Canalys has put forward some explanations to why Android smart phone shipments grew a huge 886 percent year-on-year in Q2 2010.
It said the short answer is nothing groundbreaking. Simply put, “vendors are delivering compelling products on the platform.”
Products such as the Desire and Droid Incredible from HTC, Sony Ericsson’s X10, Motorola’s Droid and Samsung’s Galaxy S are among the leading handsets on the market and are directly competing with high-end products from RIM and Apple.
Despite the highly competitive nature of the smart phone market, unless vendors have their own platform – like RIM, Apple, HP/Palm and now Samsung – they face a limited choice for their smart phone. This is why Android is doing so well. It’s an open platform for manufacturers to have a pop at. It is easy to use and develop for, Canalys reckons.
It cited the “lengthy transitional period that Microsoft is going through in the run-up to the commercial availability of Windows Phone 7 devices”. For Microsoft, this “no doubt made its platform less attractive to vendors in the short term.”
It said that unless a vendor looks to gamble on Qualcomm’s relatively new Brew MP or the less popular option from the LiMo Foundation, which has recently had its own problems, Android and Symbian are the only logical choices.
Although it said that this alone helps explain why Android has gained so much support during its relatively short existence, there were also a few reasons as to why vendors favour this operating system over Symbian, mainly because Nokia is seen to have a “too strong influence” within the organisation.
And unlike other platforms Android has been global, growing in all regions.
Another significant factor behind Android’s growth is that handset vendors have been forced to change their strategies. Arguably, with the exception of Nokia and Samsung, no vendor has the ability to supply handsets to the whole market across several different price points.
Therefore the likes of Motorola and Sony Ericsson have been forced to re-invent themselves to survive. Canalys said: “Both vendors are looking to emulate the strategies of RIM, Apple and to some degree HTC, focusing on transforming themselves into high-margin specialists. To achieve this they have been forced to substantially reduce the number of products that they bring to market, focusing instead on a smaller number of higher-specification models.”
It added that the problem that these vendors have is with the scalability of the Android platform. It said that while it does give them the ability to supply handsets at a range of different price points, it also brings its own pricing pressures, thanks to the strategies of other Android vendors.
The Chinese topdogs Huawei and ZTE, have initially used the Android platform to target the lower end of the market, competing aggressively on price, and it is this approach that is reducing the value in the market and creating an unwelcome challenge for the other vendors.