Smartphones

Android debate: Continued growth or stagnation ahead?

Android is showing signs of both continued momentum and trouble ahead. Join this week's Great Debate as we argue the future of Android.

Android continues to gobble up smartphone market share. It has now cleared over 40% in the U.S., according to both Gartner and IDC, and continues to siphon users away from other platforms worldwide, especially BlackBerry and Nokia. But, the Android ecosystem is also facing major challenges. During 2011, the codebase split between 2.3 (Gingerbread) for phones and 3.0 (Honeycomb) for tablets, Google announced its acquisition of Motorola which spooked other hardware partners, and some users have complained loudly about the inconsistent user experience and disappointing battery life. So, is Android on track to continue its momentum or could it falter and stagnate? That's the topic of a debate that I'll be moderating at 2:00PM Eastern on Tuesday, October 13.

This is part of the ZDNet series, The Great Debate, and here’s how it works. The moderator sets the topic. The two debaters make their opening statements. Then, we get together for a live one-hour discussion where I toss out questions and both of them have a few minutes to answer and respond to each other’s comments. At the end of the online chat, both of the debaters make a closing statement. Meanwhile, during the whole process, the audience gets an opportunity to vote for one side of the argument (and one debater) or the other, and can also join the discussion by leaving comments.

This week pits ZDNet mobile columnist James Kendrick against ZDNet editor in chief Larry Dignan and the question is "Android: Growth or Stagnation?" Some the questions we'll explore include:

  • Has Google proven itself to be a good ecosystem leader?
  • How is Google's purchase of Motorola going to affect the ecosystem?
  • How much loyalty does Android have?
  • Will Android continue to take market share from BlackBerry and Nokia?
  • Windows Phone 7 plays the same platform game as Android. Is it a threat?
  • Does the iPhone 4S open the door for more Android gains, or will it win over first generation Android users to Apple's side?
  • Is it fair to call Android an open ecosystem and do consumers care?

On Thursday morning I will name a winner of the debate. So, you can check back on the same page on Thursday to see who the official winner is (it may not be the same as the people’s choice).

About

Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).

17 comments
Slayer_
Slayer_

It might give developers a steady target to hit. I guess you could say, Google could try and pull a "windows XP" and leave it on the market so long that everyone has it. Everyone will eventually be running the latest, or close to it, version of android.

marthill
marthill

Android growth is already stagnating. Androids global sales growth rate dropped to 3 percent in the March 2011 quarter from 7.5 percent in the fourth quarter 2010 and 9.5 percent in the September 2010 quarter. CommScore reports Android growth in US smartphone marketshare (where Android growth has been strongest in the developed world to-date) has dropped to 1.9 percent July through to August. Android tablet marketshare has not just stagnated but is actually dropping, from 34% in Q1 to 26.8% in Q2 and is projected to plunge to 23.0% this quarter according to IDC. 550,000 Android smartphone, tablet and other device activations per day sounds great until you realise Apple averaged 622,000 iOS devices sold per day in the 45 days up to October 4th this year - and that was with the year-old iPhone 4.

JJFitz
JJFitz

not 2 PM Tuesday October 11th - right?

cbader
cbader

I know for me I love Android, but Im tired of two main issues: battery life and fragmentation. My HTC Thunderbolt is an amazing phone, I love the hardware, the look and feel are great. The problem is that I can barely get through an entire day on a single charge. Add that to the fact that for a relatively new and powerful phone Im still stuck using Froyo, or Android 2.2. By the time ICS is released I will be two versions behind. Would customers go out and buy the newest and greatest laptop with XP running on it simply because the manufacturer wouldnt let you load Win7, while hoping youll be lucky enough to upgrade to Vista by the time Win8 is released? Probably not. Also, Im partial to HTC hardware, and the Motorola deal doesnt give me the warm and fuzzies about the future of the Android platform on competitor devices. If/when Apple releases a 4G iPhone (Not giving up my unlimited Verizon 4G) I think Ill be switching unless a compelling reason to stick with Android comes up before my next upgrade eligibility date. On a side note, I hate the crapware. I do not use or would ever want that horrible Blockbuster app on my phone but I cant remove it. Dont have to worry about that the iPhone.

