As much as we all love the little green robot that powers our smartphones, some are predicting that Google’s mobile OS has gone as far as it can. Their argument is that Android is ahead of the competition when it comes to innovation, but there’s really nowhere else to go. Yes, the people at Google could always improve the UI, add a few API’s for more social integration or boost the platform’s performance so that those 3D games run a bit smoother, but is that really innovation or is it tweaking?
Android is trapped in the innovators dilemma. They are leading the pack, they have the world at their feet, they can answer every question about their mobile operating system. Nothing can go wrong.Ewan SpenceForbes
Ewan Spence goes on to note how Apple dramatically switched things up with the iPod Mini, transforming it completely into the iPod Nano when the device was at the top of its game. I get what Ewan is trying to say, but there are key differences between a mobile OS and tangible product like an iPod.
For a better comparison that’s a little closer to home, we simply have to look at Microsoft and it’s push to the bottom of the market. For years, Windows Mobile was the most advanced mobile OS on the market. Nokia’s Symbian always had a leg up when it came to market share, but if you wanted something powerful and customizable, Windows Mobile was the way to go.
But along came Apple with iOS. At first Microsoft didn’t have anything to worry about since Windows Mobile was light years ahead of iOS when it came to features, but Apple introduced the notion that a smartphone didn’t have to be complicated and the masses certainly agreed. But Microsoft stuck with what they knew, until it was too late.
In order to get back into the game, Microsoft went back to the drawing board and came up with Windows Phone. The new OS scrapped the old “windows” look and feel for a user interface which was completely different from anything on the market. Since its introduction a little over a year ago, Windows Phone has not gained much momentum from OEMs, but that should dramatically change over the next few months now that Microsoft has secured Nokia in its corner.
But Android is a far cry from where Windows Mobile was a few years ago. Android is still leading innovation on the mobile front and should be able to keep the competition on its toes for the next few years. I’m not denying that Google needs to offer unique functionality in future Android updates, but I don’t believe that they need to wipe the slate clean and rethink the entire OS. Google has always been known as an innovator and we trust that the Android team will recognize when they need to change things up or even start something completely new in order to maintain market dominance.
Android 4.0 is a huge step forward for Android, delivering a more unified UI, improved multi-tasking and unique features like facial recognition and Android Beam. Is it enough to keep Microsoft and Apple at bay? Only time will tell, but I believe that Google has what it takes to make sure Android will always be at least one step ahead.
What do you think Google needs to deliver in future updates to make sure Android keeps its crown as king of the mobile OS?