For some people (mainly Apple), the dominance of Android in the mobile operating system market is a mystery. But for everybody else, it’s obvious: Android is the most open system in the mobile market right now, and Apple is not. The problem for Apple and why they won’t succeed like Google, in the long run, is because of their basic business model. Apple is all about proprietary tech, patents and premium devices with software crafted by the company itself. Google, on the other hand, is all about being a platform and creating an environment where the creative genius of the entire planet can operate.
Recent, the left-wing geek tech site, Gizmodo, made a comparison of the intellectual and research contributions of different actors in both of the major smartphone companies, Google and Apple. Their comparison consisted of two spider maps, with nodes indicating the individual who had made a discovery or advanced a particular technology. Google’s map was like a big spider’s web with no apparent core. Innovation appeared to be fairly evenly distributed throughout the company, with hundreds of contributors to Google’s technology stack who aren’t officially part of its operation.
Apple’s map looks totally different. Instead of research contributions being widely dispersed, they’re all clustered around a few individuals working in secret labs. Just five or six people claim ownership over dozens of innovations, with the rest of the company only contributing at the margin. In other words, Apple is a lot more centralized.
But Google’s openness is both a blessing and a curse for the company. Openness has allowed Google to tailed the mobile experience in a way that benefits the company, but funnelling yet more people through its search engine and using it to collect their data. But on the other hand, Google runs the risk of putting the benefits of other businesses ahead of its own.
This might be why Apple is dominating in the mobile space right now, when it comes to profitability. According to the Motley Fool, Apple commands more than 73 percent of the industry’s profits, despite the fact that it only has a 13 percent market share.
There’s another problem with Android too. Some apps, like the William Hill app, aren’t allowed on its app store. We’ve seen the sort of issues censorship has caused Reddit and Twitter, both of which are now in secular decline. But there’s a chance that if people can’t get what they want using Google’s platform, they’ll start looking for alternatives. How Google plays this will be crucial. Either it will have to convince other platforms to have the same policies as it does, or it’ll end up losing users.
With that said, there are a billion (possibly more) reasons why Android is going to be the platform of choice for consumers. Just this year alone, Google chairman Eric Schmidt is predicting 250 million more Google users on mobile, thanks to the growth of mobile in Asian markets. What’s more, the devices themselves are getting cheaper, thanks to Google’s Pixel phones, meaning we could see them throughout the developing world.