Tuesday, 3 August 2010

The Google/Android slayer?

It wasn't so long ago that the hype in the smartphone market was on Google, its Android mobile operating system, and a range of Google phone handsets. Well it seems like the latter was a relative flash in the pan. It seems from this article as if Google has sold its last smartphone in its homeland USA, and that the remainder will be carrier-branded phones in some other countries of the world. This seems to be a step backwards for the search giant, a sign which its rival in that space Apple will have noticed. The latter's iPhone 4 is still selling like hot cakes as fast as they can be manufactured in an increasing number of geographies, despite some froth and bubble in the media about antennas.

So for Google, if it's not phone hardware that they are going to take over the world with, what of the Android weaponry? Well, there is another problem showing in the numbers associated with app development on the platform. Android will only be successful if there are quality apps available that rival competitors systems such as iOS. Unfortunately, what the numbers show is that the unprotected, insecure, laissez-faire approach of Android is actually putting off developers from writing new apps, since they can increasingly be pirated and any royalty or developer fee cancelled out. This is particularly a problem since Android specifically appeals to the hobbiest, experimenter, techy-minded market of users, who are more likely to try out hacks than pro or non-tech savvy consumers who just want quality apps that just work. There have also been stories recently of Android apps accessing and passing on user data to third parties. However since the Android app store is relatively unregulated, no-one is going to do anything to protect users against this type of hidden privacy violation. And for the same reason, there is still the possibility that a rather nasty virus or similarly infected app could appear in the Android marketplace and have a devastating effect for Android users. Google may be exiting the hardware market but its name is still very much associated with the system on an increasing number of carriers' handsets, with all the responsibility that goes with that.

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