Why is Android Stalled?
As predictions stacked up late last year on what would happen with Google's open source Android platform, many observers--including ourselves--saw rosy things ahead. After all, the T-Mobile G1 phone was a relative hit in a mobile tech environment that could seemingly talk about nothing but the iPhone. Android applications have also mostly been slick and useful, with a thriving application marketplace. So why isn't Android showing up on more devices and claiming its rightful place in the mobile tech space? Is Google listening?
After attending the recent Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona--now the largest annual showcase for mobile technology--Fabrizio Capobianco, CEO of Funambol, noted this, regarding the lack of significant Android action:
"Android was a shocking no show. I was expecting a lot of Android devices, but they just were not there. The first day, HTC did not even have the G2. It showed up the second day (thankfully). The HTC Magic (G2) will be available this spring in the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, France and Italy. I have no idea if Android is just hard to put in a phone, or if there is something else. Last year was the year of Android announcements. This year was supposed the year of the phones actually showing up. It did not happen."
Of course, there are some interesting developments surrounding Android. We recently covered how Android is spreading out to netbooks and e-ink devices. I've predicted that Android may be more of a success on these platforms than on phones.
However, we're in the third month of 2009 now, with the largest of all global mobile technology conferences gone, and the amount of action surrounding Android that we here at OStatic, and others, expected just isn't happening yet. The HTC Magic (G2) phone, based on Android, won't even ship initially in the United States. Who made that decision?
While Microsoft has maintained a commanding lead in desktop operating systems for years, there is now a real opportunity for open source operating systems to get traction on mobile devices, and not just phones. This opportunity is similar to the one that existed on personal computer platforms in the late 1980s. Google should be striking more deals surrounding Android, funding applications, and supporting efforts to get it on new types of devices. Instead, mostly silence is being heard--while proprietary mobile platforms rapidly extend their reach.