Android may yet fade away. As a platform it has several very large problems, all of which seem to be increasing as time goes by.
Android is under siege from Microsoft, Oracle and Apple (and others) who are aggressively attacking Android with patent infringement claims and licensing fees. Google recently expressed concern about the patent infringement threat to Android’s future viability.
Android’s much vaunted openness is gone as Google exercises selective censorship over apps in Android Market.
Android’s claims of delivering a level playing field is also a thing of the past as Google exercises control over who gets access to Android and when.
Android’s golden promise as a “write-once works-everywhere” solution has never been realized and is a pipe-dream – fragmentation across service providers and vendor devices will rapidly surpass Blackberry’s self-created fragmentation.
Android as a consistent and intuitive user experience has yet to be realized. There is wide variability in launch pages and app behaviour… even for the most simple elements of phone, home, menu, hang up, search and return buttons. Android is not an intuitive user experience and is not consistent across Android vendors or even devices within vendors.
Android does not appear to be working out very well for app developers in general – according to Distimo (May 2011) around 20% of the free apps available in the Android Market have not achieved 100 downloads, and the majority (51.8%) of free applications have been downloaded less than 1,000 times to date. More significantly, 80% of all paid applications have failed to get more than 100 downloads.
Vendors selling Android phones are not seeing profits – or brand loyalty – according to recent reports.
Android does not have strong consumer support among those that have purchased an Android device. Recent surveys find that among existing Android users – 42 percent planned to switch to an iPhone. For consumers planning to purchase a new smartphone, about 48 percent of those surveyed said they actually plan to buy an Apple iPhone.
Android does not have strong corporate support. iPad activations to Android Tablet activations were 30:1.
Android app discovery (i.e. finding apps) is a challenge, the Android Market is increasingly a garbage dump of poor quality apps and spam apps.
Android is not a secure platform and is the second most popular malware haven. It is remarkably easy for users to compromise their smartphones by installing malware apps or app add-ons. The platform itself has security holes that can expose personal data while accessing the web. And Android is susceptible to phising and malvertising. This is likely just the tip of the iceberg. Security is hard to get right…. that was and is one of RIM’s big strengths.
All of these problems for Android add up to a huge opportunity for HP WebOS, Microsoft Windows Phone 7 (and RIM QNX if they were to consider aggressively licensing it to other vendors)… to redefine the mobile playing field by attacking the many weaknesses of Android.