Blog Post

Attack Of The Unstoppable Android?

A buzzy few days for Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and its mobile operation. The pace of growth for Android, as highlighted in Gartner’s Q3 smartphone report, has been pretty remarkable, starting from a piddling three percent in Q3 2009, to over a quarter of the market a year later. In an increasingly crowded smartphone market, Android was, in fact, the only smartphone platform that grew its market share this year. On the back of that news, Google and Android this week were on a roll…

— Android is appearing in all manner of phones, and in the months ahead we will most likely start adding more tablets into the mix, too. This week was about the Samsung Tab, which was launched in the U.S. by T-Mobile and Verizon (with AT&T (NYSE: T) and Sprint (NYSE: S) apparently soon to come too). This device has a seven-inch screen, but there are reports that there is a 10-inch model already in the works, too.

Another Google phone looks like it may be due out, too. Pictures of what is being referred to as the Nexus S (And why not Nexus Two? Did Samsung, who is allegedly making the device, want a little more brand credit?) were leaked on Endgadget yesterday, first when Best Buy mistakenly posted some pictures of it on its own site in a holiday promotion spot, and then when some further pictures of the same-looking device emerged. Google is not commenting.

Android updates: No release date yet for “Gingerbread,” reportedly the codename for the next version of the Android OS, but a confirmation that there will be new features added to the Market app store in the latest blog post from Google’s Android developers’ blog.

Fragmentation: There are some cracks here that might be worth watching. Given Android’s popularity with developers and consumers (and given that developing a phone on a virtually free OS is pretty compelling financially) the list of Android handset makers is growing longer and longer. That rising tide for Google’s, however, won’t necessarily lift all those boats.

One case in point: that fragmentation may be posing some problems for developers, who are effectively dealing with many different versions of Android when they write an app. The blog post referring to the Market update hints at the problems with that fragmentation: “There are a lot of different sizes and shapes and flavors of Android devices in the product pipeline, and you want your app available on every one that can possibly run it. So this is an area that is going to be requiring attention from developers on a continuing basis.”

And if your app isn’t showing up on every Android device, then the much-touted scale of Android suddenly becomes very lightweight.