Two years on since the launch of the first Android phone, the T-Mobile G1, Android’s popularity has grown exponentially.
Recent GfK Retail and Technology smartphone market reports have shown that Android marketshare for pay monthly handsets has increased by 13% between April and September this year, with Android market share reaching 29.4% in September 2010.1 And the Android phenomena is worldwide, with Gartner placing Android as the number three operating system in the US in its report this summer.
Ernest Doku, communications expert at uSwitch.com, said: “With positive word of mouth from real users proving crucial in its success, Google’s operating system has gone from niche to powerhouse in the smartphone sector, with an array of Android-powered handsets garnering both critical and commercial acclaim in recent months.
“As consumers find mobile phones increasingly integral to their daily lives, Android manages to be robust yet versatile in delivering those essential features, offering easy access to the mobile web, dedicated email functionality and all-important apps at its core.
“Its free, open source nature has also given manufacturers the freedom to build atop Android with a variety of custom interfaces and bespoke features, making the platform instrumental in bringing unique smartphone experiences to the masses, at appealing prices to boot.”
From the beginning, the benefits of the open source platform have been clear for manufacturers and developers, with more than 15 Android-powered smartphones launched in the UK alone since the T-Mobile G1, and globally, a total of 94 Android devices launched in 49 countries. The flexibility of the software has allowed manufacturers to put their own stamp on the phones and maximise the user experience.
Nicola Shenton, head of device marketing at T-Mobile, said: “When we launched the T-Mobile G1 we were really excited about being able to offer our customers a phone that was easy to personalise, had a great internet on your phone experience, and came with a multitude of apps. What the Android platform has managed to achieve in just two years however, goes beyond what we could have imagined.
“For me the most interesting changes we’ve seen come from having smartphones that are truly affordable to everyone. Having the internet, maps and GPS, an app to find a taxi, and a live Facebook widget in their pocket empowers people, making them braver, more willing to try new things, and making them feel more connected to their friends and to the wider community around them. For us, Android is about the ‘democratisation of smartphones’, the access and advantages that you get from a smartphone, finally available for the masses, rather than the privileged few. We will continue to support the growth of Android, driving innovation and offering our customers Android handsets at affordable prices.”
In fact, smartphones make people feel so bold, that research by T-Mobile and The Future Laboratory shows 43% of people believe getting lost will be a thing of the past thanks to their mobile, and a fifth admit they feel safer when they’ve got their phone with them. This is helping people explore new places, with almost one in five (19%) mobile users currently use their phone to find out information about their location when away from home. And as well as this feeling of freedom, the increase in the availability of more affordable smartphones means more people have access to information; out of those surveyed 22% believe that in 10 years time it will become impossible for anyone to be wrong as the right answer will always be at hand on their mobile phones.
For apps developers, the open source nature of Android, together with high-tech smartphone capabilities means they have been able to let their imaginations run free. The T-Mobile G1 was the first smartphone to combine an in-built GPS, accelerometer and compass, a combination that made applications based on augmented reality possible for the first time. The first augmented reality app to launch was Wikitude, from Mobilizy, which allows users to find out about a building or landmark’s history simply by holding a phone up to the building and looking through its camera.
The one thing to be sure about Android, said T-Mobile, is that it is here to stay, and it is slowly taking over; prepare for the Android invasion in rumoured tablets, netbooks, Blu Ray players, and even HD TVs.