3, an increase of 11 percentage points since Q2; Apple iOS held relatively steady versus last quarter, rising one percentage point to 23 percent; RIM OS, fell to third position, declining from 28 percent to 22 percent. The first survey was about the OS, the NPD survey is about the device. What does it says now?

Android has a very bright future but it should be careful in its announcement that it can run in almost any device – point and case tablet PCs. Most computer manufacturers have announced that they will have their own tablet PCs either running Windows 7 and Android, only to retract after Android made its own annoucement that the Android OS is not yet ready or was not design to run on tablet PCs. The Android tablets was relegated to Adroid phones with bigger screens.

People who run Android should be careful in making claims that it cannot fulfill. Users will wait and will be disappointed if the promise cannot be made.

Some of you might say this is still too early to judge who’s going to win this battle, and I will tell you I agree that it is still too early. But two surveys pointing to Android’s dominance is something other OS and device manufacturers should look into. If they can’t beat Android, then becoming number 2 or 3 will not be bad at all.


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