Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Android is the game changer

2009 is not the year of the Linux Desktop. It is shaping up to be the year of the Linux powered smartphone as Palm re-enters the game with the Palm Pre and most importantly Google's Android is positioning itself to be the de facto standard in smartphone operating systems. With companies like HTC, Sony Ericson, Asus, Acer, Lenovo, Archos, Motorola and Yuhua all announcing phone and netbook products based on Android (there are a total of 18 promised Android products heading to market), Android is going to be an instant player and rapidly pass up the iPhone in sales. Incidentally, both Google's Android and Palm's Pre run Linux.

Android Strategy Parallels Microsoft in the 80s
Google has pulled off a coup: while others were focused on creating walled gardens and vendor lock in, Google has quietly built the modern equivelent to the DOS/Windows value proposition of the 1980s. Back then it was, "you make the hardware, and we'll provide the software." DOS and Windows weren't as nice as Xenix or later the Mac, but hardware manufacturers cranked out the PC clones because the R&D costs were much lower than trying to sell a proprietary OS. Users like the fact there was choice, and that choice led to competitive differentiation between PC manufacturers. Google's Android is uniquely positioned to deliver the same benefit MS delivered back in the 1980s that led to it's current monopoly of the PC market. Ironically, Android is positioned to take off where

Good Enough is Good Enough
One surprise is that Android is very, very good. It's easy to use, has lots of eye candy and most importantly is very reliable. More importantly, the developer's tools are strong and a vibrant community of application developers have emereged cranking out thousands of add on applications for Android. While Android comes just short of the level of eye candy on the iPhone and Palm Pre, it comes close enough to get people excited.

Best Bet for Developers
Software developers should give Android a long hard look as it has a promising future with a user base that is set to explode as the new Android devices hit the market though the fall and winter. Google has taken the time to provide a strong development environment and there are lots of open source applications to play with to learn. Because Android supports persistent processes and multitasks smoothly, you can create applications that are always on and always working (this is a particularly big problem with the iPhone)

The Andorid Market makes selling and distributing applications to users easy, and you are not solely dependent on Google's Market to sell your application - most Android phones can download applications directly from your website.

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