Why Google Android can’t compete with Apple’s iPhone

“There’s an inherent flaw in Google Inc.’s Android operating system,” David Zeiler writes for Money Morning. “The flaw isn’t a technical glitch… The biggest flaw is fragmentation and it will be what prevents Google from defeating Apple Inc.’s iPhone in the mobile computing wars.”

“There are simply too many versions of Android running on too many (over 1,400) different pieces of hardware. And the issue gets worse with each new version of Android, as older devices are rarely updated,” Zeiler writes. “That’s a huge problem for Android developers, who need to write apps that will work on a bewildering array of possible configurations. And it’s starting to have an impact.”

Zeiler writes, “According to Appcelerator’s most recent quarterly survey of developers, interest in writing apps for Android phones fell 4.7 percentage points to 78.6%, and interest in writing apps for Android tablets fell 2.2 percentage points to 65.9%. By comparison, 89% of developers were interested in writing apps for Apple’s iOS, a number that has remained steady… Making matters worse for developers is that Android users tend to spend less money on apps than owners of Apple devices. According to a report last year by Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster, the Google Android Market (recently renamed Google Play) generated just 7% of the revenue of Apple’s iTunes App Store.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

25 Comments

  1. Business IT simply won’t put up with this kind of haphazard approach to OS and hardware integration (or lack thereof).

    When you hear about companies like Lowe’s buying 40,000 iPhones, you realize the game is completely over for anyone else in the mobile space for the next decade.

  2. Fragmentation is a part. Google doesn’t care anymore. They care about tracking people and ads, which is their commodity and paycheck. Privacy laws and issues are interfering with the very intent of their creation of the Android system. They have little to gain from it now, even if they were given free licenses on patents, they can’t track or sell the consumer information, their whole intent behind the android OS.

    1. Droid Lovers see fragmentation as a feature. They want choice and they claim, the more choice the better. To me, 1400 devices seems to be too much choice. Why average consumers and Droid Lovers see this as a good thing, I have no idea. There should be no more than 100 variations of Android smartphones at any one time. They’re all very much similar, anyway. There’s really too much competition for more than a couple of companies to make profits from Android. Google should have put a limit on about 20 major partners for devices running Android and definitely should have had stricter rules regarding hardware and skins. Having any old vendor building Android smartphones seems to be suicide for the platform.

      I also agree that Google doesn’t care anymore and eventually it will probably wash its hands of Android development and leave it to the open source community. Once Android’s rapid market share growth cools, the platform won’t even be able to support itself. It just seems so financially inept to have such huge market share and almost no profits.

    2. Google never did care.
      In any forum I visit, I remind Apple haters that Google is in this for one reason only: Ad revenue.
      They created Android and G+ for no other reason than to gather more information. Sooner or later people will get tired of being tracked.

      With Google the ad companies are the customer and YOU are the product.

  3. I agree.

    I have been using Android phones for some time now, but will definitely switch when the 4G LTE iPhone comes out. My daughters and wife have already switched, all using iphone 4S models. We also have an iPad 2 in the household.

    There are some tech points I like ablut the Android, most notably a file system where data files are not stored with linked applications, and widgets. Otherwise, the iPhone and iPad win hands down. Stability and smooth, fast operation are lightyears ahead of the Androids.

    My first Android was an HTC Eris. When VZW stopped supporting it, I went to the developer community for OS updates. When I needed something with more memory and more speed (the multitasking capability of Droids is a two-edge sword, nice feature but apps constantly come alive and waste memory resources, causing the user to resort to drastic measures). I now use an HTC Incredible, which is also unsupported and running under developer (hacker) community OS upgrades.

    Which leave me to fragmentation. It is really a mess, and this is before you consider all the hacker community flavors of OS, attempting to port from a supported phone to an unsupported one, with the hackers trying their best to accomodate all the differences in hardware.

    Using my wife’s 4S is a breath of fresh air, and my turn is within sight. I’ll do the world a service and bury the HTC phones in a hazmat site somewhere.

