At 135 devices, the Android army marches on but what happened to the Windows Mobile legions?

The number of Android devices is rising steadily; it’s already up to 135.  Android devotees should rightly rejoice.  However, Android is not the first mobile platform with an open licensing strategy. A quick visit to pdadb.net lets us count the number of devices that shipped for every mobile platform in history.  We can also see the current market shares as listed by Gartner for these platforms.

The numbers of SKUs (stock keeping units) that have shipped historically vs. the market shares of the mobile phones running those platforms are (see Footnote below for some caveats):

The same data in a scatter plot:(SKUs on the x-axis and share on the y-axis)

The thing that jumps out is how uncorrelated the two quantities are.  The Windows Mobile/CE number is such an outlier that it breaks any attempt to link the two variables.

What’s likely to happen is that since the licensing of Android is even less problematic than it was for WinCE (i.e. it’s both free as in beer and free as in speech) the number of Android SKUs is likely to overtake WinCE.  In other words, we’re very likely to see Android grow from hundreds to thousands SKUs.

However, the real question for the Android platform isn’t whether it will have licensees. WinCE proved that there is vast demand from many companies to build cloned and undifferentiated devices. The real challenge is whether Android can achieve significant volumes without fragmentation to keep the platform/network effect going.

The WinCE platform was actually less fragmented through its life than Android is today. This is understandable since the source code was decidedly not open and thus not modifiable and new versions were released far less frequently. And even with a high price tag, it was wildly popular with licensees. Nevertheless, the volumes never came and Microsoft was forced to abandoned the whole strategy.  The next version of Windows Mobile (Windows Phone 7) will follow an “iPhone lite” model of highly restricted configurations and device and ecosystem specification.

So will Android follow the fate of Windows Mobile with an even more fragmented, bazaar-like licensing model? Or will thousands of undifferentiated Android devices swamp their integrated competitors?

Footnote: The total SKU number includes non-cellular devices whereas the market share number includes only cellular devices. Omitting non-cellular devices will not detract from the pattern or change the correlation meaningfully.  The argument can also be made that the “platform” value lies in both cellular and non-cellular devices (e.g. iPad) and they should both be counted.  Unfortunately there are no market share statistics that blend both device types into one market.

What Happens When You Upgrade an HTC Hero to Android 2.1?

HTC:

TEXT AND PICTURE MESSAGES

Text and picture messages will be deleted with this software update. You can back up text and picture messages by forwarding them to an email address.

  • Open the Messaging application
  • Tap and hold on the desired text or picture message
  • Tap Forward
  • Enter an email address then tap Send

APPLICATIONS

Applications will be deleted with this software update. You will need to re-download the desired applications from the Market after this update completes.

Daring Fireball Linked List: What Happens When You Upgrade an HTC Hero to Android 2.1?.

From the Hacker’s Dictionary:

kluge /klooj/

[from the German `klug’, clever; poss. related to Polish `klucza’, a trick or hook] 1. /n./ A Rube Goldberg (or Heath Robinson) device, whether in hardware or software. 2. /n./ A clever programming trick intended to solve a particular nasty case in an expedient, if not clear, manner. Often used to repair bugs. Often involves ad-hockery and verges on being a crock.

Visualizing iPhone vs Android Shares

Following up on my last post on how misleading US-only share comparisons can be, I decided to draw charts to visualize the comparison.

As Android and iPhone compete in various ways, it’s hard to see which is the preferred choice given a direct comparison.  In other words, iPhone and Android devices rarely are placed next to each other with similar terms.

Take the US market for example.  The overall data from NPD suggests that last quarter Android reached 28% share vs. 21% for iPhone.  Many of those Android devices were new to market or at least newer than the iPhone which in Q1 was coming to the end of its product cycle.  Second, pricing for Android devices seems to have been quite aggressive with buy one get one free sales.  But I won’t dwell on tactics now; what I do want to note are the differences in share between AT&T users and non-AT&T.

Note that within AT&T, iPhone outsells Android over 4 to 1.  iPhone also outsells “others” (mainly RIM) more than 3 to 1.  However, outside AT&T, where the iPhone is not available, Android does not outsell “others”.

If we exclude the US altogether, we also see that Android does not have a great distribution.

Outside the US, the iPhone also outsells Android nearly 4 to 1, but it has a way to go before challenging Symbian which makes up the bulk of “Others”.

So in markets where Android is head-to-head with the iPhone (AT&T and non-US markets), iPhone’s lead is quite high (still).  The possibility still exists that Android will overtake iPhone given the broad licensing and distribution, but it’s not necessarily a given.  And in any case, iPhone is not the market share leader today and that leadership does not seem to be their objective (note the pricing).

The bigger question is what will happen to RIM and Symbian as Android grows.

NPD: iPhone is 65 percent of AT&T’s smartphone volume

Much ink is being spilled over Android outselling the iPhone in the US in Q1.  Here’s what NPD survey data shows:

  • Q1 units for Android reached 28% vs. iPhone at 21%.
  • AT&T stated that they activated 2.7 million iPhones.  That is 31% of all iPhones sold by Apple.  Assuming NPD data is accurate, we can conclude that Android shipped 3.6 million units in the US or 65% of their total.
  • In a previous posting (Global smart phone OS shares « Asymco) I estimated, based on Canalys estimates, that global Android share reached 10% last quarter or about 5.5 million.
  • We can compute that Android captured only 4% of smartphone share outside the US while Apple obtained 14% share.
  • You can also observe that iPhone’s US share increased y/y while every other platform except Android dropped (implying that Android took share from everybody but Apple.)
  • NPD claims AT&T accounted for 32% of the smartphone market, and even though AT&T carried both Android and WinMo and Blackberry devices, 21 out of every 32 phones or 65% of AT&T’s volume were iPhones.
  • We can conclude that Android captured 34% of the non-AT&T US smartphone market.

The table below combines the NPD, AT&T, and Canalys data to show units for iPhone and Android in the US, Global and non-US regions.

One can only wonder what would happen if iPhone would be available non-exclusively.  Would iPhone achieve greater than 60% share as it did on AT&T?  Certainly that’s what happened in France.

HTC to pay Microsoft for Android

While Apple’s patent lawsuit against HTC remains ongoing, the Taiwanese handset maker has reached a licensing agreement with Microsoft to avoid another lawsuit over its Android-powered handsets.

AppleInsider | Microsoft believes Android infringes on patents, HTC strikes deal

Who says Android is “free”?

Nexus One coming to Vodafone not Verizon

“We wont be selling a Nexus One with Verizon and this is a reflection of the amazing innovation happening across the open Android ecosystem,” Google said in an emailed statement.

via UPDATE 1-Google smartphone coming to stores, no Verizon| Reuters.

Come again?

The breakdown of the deal signals Verizon may view Google as a competitor rather than a partner when it comes to Nexus One sales, which are probably at less than half a million since the phone’s January debut, said BGC Partners’s Colin Gillis. ‘It’s really a flop for Google,’ said the New York-based analyst.”

See also: Bloomberg.

Android Market passes 50k apps

Android has already crossed the 50,000 app mark, new stats from AndroLib show. Just a week after Google officially confirmed the 38,000 app mark, a raw estimate now says the mobile app store has added 10,000 more apps within at least a few weeks.

via Android Market passes 50,000 apps | Electronista.

The AppShopper iTunes app store spider shows the following totals today:

  • Total Apps Approved: 222431
  • Total Available Apps: 191465
  • Total Available iPhone Apps: 188005
  • Total Available iPad Apps: 4902