Google’s celebrating a very special anniversary this fall. It’s ten years since one of its most successful products launched and went on to help revolutionize the smartphone market.
Android launched a decade ago and has now become the world’s most dominant and widely-used mobile operating system.
CGTN’s Phil Lavelle reports.
Technology reviewer Juan Carlos Bagnell has seen the system change over the years and offers a much more refined experience.
“Early impressions of Android were that it was ugly, it was laggy, it was stuttery,” said Bagnell, “The iPhone was so smooth and easy to use, but it had so much functionality built into it that then we’ve seen Apple has been trying to catch up with the functionality, Google has been trying to catch up with the ‘pretty’ and now we’re meeting in the middle.”
Android launched as Google’s alternative to Apple’s iPhone in late 2008.
It came on an HTC device. For a long time, HTC was Google’s main partner. It provided access to Google’s services like Maps and Gmail and allowed seamless searching with Google’s search engine.
The iPhone had just launched and had revolutionized how people saw smartphones. Google wanted in on that market.
But it went for a different strategy. Whereas Apple sold premium devices it manufactured, and which ran its own operating system, Google simply made the software.
It was an open-source option, meaning any manufacturer could take it and amend it to their own specifications.
The plus is that Google got its OS out there on billions of devices made by dozens of manufacturers and got users hooked on its services, allowing them to sell targeted advertising.
By spreading itself across both cheaper and high-end devices, it was able to get devices in the hands of more people.
More than 80 percent of the world’s smartphones now run on Android.
Kaycea Campbell, Economics Professor at Pierce College in Los Angeles explains, “They get our eyeballs. They get us using the apps that are there on that system. Google Maps, Google Search. Remember that Google is an advertising company. Their aim is not to sell a phone, their aim is to sell advertisements.
If you have a phone using their particular apps, then they’ve pretty much won in terms of their business model.”
One of Google’s big success stories has been China.
Although Google doesn’t have a presence there, its Android platform does and it is booming.
Manufacturers such as ZTE and HTC have been able to use it by stripping out the Google element and just running the Android side of it.
It means that they’ve saved billions of dollars in developing their own operating systems, explains tech author Marsha Collier.
“What’s amazing is we can’t get a Huawei phone here [in the U.S.]. And they’re beautiful phones. But the thing is that in five years, they’ve built a $50 billion handset business and that’s amazing. Worldwide, they outsell much of the other brands,” said Collier.
Many now believe the smartphone has plateaued and that there is little room left for innovation at a hardware level.
The focus has moved to elements like AI, artificial intelligence. Who knows where Android could be in another ten years’ time.