    1. Definitely agree about the centralized file system. I’ve said before, some type of simple file management means iPad can be a complete replacement for a PC. Apple has been untethering iOS from a computer with OTA updates and activation w/o iTunes.

    2. Don’t bury the HTCs, do something creative: Send them bungee jumping without the bungee, driving down the freeway without a car, etc. And of course, be sure to video it with your iPhone.

      1. I donate all my old cell phones to a local battered women’s shelter. They pop in new sims and give the devices a second life and a person in need a real life line!

    3. I agree and have had similar experiences.

      There are some excellent aspects to Android but the fragmentation is the killer in the end.

      Even now there are not that many Android 4 devices on the market even! ICS is actually a really nice release yet most people won’t be able to run it without a new hardware purchase.

      I bet when Android 5 ships you’ll still see the vast majority of phones running Gingerbread. Android 4 (ICS) will be almost a skipped version for most people.

      Basically if you buy an Android device just plan on being stuck with the version of Android the device shipped with. You can upgrade when you buy a new phone in 2 years lol. At least that way you won’t be as disappointed!

      1. Android devices can be bought from anywhere between $70 all the way to $700 (these are no-contract, no-subsidy prices; compare them to iPhones at $450 for 3GS, to $650 for base 4S model). They all come with Android and user expectation is that Android is Android. The problem is, unless you pay upwards of $400 (unsubsidised), you’re getting incredibly poor performance.

        I have one of those cheapo pre-paid Androids (Optimus V on Virgin Mobile). It is a $130 phone, running two-year old version of Android (FroYo). This particular model can still be bought new (as Optimus V, Optimus T, Optimus S… depending oncarrier). They will NEVER update the OS, not even to 2.3 (Gingerbread). The phone is severely anemic, with very little built-in storage. In order to get any meaningful use out of mine, I had to install several third-party apps that manage apps (killing unused services, such as BT, WiFi, 3G, GPS, when not in use), or to move apps over onto the SD card (FroYo can’t do that without outside help). Unfortunately, some apps cannot be moved over to SD card. Why? Impossible to know… Further yet, even with all my apps on SD card (I simply deleted the unmovable ones and made my peace with that), I’m already running out of storage on the main memory, which is needed for texts, call logs and other such stuff. At one point, the phone refused to receive new texts because it was out of storage space!!! The problem is, built-in Google Apps (search, g-mail, maps, etc) can’t be updated in place, as they are installed on the system partition. When you download and install an update, it creates a duplicate installation on the user partition, taking up that free space. Meanwhile, the original app just stays there, unused. Updating all the stuff that came with the phone, without even installing any additional apps, simply fills all the free space on the built-in storage.

        All in all, a colossal hassle that is fairly typical of Android. Vast majority of Android buyers are like me — people who can’t (or wont) spend $650 on an iPhone, paying $100 per month for an all-you-can-eat plan (I pay $25 for unlimited text/data plus 450 mins of voice, and phone was $150 when I bought it). If you want to have Android performance that somewhat resemble’s iPhones, you end up spending as much as you would for the iPhone. Why get a fake when the real thing costs as little?

  4. Even though Android can not compete, it does — that is the problem for Apple. Lately, Apple was able to fight back, but emerging/developing markets are won by Android, because even cheapest iPhone costs no less than about $400 ($375 in USA).

    1. $400????? You can get a 3GS for free and an iPhone 4 for $99 with a two year plan. ANY plan.

      Now you may be talking about an unlocked phone… Which I find funny cause you still have to pay the phone company when you want to call with it. ???

      Consider trying a new iPod Touch and use Skype and wifi. If you can get one used, maybe for $ 125.

      Just a thought,
      en

  5. The other flaw with Android… Google makes very little profit per Android phone sold. In contrast, Apple makes hundreds of dollars in profit per iPhone sold. If Google has to pay licensing fees, Android will become a money-LOSING scheme; no amount of potential advertising revenue will compensate.

    Even if the hardware makers using Android make a reasonable profit (which is highly doubtful in tablets), Google (the primary software developer for the platform) simply cannot AFFORD to keep up with Apple. The divide will widen, as Android continues to fragment.

