Three reasons Android could terminate Apple

Best blogs of 2009 The smartphone market seems to be shoe-in: Apple has got momentum in the space reminiscent of their takeover of the MP3 player market years prior with the iPod. Despite this momentum, the discerning media planner working on mobile for six months out should take note – Google’s Android is poised to crash Apple’s party.

Android Clones: While the iPhone had Chinese imitation devices, Android will literally have a clone army. The open source system will live on a handful of devices by the end of this year, and dozens of devices by the end of 2010. So while the system seemed to languish when the only Android device was the G1, with phones like the HTC Hero and myTouch 3G, Android will traverse carrier networks and handset manufactures.

Specialized Versions: Android can be customized, and many of the handset manufactures are doing just this. HTC has built the Sense UI, Motorola is working on their Android-based UI “Blur.”  With the ability to customize the flavor of Android for devices, it creates a competitive marketplace among handsets to vie for custom features while expanding the overall Android market share. While the iPhone has to try to juggle between enterprise users, multimedia users, and social network users, Android can have a tailored version for phones segmented to each individual market niche.

Killer Apps: There’s been some controversy lately about Apple’s AppStore rejection policies. A number of Google applications were rejected from the phone. On one hand, this hurt Google’s ability to roll out those services, but it also gave Android a handful of killer apps. Google Voice is an extremely powerful concept – it allows users to unbridle their phone number from telecoms, using Google to route calls to a single number to any number of phones, do the same for text messages, and turn voicemails into text. If Google Voice routed to a VoIP service running on a carrier data network, it could overnight replace the need for voice and text message packages. Then Google Latitude is a location based social tool which allows location reporting to run in the background and send location data to contacts a user specifies. Each of these pack a ton of potential utility in a single application, which the iPhone doesn’t have.

Apple’s position in the market is too well rooted to be driven away without a very tough fight. But Android is very much poised to stifle the iPhone’s growth while extending its own roots. Keep an eye on the friendly green robot – behind that friendly guise he’s waiting patiently, and planning carefully.

Originally published on 10.01.09 in AdAge.