Google’s Android operating system (OS) is set to dominate the mobile market in 2014 with 1.1 billion shipments worldwide, according to research firm Gartner. As reported in a recent CNet article, this figure puts the Android device market well above second-place competitor Windows phone, which is projected to sell 359 million units in 2014, and Apple’s iOS and Mac OS, expected to move 344 million units. Google is on its way to having its OS installed on two billion devices worldwide. What’s the secret to this OS domination—and can Google keep it up?
“Volume Versus Value”
Gartner Analyst Annette Zimmerman sees the Apple/Google divide as “a volume versus value equation, with Android users also purchasing lower-cost devices compared to Apple users,” she said in a statement on the findings. The company Steve Jobs built made its fortunes providing unmatched design and uncompromising quality, but competitors are starting to catch up and offer similar functionality at a lower price.
Diversity is also a factor. Products in the iDevice line are shipped and sold by Apple, while Android device development extends to companies like LG, Sony, and Samsung in addition to Google. This works in the search giant’s favor not only because consumers get to choose their preferred manufacturer based on device performance and personal experience, but because they can then turn to Google proper if they want a smartphone that does not require a contract. In other words, Apple chooses to tap a specific market, while Google aims for every market.
Continuity or New Developments?
If Apple’s philosophy could be summed up in a word, it would be continuity. Devices running iOS have virtually identical interfaces of different sizes, with Apple betting on the strength of similarity to drive sales. Microsoft hopes for success with familiarity, and has made some strides forward despite being a latecomer to the mobile party.
By contrast, Google embraces diversity, relying on multiple partners to produce a host of devices all running the same operating system. If Garnter’s numbers are correct, Android will come out on top this year and continue strong into 2015, expanding its sales lead over both Microsoft and Apple. There is still room to grow, with Google working to bring older handsets around the world up to par with newer versions of their OS.
Will you be buying a new Android phone this year, or switching over from another OS?
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