This week NPD released a report which had some encouraging report for Google’s Android which had 28% market share this quarter with iPhone’s 21% and Google’s Nexus One with 10% in the US. Finally, Android powered phones like Droid from Motorola and Droid Incredible from HTC are making inroads into Apple’s iPhone market because of the combined effect of good phones and a good network. Many iPhone enthusiasts will argue that these comparisons are not real since one phone is being pitted against 18 Android phones but that is the topic for a different blog. The topic that I want to tackle in this blog is – Can Android do even better and if so what should Google do before it is too late? I have owned and played with Nokia N series phones, Blackberry, Google’s G1, N1, Droid Incredible and iPhone.
Here are things I think Google should do if it wants to be a true leader in this space
1) Reduce Fragmentation of Android
2) Build phone for the masses and not just for tech savvy consumers
3) Improve App Store Experience
4) Leave hardware sales to OEMs
Fragmentation = Too many versions, no defined minimum hardware spec, no defined minimum app set and incompatibilities across versions and vendors. Nokia is a prime example of a vendor whose customers and developers suffer everyday because of this issue while Apple enjoys almost zero fragmentation. Yes there is Linux but even that was organized by Redhat and couple of other vendors.
So, Google, please take a leadership role and put some discipline into various licensees, define and force some standards for the OEMs but maintain its open source, freely available advantages.
Build phone for the masses and not just for tech savvy consumers
I have used three generations of Android phones – G1, N1 and now HTC’s Incredible. Yes these phones are getting better with every release but Google needs to be improve Android’s usability for everyone. For doing most tasks, Android requires at least 2-3 times the number of clicks compared to an iPhone. Being a tech savvy consumer, it didn’t take me long to get used to Android phone and get almost spoiled by the customization it offers.
So, Google, please hire some great UI folks who can mask the complexity for average user while keeping the customization advantages.
Improve App Store Experience
With the sales of Android going up, developers are happy and ready to look over many of the disadvantages of App Store. Monetization possibilities brings developers but actual easy monetization will keep them there. There are many forums just discussing issues after issues like mobile only availability, currency issues, poor discovery, lack of ability to send app links in blogs and others.
So, Google, please improve usability of App Store and make it easier to discover content and monetize while keeping control to the minimum.
Leave hardware sales to OEMs
After looking at what amazing additions HTC has done with its new Incredible phone and how OEMs have managed to make Android phones available through all operators in the US and abroad, it is high time Google abandons its own hardware sales and instead concentrate on doing the best in software that it is capable of. Yes, it should promote all OEMs and especially ones that are most innovative.
So, Google, please leave the hardware sales and manufacturing to your OEMs while you promote them and help them be successful.
Google has built an incredible software platform in Android which can be exploited fully by various handset manufacturers. Google should exercise some control in reducing fragmentation, improving usability, improving App store experience and leave hardware innovation to the handset vendors.