Android launch: don't expect iPhone-like lines

The first Android phone, expected to be introduced on Tuesday, probably won't create the same excitement as the iPhone.

Tuesday marks the long-awaited introduction for US customers of the first phone running Google's Android software, but some experts warn phone users not to get their hopes up too high.

T-Mobile's launch of the Dream -- a phone made by HTC and the first on the market to run Google's Android software -- likely won't be accompanied by the mad rush that surrounded Apple's introduction of the iPhone.

"Any launch short of the iPhone launch is going to seem small, so I think it's incumbent upon us to recognize that it doesn't get like that very often," said Bill Hughes, an analyst at In Stat. In fact, the hysteria surrounding the iPhone launch is likely never to be replicated in the mobile-phone world, he said.

Researchers from Strategy Analytics are predicting that 0.4 million Android phones will sell in the fourth quarter this year, making up 4 percent of the smartphone market share in the U.S. In comparison, Apple sold 1.12 million iPhones in the first quarter the phone was on the market, although the iPhone was for sale for a full three months and the Android phone will only likely sell for two months before the end of the year. While T-Mobile is planning a launch event on Tuesday, the phone is not expected to become available until as late as the end of October.

Still, even if sales of the first Android device are lower than the iPhone, the Android phone is notable for a few reasons: it's Google's serious entry into the mobile-phone market, it accompanies a shift in the mobile-phone market toward openness and it adds yet another platform in an already crowded mobile operating system market.

While Google already offers applications for mobile phones, designing an operating system allows it to more leeway in the types of applications it can offer. The company has complained about the difficulties working in the wireless industry, where operators often serve as gatekeepers to which applications users can download and use. Operators can also prevent applications that use certain phone capabilities, such as GPS (Global Positioning System) or VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol). With Android, Google can design and offer essentially any kind of application.

"We expect Android will eventually offer a compelling range of mobile applications emphasizing Google's online assets, such as advertising, mapping and search," Neil Mawston, director at Strategy Analytics, wrote in a report released Friday.

But because Android is one of many incompatible mobile operating systems, its emergence won't necessarily lead to an influx of new mobile applications.

In addition to Android, developers are also interested in building applications for Symbian, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, LiMo and the iPhone. None of those operating systems is compatible, so applications don't inherently work on phones running the different software.

Developers simply don't have enough time to target all of the operating system. "The reality is that there are only so many applications developers at any given time with a finite set of resources," Hughes wrote in a recent report.

"They're looking for the platform with the largest audience," said Eric John, director of marketing for Forum Nokia, in a recent interview. Symbian, which runs Nokia's smart phones, has the biggest market share of any operating system around the world, although only a small share in the U.S.

Android does appear to have attracted a healthy group of developers, who will be able to distribute their applications in a store hosted by Google.

But Android has also come under fire from some developers who claim that Google has not been forthcoming enough about the progress of updates to the software development kit. Some developers were also dismayed recently to discover that Google had offered the 50 winners of a contest an updated version of the software, while other developers continued to use a buggy, older version.

While the volume and quality of applications may yet be uncertain, Android surely is notable as yet another open mobile operating system. Symbian recently announced that it will open source the operating system and the LiMo Foundation has developed an open Linux-based mobile platform.

There is an "undeniable trend toward openness," said Andrew Shikiar, director of global marketing for the LiMo Foundation.

Perhaps, but it's unlikely that every platform, including those from Microsoft, Research In Motion and Apple, will open up. It's all relative anyway, said Hughes. "A cynic would say the open movement is more of a political slash marketing move than a profound shift," he said. "Probably, knowing the wireless industry in the U.S., it will end up more open than it was, but it's never going to live up to some people's ideals of what openness should be."

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags htcAndroid

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Nancy Gohring

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?