American Marketer


Three reasons why Google’s Android is succeeding

December 9, 2010

Barry Latimer is technical director at 5th Finger


By Barry Latimer

The release of the Samsung’s Galaxy tablet and Sony’s Google TV are heralding in a new era in the mobile ecosystem – the Android Age.

These are just two examples of the surge in support for the Android platform over the last six months.

When you realize that these new devices will be supporting the Android Marketplace for applications and the fact that consumer interest in Android and actual Android sales are outpacing the iPhone in the last few months, the question becomes: Where is Android placed on your mobile applications strategy for 2011?

Biting into Apple’s share

Apple has dominated smartphone news since the release of the first iPhone in July 2007.

Backed by an extremely strong third-party applications market, Apple redefined what it meant to own a mobile phone and finally fulfilled the promise that every PDA manufacturer had been talking about for years.

For mobile marketers and brands, Apple created a unique way of engaging consumers using their most personal device – a mobile phone.

These days, whenever executives talk about mobile strategy they have to mention mobile applications, as iPhone applications have proved to be such a huge hit with consumers.

In the last three months, Google’s Android offering has started to bridge the gap that the Apple iPhone created in the market.

Recent U.S. sales indicate that consumers are now buying Android based phones in similar numbers as the iPhone 4.0.

In my view, Android has managed to succeed for three main reasons:

1. Open source: Manufacturers and carriers around the world have been able to customize the Android experience to match their needs. In the United States, this has resulted in Android based handsets being sold by every carrier.

2. Personalized: A mobile phone is a very personal device and its selection often reflects a consumer’s personal aesthetic, style and taste.

Ironically, from this point of view, Apple has created a 1984-esque situation with all their consumers becoming black iPhone drones.

Android has now given consumers the choice to have a bleeding-edge touch screen smartphone but whilst still being original in its choice of style, features and packaging.

3. Accessible: Every Android phone can be unique to the individual manufacturer’s vision.

Manufacturers are able to tailor phones to be accessible at every income bracket – something that cannot be said for the iPhone.

The next year is going to be huge for Android, with all pundits expecting the Android platform to start outselling the iPhone, if not the iOS platform as well.

The launch of multiple Android-based tablet products and Google TV will help to lift Android into becoming the most accessible and widely distributed lightweight operating system in the world.

With Android on such an accelerated growth curve, you really need to ask the question – what role does the Android platform play in your 2011/2012 mobile strategy?

Whatever you decide, be assured that in 2011 consumers are going to be looking for your brand not only in the iTunes App Store but also the Android Marketplace.

Barry Latimer is technical director at 5th Finger, San Francisco. Reach him at