August 6, 2012

Android Rising: 7 things to know now about the hot-as-fire mobile platform

Android’s empire spans more than 400 devices on 231 mobile carriers in 123 countries, and the sheer number of eyeballs landing on Android screens is making the platform more appealing than ever before. Despite being perceived as a “poor man’s iPhone” many are beginning to look beyond Apple’s white glow to the underlying positives of its less flashy competition. To shed some light on the issue Adweek decided to survey analysts, industry insiders, and developers in order to get the lowdown on Android and how its going to give Apple a run for its money. Here’s seven of the most insightful conclusions they came to:

1. Android is the “volume” platform. Apple may win on user experience, but Android wins on numbers. “Over the past 18 months, Android has experienced a meteoric rise from a market leadership perspective,” says Linda Barrabee, an NPD Group analyst.

2. Android is the “platform of the people” - yes, techies and hipsters included. With an Android phone at nearly every price point, the platform is attracting a broader mix than Apple. A recent Nielsen study reported that 66 percent of users had annual incomes under $100,000 vs. 52 percent of Apple owners. Also, Android leads its competitors in penetration among African Americans, grabbing 37 percent of the market. RIM’s BlackBerry follows with 30 percent and the iPhone just 16 percent.

3. Android’s downside is inconsistent performance. One criticism has dogged Android from the start: fragmentation. Its open nature means dozens of manufacturers and more than 200 carriers globally can distribute Android phones. So different versions of the software on phones with different screen sizes, user interfaces, and capabilities all operate in the wild at once.

4. Multiple Android based app stores have their upsides and downsides. Several virtual shops peddle Android apps—but not all of them can guarantee a positive user experience. Android users can choose from Google’s official Android Marketplace, carrier app stores, and other independent venues—each with potentially different rankings, reviews, and standards.

5. Fragmentation isn’t fun, but it inspires innovation. For advertisers willing to do a little extra homework, there are opportunities for creative executions that leverage the capabilities of the different phones—from front-facing cameras to 3D hardware to Near Field Communications (NFC) technology.

6. Kindle Fire gives app development a kick in the pants.

Google could finally make gains in the tablet department in no small part to the recent

launch of Amazon’s Kindle Fire, which uses the Android platform. The tablet’s user-friendly interface and hyper-attractive $199 price tag, say industry watchers, could give Android a needed boost.

7. Android is headed into your living room. Tablets and smartphones aren’t the only places you’ll likely find Android in the future. Google has long eyed the living room as a hub for user interaction, and with its (planned) acquisition of Motorola Mobility—which has a highly hyped patent portfolio and the needed hardware—it’s better equipped to land there.

 

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