A recent article on Android Central entitled “The Insane Pace of Android” encapsulates a lot of what’s going on in the Android ecosystem – and why that should be a first concern among anyone looking to buy or upgrade a mobile device. Apple is basically eating Android’s dust. Especially in dusty Third World countries outside the U.S., which may not be the first concern among Wall Street money guys – either in their stock picks or their buying choices – but which add up to a user base that is dwarfing iOS, and outdistancing it more every day.
“There’s an entirely new version of Android right around the corner,” points out Android Central’s Russell Holly. “There’s a whole new world right around the corner, because Android is in this seemingly constant state of change now. We have core apps updating on a regular and consistent basis, manufacturers pushing their apps to the Play Store in order to update them in a timely manner, and the beating heart of the platform is on a six week release cycle.”
That’s regular updates to the core of the OS delivered every month and a half through Google Play Services. At a stroke, this fixes many of the problems Android had in the past with fragmentation of the platform and tardy upgrades by phone manufacturers. Actually, Google has turned Android’s platform makeup and legacy issues into an advantage, by offering on-the-fly incremental updates to the phone OS and core apps. Holly emphasizes: “it is something that is uniquely Android. No other smartphone OS is offering this experience.”
Then there is the rollout of the Android One platform, offering a highly affordable $100 form factor smartphone for India and other developing markets. As The Indian Express points out, this brings a Nexus-style pure Android experience to India, but in fact even cheaper Android phones have already proliferated across the Subcontinent. “There is also a huge business opportunity for Google in just expanding the number of Internet users globally, after all it is the largest digital advertising company in world,” notes The Indian Express.
Contrast this with the mixed reception for the Apple Watch and the new iPhone, whose main breakthrough value proposition is to copy existing Android screen sizes. The famous “reality distortion field” is increasingly beginning to look like the old-fashioned marketing ploy of treating your audience like fools and hoping you can bamboozle them into not noticing. Meanwhile Apple continues to play catch-up in innovation and product design mindshare, Android sponges up the world’s new rising middle classes, with all kinds of virtuous circle knock-on effects for Google Play app store content and future revenues for reinvestment, not to mention the location-based, wearable, and other services that are facilitated by Google’s lead in search and mapping, and made for mobile.
This is is what happens when you set yourself up as device maker for the One Percent. The world grows away from beneath you. Especially when you built a walled garden that looks increasingly like some fairytale Sleeping Beauty briar wood, trapping you in a trance. Regretting that decision to pull up the drawbridge now? Too damn late.
Readers on digital devices of all kinds: Buy and invest wisely for the future. Shun Apple. They deserve it. At most, save your ebook purchases for cross-platform providers so you won’t be trapped in Apple’s walled garden as the briars grow up and choke it. As for hardware, if you buy Android, you’ll be getting a far wider range of far cheaper devices over a far broader choice of form factors with no shortfall in technology anyway. I mean, put like that, why would you even bother going with the competition?
(And yes, I’m inveterately hostile to Apple. Tell me to get over it by all means. But I’d like to see you argue me out of it on business strategy or product choice grounds.)