With the pre-release of LiveCode for Android deployment pack available to purchase now, Mark Taoilinn, RunRev marketing and communications analyst, examines the meteoric rise of Android and shows you why it's so important to get behind it.
Android’s recent momentum has captivated the mobile industry; worrying competitors, fascinating analysts and inspiring developers. Taking a quick look at the statistics it’s easy to see why: Android is now available on over 170 devices, through 169 carriers in 69 countries worldwide. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt announced at the Mobile World Conference last week that they are seeing more than 300,000 new activations per day. It's easy to get lost in figures like these so let me illustrate by giving an example: assuming Android were to launch on Christmas day as a completely new platform and given those daily sales, every high-school kid in America would have a brand new phone or device, powered by Android, in time to text their sweetheart on Valentine's day. It really is phenomenal growth. Recent data by research company Canalys confirms that the growth rate was so strong, Google out-sold both Symbian and iPhone to claim the top spot on the worldwide smart phone market in Q4 2010. The rumours are true, Android has set its sights on world domination in 2011.
The trip to the top has been astoundingly fast for Android. First announced in November 2007 as an Open Software, Open Device, Open Eco-system it was quickly embraced by the OEM, mobile operator and developer communities. "Its launch timing was really opportune," Pete Cunninham of Canalys told StrategyEye; "vendors were looking for a platform to compete with the iPhone and neither Symbian nor Windows Mobile offered that." The first Android powered device became available in October 2008. By the end of its first year Android already had 7% market share. Just one year later the open source model was really paying dividends - Android catapulted to market leader with 33% of all new mobile devices sold in Q4 2010 running the Android platform.
It's on the app battleground that the 'ecosystem' campaign will be lost or won for developers. Again historic figures show that Android geared up early and came out to win. At the end of Q3 2010 Android had the second lowest share of the smart phone market but had already built up the second highest number of apps available in their app store. Early indications are that developer might was backing the Android knight.
"In the last two years, a mindshare migration has taken place for mobile developers away from the incumbent platforms Symbian, Java ME and Windows Phone, while a substantial number of PC software developers have flocked to iPhone and Android," says Andreas Constantinou of the Vision Mobile blog. Data from the 'Mobile Development Economics 2010' Report, co-written by Constantinou, shows that in early 2010 60% of developers were already using the Android platform, ahead of iOS at 50% and far ahead of market leader Symbian.
But what motivates a developer to swap sides and prefer another platform? The two key factors, according to Constantinou, are: Market Penetration and Revenue Potential. Let's start with market penetration. In the device market we've already seen that Android is gaining considerable ground. If they continue to grow at anything like the impressive 888% growth for 2010 reported by Gartner research then it’s clear that Android, and not Apple, will soon dominate the Mobile Device Market. It won't just be American high school kids texting their sweethearts on an Android phone; Android may soon be the number one method for connecting with loved ones the world over.
The real challenge now for developers is to realize the revenue potential of the shared Ecosystem they are helping to build. For developers this means capitalizing on the communications infrastructure being handed to them by Google by selling great apps. At first glance it would appear that in this area Android is still in its infancy. Apple has only twice the number of apps in its store than Android but when it comes to revenue Apple is leaps and bound over its competitor: the Android Market accounted for less than 5%, by revenue, of the Global apps market in 2010, compared with Apple's staggering 83% share.
Once again though the Google momentum is set to hit the app world: year on year revenue increases for the Android App Market were 861% in 2010. All indications are that this crucial revenue growth rate is set to continue: paid apps on the Android Market increased from 22% of total apps in August 2010 to 34% in February 2011; there is a clear restructuring of Android pricing points; the proportion of lower value apps costing less than $0.99 fell from 61% in August 2010 to only 37% six months later; and there is a significant growth in the $1.99 - $2.99 and the $3 - $3.99 segments (Source App Genome Report).
"We're very excited to bring developers the tools to allow them shares in the Android success story", commented Kevin Miller, RunRev CEO. The number of apps available on the rapidly growing Android store is expected to surpass iOS by mid 2012. In the 6 months that the App Genome Report looked at there were 44,000 new app developers on iOS but only 4,000 on Android. Miller went on to say: "Of course these figures also show that iOS remains a strong and vital Mobile platform. What this all means is that having a cross device app development strategy is hugely beneficial to Mobile developers, and we're thrilled that we can bring you exactly that with LiveCode Mobile, first for iOS and now for Android."
"There’s a point of volume and growth that occur in an industry," Eric Schmidt said at MWC last week, "and they become the defining products in that space. That time is upon us, right here, right now." And he's right, Android are stepping up to define the mobile device market, shaping the direction the market will take in the future. Are you ready to be a part of that?