Featured: Age of Android; Android's Lead May Be Insurmountable

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Androids growth in the last 90 days has been astounding

Android's rise was certainly not meteoric. Its growth over the last three months though, has proven to be nothing short of miraculous. Android has added 7 points to its market share in the last 60 days and that's not even the most astounding statistic. It took the Android OS two years to get to the 1 billion install mark. It then took Android another 5 months to get its second billion installations. Finally in the last 60 days android has added its third billion installs to the count. Those numbers are perhaps more telling than the 7 points of market share. The competition has not fared nearly as well.

In fact RIM producer of the Blackberry line, lost 5 points of market share in the same period of time Android saw 7 points of gain. Apple in the same period, saw a slight increase to it's overall market share but this increase was very slight. Slight enough to insinuate stagnation in it's growth. Microsoft lost nearly 1.5 % and has not had much success increasing it's market share. HP (Hewlett Packard) seems to have a problem with Palm, which was a noteworthy acquisition but holds a mere 2.8 % of the market a loss of a whole point in the last three months. Apple, Android's nearest competitor, actually cut production on certain models (cdma) of it's iphone 4 and delayed the June release of the iphone 5, certainly signs of trouble with the platform.

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Can the bug-droid be caught?

The bigger picture shows Android lead may in fact be insurmountable. Android now holds a full third of the smartphone market at 33% followed by RIM's 29 and Apple's 25. A closer inspection will show RIM's share continuing to plummet and Apple barely able to hold steady with their quarter of the Market. I've always believed some of the issues a lot of pundits claim Android has such as fragmentation have been overstated and now Google seems to be tightening the reins and steadying the course for its mobile OS. If the competitions numbers continue to fall at these rates developers will have no choice but to start producing more exclusively for Android. Those days are not as far away as some might hope as a quick look at releases for Android of late will show that though it has not been the favorite platform for developers they are begrudgingly coming over to the Android way of doing things.

The Tablet problem

Though Android hasn't fared nearly as well with tablets as it has with phones, the problems with Android tables are very clear and are quickly beginning to be fixed. Price is a major problem. Right now the Apple ipad is a far more affordable and functional option when considering a tablet purchase. This however is quickly changing. Android tablets are coming down in price and the best example of this has been the Asus Eepad. In fact the moment a tablet came on the market in the $400 range it was met with high demand. Much higher demand than Asus foresaw evidenced by the quick sale of the available supply. Asus has ramped up production to try to meet consumer demand and admittedly did not envision just how much consumers were desiring a functional and affordable Android tablet. To the issue of functionality Google has quickly responded with the release of Honeycomb 3.1. An update to the Honeycomb OS that has reportedly addresses a lot of the kinks in the initial release. Finally the lack of tablet optimized apps in the Android market is the most glaring hole in Google's plan for world domination. Google is making

steps to fix the problem and the thousands of tablets it handed out to developers at Google i/o was a great start.

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Android is continuing to grow at a pace that has to be alarming to its competition. Unless Apple changes the development cycle for iphone it will continue to be trumped with great Android phones. RIM seems to be taking a "if you can't beat them join them" approach with it's Playbook tablet's ability to run Android applications. Microsoft has formed an alliance with Nokia to try to get a handle on its Windows phone and may be able to salvage its mobile division. HP and Palm need to do something fast. Web OS is a great platform and a broader range of devices may be what they need to showcase this. Going the way of RIM with Android compatibility may be a good idea for them with their meager slice of the market they have to do something and fast to continue being a factor. One things for sure Android is not going anywhere despite the issues inherent with an open source platform it continues to thrive. All market analysis points to the Age of Android being a long and profitable one for Google. What do you think?