Android is the first on the market. Now what?

    In March last year, I wrote a short note about the prospects and problems of the Android platform , where, among other things, I almost immediately said that in the near future Android will take a leading role in the smartphone market. And although many commentators questioned this statement, time showed that I was right. In the same note, I want to share my thoughts on where this market will move next and what changes it may happen in the future.

    You should probably start with a cold shower for those who are very glad that Android has become the best-selling OS for smartphones, as there is nothing good in this fact for anyone but Google. Why? Because such a quick “success” in the market, with a significant degree of probability, will negatively affect the development and improvement of the system in the future. Just because leadership positions, both in general and in certain segments, are relaxing, which has been repeatedly confirmed by other companies in the telecommunications sector, and in other areas. In many respects, the rapid development and qualities of Android, which we saw earlier, can be explained just by competition and movement to the first place. Now, most likely, the rate of innovation and development of the platform will significantly decrease, which, among other things, will affect the pace of releases of new versions of the platform.

    But Android’s platform problems are still decent, if you don’t turn a blind eye to them due to excessive fanaticism. Moreover, among the problems there are purely technological, as well as organizational or even “political” ones.

    Probably the best known issue is platform fragmentation. Although it may seem to someone that this problem is no longer relevant now, they say Android 2.2 works on more than half of Android devicesHowever, in reality, reality is much worse. For more than a year (not the shortest time, especially in such a dynamic segment of the market) since the release of Android 2.2 (Froyo), this version has taken a share of only 51.8% of the total number of working Android communicators. Moreover, today it has already ceased to be the newest, because Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) has been released. Of course, you can blame the manufacturers-operators who are slowing down with updates, but after all, no one else like Google allowed to form such a situation, but we will not talk about that now.

    Fragmentation of the platform, by the way, is manifested not only as fragmentation into various versions, which is usually talked about, but also as a "fragmentation" of the system into versions of specific manufacturers. Yes, in general, the system remains the same, and most importantly in most cases it is still compatible with third-party applications from the Android Market, but the intervention of manufacturers with their own proprietary shells pretty much spreads Android to the camps of individual manufacturers in terms of UX. Although manufacturers with their motives can also be understood, especially since they do it not from a good life. And this is one of the components of the general problem of Android as a system, which I will mention later.

    Another problem is the Android problem - the problem of the software market for it, which is far from the best condition. It's not about the number of “goals” in the Android Market store, but rather about its work as a store. The store is littered with a lot of second- and third-rate software, but this is far from the biggest problem. The problem is that it’s very difficult for third-party developers to make money in the Android Market. There are many reasons for this: the availability of the ability to return money for the application, the huge level of piracy, the reluctance of users to pay for applications, etc., etc. What do we see in the end? A significant part of developers are trying to capitalize on advertising embedded in software. Serious software developers are somehow not very keen to release versions of their applications on the Android Market, some even sell applications outside of it.Amazon set about creating its own store for Android applications , and Google started a move to improve the Android Market - how successful it will be, time will tell.

    So what is the main problem with Android, which forces manufacturers to work this way (to put it mildly, not the best situation with updates, installing crapware and company shells, etc.), how do they work? The fact is that a significant, if not large, part of the manufacturers of Android smartphones makes very little money from them. This is best illustrated by information from Asymco for the fourth quarter of 2010.

    A little higher you can see the redistribution of profit shares between eight manufacturers of mobile phones. How can we conclude from this graph? The only manufacturers of Android devices that make normal profits from them are HTC and Samsung, and Samsung cannot be so categorical because for her, Android smartphones are far from the only products in the mobile phone sector. But, even if you consider Samsung, it is easy to notice that such a huge colossus like Samsung has a profit share of only two and a half times more from such a small, compared with the rest, companies like HTC. LG, Motorola and Sony Ericsson, as yet another manufacturer of many popular Android smartphones, earn almost nothing from their work. The overwhelming share of profit is received by companies

