Why Hasn’t Google Mopped the Floor with Apple?

The mobile space is very competitive; but how why hasn’t Google killed it? Let’s explore that a bit…

aaaIntroduction

Every now and again, even the best of us get hit with a moment of clarity. You know, that moment right after you lay your head down to sleep, you find it…you see it, and it hits you.

BAM!

THE reason, despite ALL others why Google, in spite of their huge vendor penetration and installation base, hasn’t totally mopped the floor with Apple and sent the iPhone packing…and it call comes down to one word –

Ecosystem. Or is it Fragmentation…? In many ways the two are so irreparably intertwined, it’s depressing. However, anyway you slice it, its totally Google’s fault.

Fragmentation

A couple years ago, I wrote an article titled, Opinion – How Google can Trump the iPad. Back in 2010, no one had ever said, heard or understood what an ecosystem was. I was kinda close, but didn’t quite close the loop.

I got about 98% of the way there. Yes, the ecosystem is all about your content on your device; but its more about capturing the consumer and keeping them and their business regardless of what device they’re using. They keep coming back to YOU as the source of truth.

They use your productivity services. They use your applications. More importantly, they purchase those services and applications from sources YOU control, continually providing you with a revenue stream.

Is this starting to sound familiar? Good. Hold that thought… I want to clear something up first.

This is NOT an article about how totally eff-ing awesome Apple is. This is really an article that asks, “how the hell could Google miss the damn boat?!”

Google is partners with Samsung, LG, HTC, and bought Motorola so they could create and sell Android devices of their own. There are more worn out Android devices in land fills now-a-days than there are iPhones in active use, yet iOS and Android are virtually even in market share.

Android Takeover

Can ANYONE tell me why that is?

If you go the fragmentation route, you find that there are so many different versions of Google’s mobile OS out there that it kinda gives you a headache. As of 2013-08-01, you can see the spread of Android versions currently in use. I’m not certain what’s most frightening, the fact that Honeycomb was a total loser, or that Android 2.1 Eclaire still commands a 1.4% share of all devices currently on the market today.

Including Key Lime Pie, there are 35 active versions of Android. That’s all of them, folks. To some extent, you can find every version of Android ever released by Google active somewhere; and Android devices are like grains of sand – numerous to uncountable, even from a single vendor.

To be honest, that figure includes every major, minor and point release of the mobile OS to be made available to end users, and not every version made it to every device.

To contrast this, iOS has seen about 1/2 as many releases in only 6 devices. In the Apple camp, OS releases are highly controlled. Many changes are rolled up to an annual major, release cycle. Minor releases are only introduced as needed. Point releases are used to address crucial, showstopper bugs. The OS simply doesn’t have the level of releases (in software, we call this “churn”) that its competitor’s does. iOS appears to be much more stable and organized as a result.

So, I think its safe to say that there are a bajillion Android devices from numerous vendors running a bajillion versions of Android. The perception here is not just fragmentation, but complete and utter chaos when it comes to devices and OS releases.

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  • Dr Liam Terblanche

    I have to agree – to some degree – with the openness being a double edged sword. But as a mobile app developer, that very same openness is a huge drawing card to do my prototyping and poc’s on the Android ecosystem before trying the market for iOS. And I know others who see it the same way.

    And we’ve seen in the past (remember BB?), if you loose your developers, even the best ecosystem will go nowhere (I really like BB10).

    Google may not have (and say this for the sake of being pragmatically agreeable) the business acumen of Apple and the Besòs stable, but they know how to make engineers and coders flock to them. And the masses will go where the apps are.

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