It is widely agreed that increasing demand for Android mobiles is largely behind the huge growth being experienced by the smartphone market this year. ABI research has forecast that 45% of the smartphone market will belong to the little green robot by 2016, while Gartner put the figure at 49.2% by the end of 2012. According to their prediction, Apple's iOS will languish in second place with a comparitively paltry 18.9%.
The press have recently been quick to seize on Android ownership outpacing iOS, with 28 per cent of smartphone users using phones based on Google's OS versus 26 per cent for Apple's.
Android's predicted gains come as a loss to the majority of other brands, with Apple's iOS, Research in Motion's BlackBerry OS, Nokia's seemingly doomed Symbian, and other mobile platforms all losing market share to Google. The only other company predicted to gain share next year is Microsoft - likely helped by its recent partnership with Nokia. Gartner expect Nokia's decision in February to move from Symbian to Microsoft's Windows Phone to boost Windows Phone market share to 11% next year and 20% in 2015.
However this does not mean that Apple’s bottom line will suffer. The analysts predict that even with 20% of the market, the iPhone will net Apple more money than Google gets from Android. Piper Jaffray estimates that Google will make $1.35 billion in revenue from Android in 2012, whereas Apple made $1.5 billion in revenue from iPhone in just the first quarter of this year.
But all is not well with Android. News emerged this week that the popular music streaming website Grooveshark’s app was removed over the weekend from Google’s Android Market amid cries of copyright infringement from the Recording Industry Association of America.
Grooveshark are shocked by the snub as the company claims it does abide by DMCA regulation. "Google notified us on Saturday that it had removed our app from the Market," Grooveshark's Ben Westermann-Clark told Wired in an interview, "but frankly, we're baffled by this. We're always compliant with DMCA regulations to make sure that we operate within the law and respect the wishes of content owners." Grooveshark also reminded Google that Android is an app ecosystem, and the company issued this statement:
"Unlike Apple's iPhone ecosystem, Android is an open platform, and Google is traditionally a supporter of DMCA-compliant services -- indeed, Google itself relies on the DMCA for the very same protection that Grooveshark does."
Unlike Apple, Android has no vetting process for the apps that are submitted to the market. However, Google has removed apps from the market and even remotely deleted them from customers' phones when it has adjuged apps to have been malicious or misrepresented themselves.
Google is hitting back at accusations that Android is not so open after all. Google’s Andy Rubin blogs that Android is as open as ever, despite accusations. Writing on the Android Developers blog, Rubin says “recently, there’s been a lot of misinformation in the press about Android and Google’s role in supporting the ecosystem. I’m writing in the spirit of transparency and in an attempt to set the record straight”.
He insists that since the launch of the first Android device, in 2008, Google has been “committed to fostering the development of an open platform for the mobile industry and beyond”. The implication, of course, is that this openness is in contrast to the approach of rivals such as Apple. The competition is heating up, and this can only be good for the consumer. May the best operating system win.