One year on, Android's not quite there yet

Google's phone software hasn't yet lived up to lofty expectations, but it could take off in just a few more months

2009: The Year of the Android Invasion? Not quite.

2009: The Year of the Android Invasion? Not quite.

Google has posted an Android road map online, but the page has only brief information and is updated rarely.

For its part, Google talks as though it is as committed to the phone as ever. "Android has surpassed my expectations," Erick Tseng, lead product manager for Android, said via e-mail. He said he's looking forward to the next year with the launch of new phones and some "truly mind-blowing applications."

Both T-Mobile and Google said they're happy with Android's progress so far. T-Mobile called the G1 "a resounding success."

Android has largely followed in the iPhone's footsteps, rather than setting new trends, but it has contributed at least one significant innovation.

"It's one of the few truly open platforms for developers," said Howe. "If you're someone who wants to reinvent the actual phone-calling experience, in some ways it's the only game in town."

Android may have attracted developers for precisely that reason, but developers have also expressed widespread discontent. Some have complained that aspects of the Android Market discourage application sales.

In addition, the openness of the platform could turn out to be a weakness. "The question is, if it offers this much freedom, how do you prevent it from becoming fragmented?" Gartenberg said. For example, if different vendors alter Android for their own phones, applications may not run across all the different devices.

Google will have to do more than simply deliver an open platform, he said. "At the end of the day, it's going to be what Google can do to drive innovation beyond being open," he said.

The real test for Android will arrive in the coming months. "If it weren't exactly one year, but one year and three months, the question [of whether Android has lived up to expectations] would be easier to answer," Howe said.

That's because he expects at least six, and possibly a dozen, new Android phones to hit the market by the end of the year. Samsung, HTC and LG all could have introduced new phones by then.

Motorola's Cliq should also arrive by year's end. That could provide the first example of Android's true potential, because Motorola has customized the software with a new user interface that highlights social networking.

"All of a sudden it looks like a different phone" compared to the existing Android devices, Howe said.

The new models will be offered by other operators as well, with Sprint-Nextel and possibly other operators expected to sell them.

With more phones and more operators, millions of Android devices are likely to be in the market in 2010, a big enough base to attract even more developers, and thus more and better applications, Howe said.

While Android's influence in the mobile market remains to be determined, the platform has made one thing clear: "If nothing else, it's validating the idea that touch-based smartphones are going to be a new category," Howe said.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags smartphonesGoogleAndroidiPhoneGoogle Androidanniversaries

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 Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers


This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang


It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries


As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr


The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?