    Manufacturers of Android devices receive quite a bit of money from every phone sold. It is for this reason that we "have what we have." Manufacturers are ready to preinstall uninstallable crapware on them for a couple of extra dollars from the handset, they cannot and do not want to devote attention, time and resources to software updates and, most importantly, are engaged in the development of branded shells. And then the shell - you ask? The fact is that in their attempts to profit from the sale of these devices, these manufacturers need to create some kind of added value that would make the device better for the buyer, allowing them to request more money. In addition, to improve sales, the manufacturer wants to differentiate its products from competitor products so that it differs in the eyes of the buyer. How often do you get a sense of déjà vu when reading the features of a new Android smartphone? Display resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, a processor with a frequency of 1 GHz and 512 MB of RAM, Android 2.2 on board and so on - in terms of a significant part of the technical characteristics, most of the devices are the same, which is very bad from the point of view competition as depersonalizes devices, and turns manufacturers into dull collectors of the same type of product, the only distinguishing factor of which is the price, which, in this case, rushes down. which is very bad in terms of competition since depersonalizes devices, and turns manufacturers into dull collectors of the same type of product, the only distinguishing factor of which is the price, which, in this case, rushes down. which is very bad in terms of competition since depersonalizes devices, and turns manufacturers into dull collectors of the same type of product, the only distinguishing factor of which is the price, which, in this case, rushes down.

    To differentiate their products, manufacturers develop shells as this allows you to more strongly distinguish your products from competitors. Is HTC Sense very similar to Samsung TouchWiz or MotoBlur? That is the point. Nevertheless, the profit from a particular phone still remains low, so the main bet manufacturers make on a frequent change of models, even if there are no significant differences between them, in order to sell more and more new phones to a person. That is why most of Android devices, at the moment, will never wait for updates - the manufacturer has earned so little on the sale of the device, where there is still an update to do, it is better to try to sell a new phone to the client. Moreover, the development of the update really takes decent time and resources,

    It is the manufacturers ’bid for replacing the phone with a new model, rather than updating the software of the existing device, that causes the fragmentation of Android by version - the share of older versions, in the vast majority of cases, will be crowded out by a large volume (the smartphone market is growing quite dynamically) of newer devices, which immediately sold with a newer version of Android. The exceptions to this “vicious” practice are perhaps the release of updates for some models, which have already been sold in a very large circulation (in relation to a specific manufacturer) and the updating of which does not take so much time (because one model is updated by many customers), which can be seen in the Motorola Droid. Another exception are devices that are released shortly after the release of the next version of Android (for example, entering the Android 2 phone market.

    These and other problems of Android as a mobile platform can most likely be solved in one way or another, but whether they will seriously work on them, especially after Android has taken a fairly strong position, is a big question. The main beneficiary of this platform - its developers, is already more than satisfied with everything, because it performs its function. Money is earned from displaying ads and using branded services, and not from selling licenses for the system to manufacturers.

    In any case, in the near future, although not so fast, the share of Android will continue to grow due to RIM and Nokia, which, so far, simply have nothing to oppose in terms of modern mobile platforms. Apart from Apple iOS, only Windows Phone 7 from Microsoft and webOS from HP (but a miracle should happen here) will be able to compete with Android. That Windows Phone 7 may in the future rob Android of a fairly wide part of the market. Although the launch of the Windows Phone 7 platform cannot be called super successful , it is worth remembering that Android has not begun to gain popularity since the first day, moreover, manufacturers managed to sell two million licenses for Windows Phone 7 .

    At the same time, there are a lot of factors on the Microsoft side, many of which are just directed at manufacturers, and not just buyers. Here you can recall the simpler process of developing smartphones for Windows Phone 7, and the support of Microsoft in the promotion of devices, and closer work with manufacturers and developers (Microsoft even collaborates with the creators of jailbreak for its platform ). You can even recall the sore lack of problems with patents, which does not shine for manufacturers of Android devices, in contrast to the manufacturers of Windows Phone 7 smartphones. In general, there was already evidence that some companies in the near future will pay more attention to devices with Windows Phone 7 than their Android counterparts.

    For users, devices with Windows Phone 7 can provide a lot of what Android cannot boast of right now, including a good level of mobile gaming (Xbox Live is an excellent platform promotion tool in this regard) and a good level of support for MS Office (for many, it’s important for work ), and most importantly - an excellent level of "polished" system software on the phone.

    Of course, everything will depend on the efforts of Google and Microsoft, but I can well assume that within a couple of years Windows Phone will supplant Android from the high and middle segments of smartphones, where the cost of a software license for the manufacturer will have little effect on anything. Although the situation is quite possible that Microsoft is "flailing", finally losing the mobile market, but judging by their mood, they do not intend to allow this at any cost. What is your opinion?

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