Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Welcome Android - our view

The first Android phone is launched today and it is no real surprise that T-Mobile has the exclusive on this given the long association between the technology team and Andy Rubin, the driving architect behind Android.

Nonetheless, I am sure that being first in the queue will be a double edged sword as the device itself will come under intense scrutiny and criticism as it is likely to fail all cosmetic tests versus the iPhone.

However, this will miss the point. It is not about the device. This event could mark the beginning of something we will look back on as the single biggest driver of mass market mobile data adoption – making the iPhone bubble look quite puny by comparison.

It is somewhat of a paradox that the introduction of yet another mobile OS into an already crowded and fragmented market could lead to much needed standardization but that is what Android is seeking to achieve. The defining characteristic is its openness which has two profound effects.

First, it diffuses any potential politics and organizational inefficiencies between all the interested deploying parties (carriers, device manufacturers, Google etc) by putting the development of the platform in the hands of the developers – any developer in fact. Most developments of this type would stall in committee – through its openness Android escapes that noose.

Second, its openness will force a standardization across all the other platforms. Developers will port work from one to another, closed platforms will be forced to copy innovation, some platforms will disappear. Just as Chrome will ensure long term consistency in the browser world, so will Android in the OS.

The driving success factors will be how easily and quickly useful services can be deployed to the platform. Here Google’s brand is rivaled only by Apple in inspiring developers and one can be sure that Google will not be indulging in operator or device OEM exclusives which would limit its proliferation. Apple is about to be given a lesson in the power of being open. If Google can inspire widespread innovation then its market share will increase and the drive of Android in homogenizing other OS’s will take shape – something which drives more traffic which Google is happy to monetize.

The ambition behind Android is extraordinary. The fact that it stands such a strong chance of succeeding is breathtaking.

For the latest news on Android to your cellphone, point your browser to

[Post-dated: For an alternative view looking at the dark-side, this post is recommended from Visionmobile].

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Blogger Terence Eden said...

What will be very interesting to me is how "Open" the device is. Can I wipe Android and put on Ubuntu? Windows? Symbians Open Source OS?

Will we get to a stage where people don't pay to update their phone's hardware, but pay to update their phone's Operating System?

24 September 2008 at 15:49  
Blogger Coalface said...

Hi Terence, interesting thought. I had not thought of that angle.

Would you pay for the OS? I think the concept might be redundant as none of the players in the space - and particularly Google - will be looking to charge directly but seek to monetise in other ways.

I also think for the mass market, it is the design which matters and not the engine room - it will take some time for this to change. It will be interesting to see if this evolves.

30 September 2008 at 17:51  

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