Why Blackberry, iPhone and others will outlast Google Android.
Over the past few years many people have touted to “amazing” benefits of Google’s Android mobile OS now found on dozens of phones across multiple carriers. Proponents of Android as a dominant phone OS have a kind of “assumption” that Google Android will bring other phones such as RIM’s Blackberry and Apple’s iPhone to their knees. They often cite “millions of Android phones sold” and “open source” as proof that other phones simply can’t compete.
But there are multiple reasons why Google Android is bad for the industry as a whole and will likely fail in a few years.
Open source can be bad –
This is great for computers and great for users who code, enjoy tweaking, can manage security on their systems, and enjoy really getting into the workings of their computers. For the average computer user and average cell phone users, open source means it can be exploited by viruses and malware, anyone can develop any software they want for it without an overseeing system ensuring the software is compatible and stable.
Closed systems can offer screening of applications and software updates and ensure a stable and consistent user experience. RIM’s Blackberry is a perfect early example of what happens when a company designs both the hardware and software. Apple’s iPhone is also a great example of how closed systems where hardware and software are developed and made by the same company.
Which brings us to the next reason Android is bad for the industry…
What happened to potential phones and mobile OSes that could have been better than Android?
Remember a few years ago cell phone handsets were made by manufacturers such as Motorola, LG, Samsung, HTC and Nokia. The software was a base software developed by the manufacturers or by a contracted company and “skins” were designed into the UI by the specific provider (carrier) selling the handsets. It was and continues to be the same concept that RIM and Apple use in developing both the hardware and software.
Look how many handset makers and carriers jumped on the Google Android, next big thing bandwagon likely abandoning other projects in the works. At first HTC made Google phones for T-Mobile. Suddenly multiple makers jumped onto the Google Android OS and before we knew it most phones today are running a free, open source, unproven operating system.
What happens when Android does fail? It’s almost certain that handset makers had updates to their phone UIs and OSes in the works until they suddenly switched to Android. Makers of phones and carriers will scramble to catch back up if Android ever did fail or have to end up selling only Blackberries and iPhones. It was foolish for makers to jump so quickly to adopt Android.
Which brings us to the next point which Google does seem willing to address…
Just like with Microsoft Windows on computers, Android is a single OS spread across many types of hardware, services, and designs. Google appears to have quickly lost control of the open source OS they unleashed allowing handset makers and carriers to tweak away to their hearts content, not considering limitations of both hardware and software. There is no standard for hardware which to base Android upon so we’re left with many underpowered phones that shouldn’t be running Android.
Instead of just one piece of hardware (like Blackberry or iPhone) for the OS to be designed for and run on, Android finds itself on dozens if not hundreds of different phones with different carriers, different hardware, different processors, and no consistency. In other words unlike phones of the past and Android’s current competition from Apple and RIM, Android phones are really any hardware put together, called a handset, and labeled as “Android powered.”
But what does this mean for the end user; you the consumer?
How many times have you had an application crash or freeze on Android phones? How often have you received the “Force Quit” or “Force quit process” error? How many of you own “Android powered” phones that are anything but powered and seem to lag under the load of Android because the phone hardware is underpowered? Perhaps many of you have not had these experiences and maybe you’ll be lucky to never have them.
But you rarely see this kind of inconsistency with iPhones and Blackberries. And rarely were these issues common across dozens of handsets and carriers back before Google Android came along. No phone is perfect, no software fail proof, and no carrier or handset maker infallible.
But the too rapid adoption of a mobile OS that wasn’t and still isn’t ready to be as big as it is could be a huge disappointment and blow to the mobile phone industry if it can’t reduce fragmentation, offer a standard OS for a set piece of hardware, and ensure more OS security.
Don’t believe Google Android will ultimately fail?
Google tried to launch a Nexus Google Android phone on its own allowing you the consumer to choose the carrier and buy it direct from Google. It was touted as a “pure Android” experience not tainted by carrier and handset makers’ own distortions of Google’s OS. That experiment failed too.