Watch out for the Android

droidFrom Merriam-Webster’s:

an-droid: noun. a mobile robot usually with a human form

In the case of Google’s Android operating system, the “robot” is morphing into lots of forms. First and foremost, as a mobile phone with now nearly a dozen implementations. And those phones are starting to win acclaim (and not only for the Motorola Droid).

But that’s not all: Barnes & Noble based its Nook e-reader on Android and Creative is building an Android-based iPod Touch competitor.

Which is bad news for Apple, right? I’m not sure about that, but it’s certainly bad news for Blackberry, Palm and Symbian, not to mention Windows Mobile (did you forget Microsoft also supplies micro OSes for phones and the like?).

In fact, as the marketplace begins to settle out, it’s starting to resemble the PC market, circa 1995. Apple is providing a closed, end-to-end experience, while its competitor is supplying its platform to lots of hardware vendors for them to install and sell. One difference: Google (Android’s biggest backer) is not charging a license fee for the platform and offers it open source.

As has been observed with other open-source projects such as Linux, Firefox and MySQL, Android will continue to become more feature-rich, with more apps available, as Android handsets begin to take hold in the market. In comparison, Palm’s, Blackberry’s and even Microsoft’s ability to keep up with the state of the art will suffer. [Gizmodo makes a powerful case for Android's potential in this post.]

My prediction: Apple will rule the smartphone roost for some time. Android will be a strong #2. Who will be #3? Does it matter?

(Photo: Motorola Droid via phandroid.com)

Related post:
Can you make money with free software?

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