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I don’t get to hear this so often. But when I do, I really try to reason and understand how it could happen. Despite my efforts, I haven’t been successful yet.

Is the demise of android possible? Yes. Remember why we don’t get to ride dinosaurs these days? yeah?. Shit happens, right? I think that dinosaur analogy is going pretty good with android. Android is pretty big right now and it’ll likely take an asteroid like blow to take it down. To hell with my knowledge about Dinos, that is pretty much all the way I can make with that analogy. (I’m using too much p-word. Pretty annoying eh?.)

Let’s get a bit serious about this. Android, reminds me a lot about windows. You read me right, Windows. Microsoft Windows. But why? Windows was essentially an open platform. Not as in ‘open’ we see on news these days. But open enough. People could make software for the system without getting in any walled gardens. And the system could be put on hardware that happened to be abundant.

Remember the rival of Windows? Hope you do. And I hope you can remember the restrictions it had those days. And we all know where each of the players ended up at the end of the OS war.

We can say that those golden days are more or less behind Microsoft. And some might argue that Microsoft is dying. But the shocking truth is, for Microsoft to go down with it’s main product, takes a loooooong way down the hills.

Can you relate that with the story of Android? Let me start with the least significant of all. Android’s rival in this mobile OS game happens to be… wait for it… just kidding, we all know it. But that is a fact only good for making cool jokes. But what’s the real deal?

Unlike it’s rival’s, Android’s eco-system is open. There is a marketplace governed by Google, but not as tight as the rival Apple happens^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hchose to do that. People can make software and distribute on their own, without any restrictions at all. This invites bad software in too but didn’t windows have that problem?

iOS comes on what is known as iPhone and iPhone only. One piece of hardware, very well done yeah, but still it’s just one piece of hardware. Android on the other hand, is put on wide range of different hardware by different manufacturers. Almost all phone manufacturers have their own android phone (Nokia? we’ll be there in a moment). Oh and did you know those crappy Chinese phone makers have discovered android?. The hardware can be junk but here is a market for that. Not so classy but market-share.

The open availability of android has opened doors to amazing things. Meizu the Android from China that would feature dual/quad core processors and this $80 Android phone from Kenya are just two random things I grabbed off the top of my head.

Unlike Windows, Android is open as in ‘open’ we hear in news these days. And that has opened doors to other amazing things too. Cyanogen mod and plethora of android ports to different hardware platforms show how good is it to be that open.

Let us move on to other possible reasons that can lead to the sudden death of android (or even iOS). The other players in the game. Let me try to list them in the order of effectiveness. Windows phone 7, BadaOS, Symbian, Meego and webOS. The last two went down in relevance respectively due to Elop’s decision of making Nokia sleep with Microsoft and Apotheker’s decision of making Hurd’s brain child not seeing light. Symbian will face only slightly better fate than that of Meego. Bada will have to be side by side with android, in Samsung.

That brings us to Windows phone 7. WP7 cut a deal good for them with great hardware maker Nokia. It’s known to have an OK like user interface. Also known to have an ambitious launch parade completed with drama’s of iPhone’s death. But come to think of it, we still didn’t get many real phones out with WP7 on it. No Nokias with WP7 yet. But let’s forget that and think of the ones that are actually there. Not enough to kill iPhone or Android I guess.

I, for a don’t-really-like-MS guy, was really enthusiastic about WP7. Not because anything but I loved to see more competition in the space. But did it make a dent in the graph? I don’t think so. And what kind of an application eco-system it has?. I honestly haven’t heard much of one. BTW check this piece of news saying windows phone market-share being down by 38% since WP7 launch. Doesn’t sound like the android/iPhone killer.

And now about patents. This seems to be the only thing that makes android haters sleep at night. Oracle blew the one giant asteroid like blow on android with Java patents. Or did they?

Anyone in software industry knows how sweet software patents really are. Apparently there has been a lot of hullabaloo about patents in the UK and the rest of the Europe. Also in the US, current economic crisis has kindled rounds of discussions about how patents are crippling innovation. Even with all that, new regulations coming in and taking the pain that is patents away forever, for good is only as probable as  Oracle’s big bad bloody brutal blow on Android actually killing it over night.

I haven’t had the scoop of inside news on the progress of Oracle-Google legal battle, heck I didn’t see any worthy news item regarding that blinking on radar after this. According to that, some judge somewhere with some sense had ruled the number of claims Oracle has against Google down to 3 all the way from 132. Yes 3 patents is still a lot given the fact that there can be the single patent that is the big fucking deal. Anyway this more recent news item says bit of a different story. And we are apparently not likely  to see much of an improvement in the case any soon. With all that in mind, I’d say that I don’t see much of a chance for Oracle’s legal actions against Android will be anything like the asteroid were to dinosaurs. I’m not good at predictions but we’ll definitely find out in the years to come.

So the demise of android still seems far from reality. An the other thing is even if it goes down, it has to go a loooong way down.

4 Comments

  1. Nice write up. You had me going after that title. :)
    I too was a little worried about the android demise after the Oracle law suit. Nothing else. (You know oracle being a giant and it being a real pain in the ass regarding these patent issues.)
    But the thing I forgot was that android is GOOGLE’s child. And it will not stand there and watch it’s child die. So it’s pretty much going to be a war against google when it comes to something like that.
    Android is going to go a long way. Definitely will according to the current trend and as long as there are new developers developing for the platform everyday. I think there will be android developer jobs here in sri lanka that has high salary scales. (Currently there are.. except for the salary thing)

    And keep up the good work! :)

  2. Its not that easy for a software product to get “loved” by the public these days mostly because of the competition, but when they like something it tends to be their favorite for a long time. Just because they picked that instead of all its competitors, like picking Android phones from WP7, IOS, Symbian..etc based phones. But in the ‘ol days it wasn’t like that, there were at max only to major competitors doing the same type of products, there’s less to choose from. And software and hardware were kind of tightly coupled, I’m sure they didn’t builds for i386, armel, ppc(or what ever existed back then) separately you buy the product and you can’t decide much about it other than buying it or not. Things have gone from that to people rooting their phones trying to run custom Linuxes, and what happened to the PS3 is similar too. OSS is a tough strategy to defeat IF done properly by doing properly I mean exactly that there should NOT be too much freedom. Freedom is fun, cool, trendy but hell it makes a lot of products do the same thing and the developers who can do a single project more successfully divide between projects of same type. IMHO this is useless. Android doesn’t have this it may get forked but Google insists that the majority will be with them and they’ll to anything to keep the devs with them. If its ever to face demise, it won’t be anytime soon. IMHO Nokia is heading for a big flat rock to bang its head on, they dumped Qt for WP7, I let readers decide.

  3. I’m still a little bummed about how Nakia abandoned MeeGo. MeeGo lives on as probably the most open mobile OS. But apart from the one-time N9, its presence in handset market so far seems non-existent. I still believe an Open mobile platform matters and Android is the next best in line. Projects like Cyanogen and MIUI provide alternative flavours. They also bring the latest and greatest of features to devices which aren’t lucky enough to get vendor updates. Overall, after saying “wait and see” during the 1st year (or so) of Android existence to people who preached that it’ll be a flop, I’m really happy to see how far the Android eco-system has come. Anyway, nice writeup and long live Android!

    PS: But still looking at N9 I wonder, why on earth did Nokia need anything less than MeeGo? :P

    • @gaveen “Something less than Meego” LOL!


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