How Android Technology Captured the Market

by / Thursday, 12 December 2013 / Published in Business

How Android Technology Captured the Market

In the past, the Android operating system was often viewed as the underdog of the mobile market. In recent years, it has surpassed the market share of iOS and all other smartphone technologies by leaps and bounds. It currently has over 80 percent of the smartphone market share worldwide and even more of the market share in select countries, with its tablet market share steadily increasing on a global scale.

The Origins of the Android

Contrary to popular belief, Android was not developed by Google and it wasn’t released significantly behind the iOS system. Android was acquired by Google in 2005 from a separate tech firm and had been in development since 2003. Google has always had a habit of investing in noteworthy projects and allowing them to grow at their own speed. It wasn’t until 2008 that the first Android phone was released in cooperation with T-Mobile. This was actually only a year after the iPhone launch had introduced iOS to consumers.
While a year is a significant time in the tech industry, enough time has passed that the two technologies have roughly evened out. As of 2013, Apple’s iPhone iOS has been on the market 6 years and Android has been on the market 5; hardly the underdog story it might at first seem. Public perception has been altered by the fact that Android technology didn’t achieve success until the Motorola Droid was released in 2009.

Two Different Markets, Two Different Strategies

Despite both being mobile operating systems, the Android and the iOS platforms have drifted towards completely different markets with a small amount of overlap. It was when Android fully embraced this change that it became truly successful. Today, the Android OS is on hundreds of different models of phone and tablet, ranging from extremely inexpensive to luxury devices. Apple’s iOS, on the other hand, is only on a few products in very limited product lines that are all considered luxury products.
In 2009, Apple was released the iPhone 3GS while Android launched both the Motorola Droid and the Nexus One. The Droid was met with limited success and the Nexus One was chalked up as a failure. At the same time, however, Samsung was testing the waters with the Samsung I7500. By 2010, Samsung and HTC were both producing multiple Android devices, including the highly competitive Galaxy S and the EVO 4G. The Android OS eventually became popular through diversification, the exact opposite of the iPhone’s simplified philosophy.

Mobile Devices for Every Budget

One of the least expensive Android devices is the Moto G, when purchased new and unlocked. Priced at a mere $200, it is less than half as expensive as the least expensive iPhone of the same generation, the iPhone 5C. Meanwhile, the cost of the Galaxy S4 easily rivals the price of the iPhone 5S. Likewise, Android tablets are available at as low as $179.99 for the Ceros Motion while the least expensive model of the iPad is the iPad mini at $299.

These pricing disparities have allowed Android to take advantage of emerging markets in low-income areas while still branching out into luxury markets. Only the luxury models of the Android platform, such as the Galaxy S line, are in direct competition with those that want an iPhone. The rest of the models of Android phone and tablet are actually in competition with far less expensive phones, allowing the operating system to grow relatively unhindered by Apple. Less expensive phones have also allowed Android to expand throughout China, one of the largest mobile device markets in the world.

Separating the Device from the OS

Where the Android really shines is in its ability to separate itself from its physical hardware. The Android OS can be put on any mobile device, whereas the iOS architecture is only intended for use on Apple products. Without the ability to lease out the iOS infrastructure to other manufacturers, Apple has a far more limited scope than Google. This reason alone is a singular reason why the Apple iOS, and to a similar extend the BlackBerry OS, would never be able to truly triumph over the Android system.

The Future of the Droid

In recent years, Apple has attempted to diversify its product line, which may be a reaction to the relentless success of the Android. The iPhone line has always consisted of a single product with a few options, but in 2013 Apple announced the release of both the regular iPhone 5S and their budget product the iPhone 5C. Similarly, the iPad line has been branched out to include everything from the budget iPad Mini at $299 to the luxury iPad Air, priced at up to $929.
Apple may be diversifying its product line in hopes of capturing the Android market, but Android has the benefit of already being extremely well-entrenched. Many mobile device companies are manufacturing Android devices and are not likely to stop. The Apple iOS market cannot move onto these devices, and consumers will likely continue to support other phone options.