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Have We Reached “Peak Android”?
Google should be happy that Android may have topped out.
Just as Google’s US search market share seems to have topped out at about 67 percent, Android’s global market share may also have peaked at 85 percent. So says hardware counter Strategy Analytics.
As quoted in the Wall Street Journal, a Strategy Analytics analyst opines, “Unless there is an unlikely collapse in rival Apple iPhone volumes in the future, Android is probably never going to go much above the 85 percent global market share ceiling.” Rival firm IDC similarly shows Google with a roughly 85 percent share of smartphones shipped in the most recent quarter.
While shipments are not equal to sales, I would submit Google doesn’t want its Android market share to go much higher. Any higher and the company would face the likely eventual wrath of regulators in Europe and elsewhere (except the US).
The Journal article points out that Google has made increasing efforts to consolidate Android and permit fewer manufacturer variations and “forked” versions. This benefits the company, platform and developers by reducing fragmentation. However it also brings Google closer to antitrust scrutiny.
Indeed there’s an Android antitrust investigation pending in Europe. And it would be easier to fashion Android-related remedies than it is to try and regulate search results.
Google’s argument against any potential Android regulation is that it’s an “open” platform and anyone can do anything they want with it. In fact the company has been working hard to control that among the top-tier Android OEMs with contracts that require pre-installation of Google apps and define the placement of those apps on the home screen. If you want access to Google Play you have to abide by these rules.
Source: Gartner 2014
Google is walking a fine line between exerting more control over its operating system and not so much that it’s vulnerable to antitrust arguments, given its market share dominance. According to Gartner Android devices will be nearly 4X as numerous as Windows devices by next year on a global basis.
Simply put, Android is the dominant computer operating system across the globe. That’s a remarkable accomplishment in only six or seven years.
The following is how StatCounter reports global internet traffic by platform (mobile and PC):
- Windows: 60 percent
- Android: 19 percent
- iOS: 13 percent
- Mac: 5 percent