Steve Jobs must be stirring in his grave. The “stolen product” the late Apple founder had vowed to destroy is alive and doing very well. Android, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC), now controls almost 80 percent of the world’s smartphone market. Samsung, LG, Huawei, Lenovo, ZTE, HTC and other vendors shipped a total of 236.4 million smartphones during the second quarter of 2013. On the other hand, Apple’s market share continued to decrease as it settled for 13.2 percent, down from 16.6 percent last year. By the looks of things, it seems that Android will continue to get the lion’s share of the global market in the foreseeable future. Take a look at how the Google company surpassed Apple over the years.
Android Inc. was founded by Andy Rubin, a former hands-on hacker, Apple engineer, and Microsoft manager in 2003. The company was originally building software for digital cameras but after seeing that the demand was small, Android turned its attention into developing a smartphone operating system that can compete against Symbian and Windows Mobile. Google got wind of what Rubin and his team were doing and purchased Android in 2005, supposedly unaware that Apple had started secretly developing the iPhone in 2004.
The Apple connection
Not too many people know that Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin approached Jobs in 2001 and asked him to become CEO of the company. When Jobs declined, current Google chairman Eric Schmidt became Google CEO. Schmidt later joined Apple’s board in 2006. The iPhone was finally launched in January 2007, with Google supporting the launch by giving the shiny new smartphone the browser, Gmail, Google Maps, optimized web apps, and Quick time-friendly YouTube. But in November 2007, just 11 months after the successful debut of the iPhone, Google unveiled the Android operating system. In 2008, Motorola’s G1, the first Android smartphone is launched. In the book In the Plex, How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives, Jobs felt that he was deceived by Google and that the company he almost became CEO of, had stolen Apple’s intellectual property. Whether he was actually a victim of deceit and theft, we may never find out.
Early years of Android and the Patent Wars
As expected, the introduction of the first Android phone drew mixed responses. After all, the iPhone revolutionized the mobile phone industry and consumers weren’t entirely convinced that the upstart newcomer had something to offer. But Android started gaining ground with the release of the Verizon-exclusive Motorola Droid in late 2009 (Verizon didn’t offer the iPhone at the time). The introduction of the Droid sparked the trend of Android phone manufacturers offering features that are different from the iPhone, like removable batteries and physical keyboards. Google launched its first smartphone, the Nexus One, in January 2010, which turned out to be a huge disappointment, and was phased out in July of the same year. In the same year, Apple started the ‘Patent Wars’ against Android by suing Taiwanese manufacturer HTC (ironically, it was Apple that was first taken to court by Nokia in 2009 for patent infringements).
‘Copycat’ becomes top dog
Despite the Nexus One letdown, 2010 was still a good year for Android as Samsung launched the first of its bestselling Galaxy smartphones in June. The rest was history (just ask phone service providers, who as a result, have been profiting from this shift in consumer tastes). The Korean company slowly but surely stated eating into the smartphone market. Sensing the threat, Apple sued Samsung in April 2011 for patent issues on some Android-powered Galaxy phones and tablets. Apple and Samsung have since met in court in more than 20 cases in different countries. To date, Samsung has sold more than 100 million Galaxy phone around the world, making it the leading Android device manufacturer. While tried and tested iPhones are not likely to go away, it is safe to assume that Android will continue being the top dog. IOS is still king in the United States but signs are pointing that that will soon change. Following the Microsoft model is the secret to Android’s success. The Mac lost to Microsoft because the latter allowed PC makers to use Windows; Google is winning because majority of smartphones and tablets today are running on Android.