According to a survey conducted by respected analysts nielsen in Q3 2011, UK consumers are more likely to choose Android over Apple, BlackBerry, Symbian or Windows phone. Amongst 1600 UK residents that took part in the survey, 44% chose Android as their OS of choice when acquiring their handset, with BlackBerry taking a 25% monopoly and Apple surprisingly managing just 18% of overall sales. However, this is just part of the rose-tinted picture, and in no way ensures Android’s lucrative future as king of the mobile tech war.
It’s easy to see on the surface why Android accounts for almost half of all smartphone sales. Diversity is key, with entry-level, mid-range and high-end handsets to choose from. In cash strapped Britain it helps that you can therefore get a handful of change from £100 and have a slice of up-to-date mobile technology in your pocket to show for it.
However, diversity, or fragmentation as it’s better known in the Android community, is also the very thing that could topple Android from its golden throne. The main bone of contention amongst Android users is the Android OS updates that may or may not be supported by a particular phone, carrier or manufacturer.
As of today there are a vast amount of people waiting in an infinite virtual queue for their phones to be upgraded to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). An upgrade that may or may not materialise. An upgrade that is designed to go some way towards rectifying the whole fragmentation issue, to bring phones and tablets together and allow Android developers an easier time. Android 5.0 (Jellybean) is just around the corner and there are phones and tablets still being released with Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) still in play, with often empty promises to offer upgrades ‘very soon’.
So many Android phones are churned out by the giants of Android mobile technology on what seems to be an almost daily basis that quantity seems to override quality, and leaves disgruntled consumers with a heap of useless metal that is not able to utilise large amounts of Android apps as it simply isn’t equipped. Of course this situation isn’t helped by the fact that so many Android handsets are released with ‘last year’/outdated and useless specifications.
It’s no surprise therefore to hear that Apple, despite only taking 18% of sales, is light-years ahead in terms of customer satisfaction, with 86% being ‘highly satisfied’ compared to 72% of other smartphone owners. Apple know their line of business well, thanks to the late Steve Jobs, and it isn’t prepared to compromise on quality, preferring to concentrate on only a small number of devices, and learning from their mistakes when they do get it wrong.
Apple phones, although not open in the same was as Google Android, offer users a very intuitive and smooth experience, and the range of accessories is immense due to the consistency of the devices. Whatever you could possibly want for your Apple iPhone, you can be sure that they stock it.
Then there is the issue of App developers incomes. Monetizing Android apps is nigh on impossible, or at the very least extremely difficult, whereas Apple users are already customised in the art of paying for their games/music/videos, with an incredible 42% paying for apps each month compared to a paltry15% of Android users.
Despite all of my misgivings, of which this article has simply touched the surface, I am very devoted to Google Android mobile technology and would hate to see fragmentation become the death of it. Of course only time will tell, but the lessons that need to be learnt and acted upon are the key to longevity.