mike_patburgess
mike_patburgess

It appears from what I read that the techno-nerds are running the show when it come to the Android stuff (ie. Gingerbread, Honeycomb); what the heck is this and why would they name their operating systems like this. It appears that they do not have a sophisticated marketing staff which determines what to call something. Take a note guys.. History has shown us in the business, that when you let the techno-weenies run your company, naming things without purpose, such as these cutesy names for your operating systems, you won't be in business for very long. Put the technoids behind doors, throw some food under the doors regularly but never let them out to talk to anyone.

cbader
cbader

... They arent taking in to account the number of those Android activations that are being returned within 30 days.

radleym
radleym

You need to find a decent manufacturer with up-to-date software. You can always go the CM7 route (free gingerbread 2.3.7, available for most popular devices.) The very fact that CM7 exists is proof that the OS is available from Google - its the device manufacturers dropping the ball here. Would you buy aan XP PC on the basis that it.might oneday be upgraded to Win7, if the mfr feels like it?

JJFitz
JJFitz

Some tech companies use simple code names for their products to avoid copyright infringement. No one has a copyright on Android names such as Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Frozen Yogurt (Froyo), Gingerbread, Honeycomb, and Ice Cream Sandwich. Their official names are numeric: 1.5,1.6, 2.0, 2.2 ,2.3 ,3.0, 4.0 respectively Windows Mobile is called Mango. It is also version 7.5.

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

Android is a product made by geeks for geeks. It is also popular with people who respect geeks. I agree that the names are stupid but it's not surprising in this industry. Have you ever seen Intel's naming structure? Sandy Bridge? Larabee? I thought Wolfdale was a town from a D&D campaign. Using your logic then Intel certainly won't be around for long. They can't be a successfull company without a room full of overpaid chimps who specialize in coming up with names for products. You are also neglecting the fact that many people don't have a clue if they are running "gingerbread" or "icecream sandwich". The big names are the "Droid" or the "Nexus". These are names made for the actual devices that people purchase. Nobody says they bought a "honeycomb" phone just like nobody talks about buying a "gulftown" PC. Fire all of those marketing wonks and tell them to go get a real job.

JJFitz
JJFitz

That "news" came from a single source cited on TechCrunch and has not been confirmed. In fact, most people familiar with the smartphone industry argue that if the rates cited in this dubious report were true, no manufacturer would stay with the platform for so long yet we see new models released every week. http://www.businessinsider.com/android-returns-cant-be-30-40-2011-7

cbader
cbader

Its not only the manufacturers, but the carriers as well. HTC has to submit their build of Android, then Verizon adds their crap to it and tests, so on and so forth. Ive never had any interest in an Apple product before and have been very happy with Android up until this point, but I like having the current software with all the features. With iPhone I can download and install the new OS the day Apple releases it. With Android, its been a year since Google released the OS, is about to release another one, and Im still waiting. I cant just go get CM7, the Thunderbolt is one of the most locked down phones and I frankly dont want to go through what it takes to unlock the boot loader. No I wouldnt buy an XP laptop with the hope that one day the manufacturer might allow me to update the OS, but thats what we are doing with out phones....

yorro.a
yorro.a

A good analogy would be Android OS and Windows OS. Non-geeks also talk about buying a "Windows 7" PC. Its just that the Android versioning hasn't really made it into the mainstream yet.

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

These things just have nonsensical names. It's traditional - they're named like dog breeders' litters: by alphabet : Gingerbread Honeycomb Ice cream sandwich

JJFitz
JJFitz

My wife makes a delicious apricot tart. :)

AnsuGisalas
AnsuGisalas

Well Apple*Pi is how to calculate going in circles around the distance of apple... or something... ah, probably not. What else is sweet and begins with an A?

JJFitz
JJFitz

but my guess is Google would have avoided anything with "apple" in the name. :)

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