Android Takes Over in 2011

We’ve said it before and, guess what? We’ll say it again. Diversity will win over product in the mobile wars. Why would you not believe us? You’ve seen it before. Think PC versus MAC for a minute. This in reality was operating system versus operating system.

PC has won that battle handily. Look, we are believers in making products that can be applied widely and not only on a choice few items. Apple lost the battle before it began when they made a mobile operating system that could only work on their line of products.

Sure, you do belong to an exclusive club when you own an iPhone or an iPad. The problem is that just by the nature of this club, limits are felt all around. Limits on forums, limits on support, tutorials, and ability to dominate the marketplace. The only advantage Apple exercises right now is in the applications marketplace, and that was gained through “seniority”, being around forever.

Here’s what Greg Sterling, a contributing editor at Search Engine Land, has to say about it.

Mar 29, 2011 at 12:56pm ET by Greg Sterling

Tech consulting firm IDC has predicted that Google’s mobile operating system will become the dominant mobile platform this year, achieving a global market share of 39.5 percent. The next in line would be former global leader Nokia with 20.9 percent. Apple comes in at 15.7 percent.

Windows Phones to Overtake Apple (via Nokia)

These figures are very aggressive in terms of Android’s share and Nokia’s decline. But they’re consistent with the remarkable growth that Android has enjoyed over the past year.

By 2015 IDC projects that Google will own 45.4 percent of the global smartphone market. The next largest player would be Windows with 20.9 percent — based on Nokia’s adoption of the Microsoft operating system. If that in fact happens Nokia and Microsoft’s gambit will have paid off.

Interestingly RIM (BlackBerry), just behind Apple at 14.9 percent this year, remains relatively stable through the forecast period, winding up with 13.7 percent of the global market in 2015.

I think these numbers are potentially problematic for the following reasons:

  • RIM is unlikely to be able to maintain its current position unless its next-generation OS (QNX) is radically better.
  • These numbers assume no lower-cost iPhones and only moderate success of the anticipated iPhone 5.
  • They also appear to assume Symbian’s share will simply transfer over to Windows (far from a given)

Windows Phones appear to be selling modestly well, though not in the US market. We’ll have to wait (until 2012 apparently) to see the outcome of the “Nokisoft” collaboration. Microsoft must continue to build its library of apps, which recently crossed the 10K threshold, to maximize its chances of success with Windows Phones.

Right now, in the absence of the Nokisoft phones, there no evidence that IDC’s Windows Phone market share prediction will come true.

Advertising Implications of Android’s Dominance

With a few exceptions Android devices are Google search devices and drive mobile search volumes accordingly. Google dominates mobile search today by a margin the size of the Pacific Ocean (according to StatCounter):

Recently investment firm Macquarie Group put out a research note (using Efficient Frontier data) that showed effectively 97 percent of the US mobile search spend was going to Google.

All of this is browser based search of course. And there are hundreds of millions of mobile queries coming through apps that almost nobody is tracking right now.

Yet Google is overwhelmingly the leader in mobile search share and associated revenue, far exceeding even its dominant position on the PC. In mobile display Google is also the revenue leader in the US, according to IDC — followed by Apple (with iAD) and then Millennial Media.

Too Much Success?

If IDC’s handset sales projections come true Google will continue to enjoy near-total dominance of browser-based mobile search ad revenue, which will run into the billions by 2015. (Google also enjoys search dominance on the iPhone as well.) Its ownership of AdMob will also give it a potentially dominant position in global display advertising on Android devices — though this is less assured.

At this point Android’s success has wildly exceeded Google’s most optimistic scenarios. In fact it’s so successful that Android is likely to become a target of regulatory and antitrust scrutiny at some point in the next couple of years.

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