  6. Not to sound anti-Apple, but fragmentation exists in the Apple campus also.

    Not everyone updates their iOS device.
    Nor does an iPhone 3G run the same apps as the new iPad.
    There is confusion in iPod Touch apps and iPad apps.
    And not every Apple idevice owner replaces an old device with a newer one.

    1. I have to say that Samsung must about 10 to 15 Android models. I can’t say exactly as I do not bother to research it. They got the Galaxy 5, Galaxy S, the Galaxy SII and SIII, the ace, the Note, the Apollo and the list goes on. I believe all are non-upgradeable.

      However, back in the times of older cellular phones – the thought of upgrading the operating system was never done. Only until the smartphones appearance – perhaps about the time Blackberrys appeared. It just was not a big deal.

      With that in mind, having a cellphone even the lamest Android phone is a huge step forward from a basic cellphone. A phone that does web browsing and email text messaging and video calling and a phone that has a larger range of free apps to further the function of your cheap smartphone. Apple must not ignore this. But the question is how can Apple put a spin on this sector.

      People do love phones and a good simplified smartphone that chops out some of the features and pin points on some of the more convinces could place Apple in a lower category phone yet maintain high standards. My guess would to be a smaller phone, that is less run by a Mutli-touch UI and more on a integrated embedded Siri UI.

      Apple needs something other then to sell every year the latest best 700 dollar phone and discount the pervious years models.
      Having two models starts to make sense… and provides choice.

      Why do I need an iPhone when I have an iPad, iMac. A similar yet totally voice assisted phone would definitely be the wise move and choice for many at a lower price.

      For those who have an iPhone, iMac, iPad, iPodTouch, MacBook Air — ask yourself will you buy a MacBook Pro or MacPro also – I doubt it. The overlap of the devices you have already becomes the fragmentation in the line of products.

    2. There’s a difference. iOS “fragmentation” exists mainly because of older (discontinued) hardware that no longer supports the latest version of iOS. That’s actually “progress.” And maybe some users don’t update their device, even when they could. That’s “choice.”

      Android fragmentation exists, “by design.” Some brand new devices can’t run the latest version of Android. It’s often the device maker’s (or wireless carrier’s) call if an update is made available to customers, not the customers’ choice. For example, the Kindle Fire’s OS is technically “Android,” but it’s a much older version that Amazon has customized beyond recognition (to de-Google it).

      1. Right, the fragmentation in Apple products were not pre-designed. “Progress” allowed for that issue. Sadly, Apples’ did not “choose” vector graphics in iOS to display the UI. Meanwhile, Google continues to develop Android and gives it away freely. It’s the manufactures and carriers who control if the update is available and if it will be compatible to the device sold. Ultimately the consumers gets to decide which fragmentation is best for them.

        The easier choice and longer lived choice for your device may seem to be Apple but it is an expensive choice. Now, consider, buying and replacing a cheap Android phone every year for about 100 bucks compared to one iPhone at 600 bucks and it becoming obsolete in three years.

        1. Well, since most users want to have a full-featured wireless plan to use an iPhone, that “600 bucks” is actually $200, or $100, or FREE. And they can replace their iPhone every TWO years. Or suffer with a “cheap Android phone every year for about 100 bucks.” That Android phone that costs $100 with no contract must be REALLY low-end.

          So, your reasoning is not quite reasonable… 🙂

    3. That’s not anti-Apple, you believe you have a point to make.

      Fragmentation is not a new OS leaving older hardware behind, people failing to update their OS or non-existent iPad/iPhone/iPod touch ‘confusion’.
      The term ‘fragmentation’ means many different devices on the market made my different manufacturers, each with varying screen sizes and hardware capabilities all trying to run an OS from one source.

      Finally, and I’m sorry to nitpick, but ‘the Apple campus’ is in Cupertino.

  7. Android will become more and more like the freebee candy stick phones you get “Free, If you just sign our multi-year contract!”

    Users who want performance and real App options can only get it in one place.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.