How Android won the mobile race, and where Google is taking it from here

Interesting analysis by Tomi Ahonen’s on mobile on his blog. It gives a nice forecast of how Google will crush the mobile landscape (and technology in general) in the next two years.

But first, Ahonen says, it’s important to know this: Android won the platform wars, barely three years after they started. Based on Q3 sales of smartphones, he says: “The margin of victory is beyond any dispute.”

First, the basic Android facts:

Android now powers 71 percent of new smartphones. In Q3 that meant 121 million units total, or 1,3 million mobile devices every day (that’s including Saturdays and Sundays).

In Q4, what with Santa and all, Android device makers expect to sell 50 million devices per month.

In the top 10 of device makers, Android powers the devices of numbers 9, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 1. Only three device makers don’t use Android – and those three all use a proprietary platform. Says Ahonen: “This is sheer dominance”.

At the end of Q3, with 600 million devices Android was twice as big as iOS, three times as big as Symbian (still surprisingly tenacious as a platform – and indeed, still bigger than Windows Phone, as Ahonen points out), five times as big as Blackberry.

He says he’s amazed that, barely three years after the platform wars started, the race is run. Especially because more Fortune 500 sunk enormous resources into this battle than in any battle in any industry, ever (Ahonen doesn’t shy away from a bold statement now and then).

But he does list the (major) companies involved, and it’s hard to argue that it’s an impressive list:  Google (of course), Microsoft, Sony, Nokia, Lenovo, HP, Apple, Vodafone, Panasonic, Dell, Acer, Toshiba,…

What will Android eat next?

Having now conclusively eaten Apple, next on the menu for Android is this list, says Ahonen:

Q3 2013: Android will pass Windows in the number of installed devices. This includes Windows installs on PC, servers, phones and tablets, and it’s working from a “best case Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8″ scenario”.

June 2013: Android reaches one billion users.

Q1 2014: Google will surpass the peak human adoption of one tech brand, previously held by Nokia, which at one point reached 20 percent of the human population.

Q4 2014: Google/Android platform will be used by 26 % of the planet’s population.

2015: Android reaches 2 billion users or “Visa card level”. It took Visa 32 years to reach this point, says Ahonen. Android did it in 7.

And after that?

After that, Google will be in a position to reap the benefits of what Ahonen calls “convergence”: the fact that we will use our mobile for everything - from payments (Google Wallet!) to information, to gaming, shopping, travelling. And our phone number will become our unique, global ID.

In Estonia, you can already vote with your mobile phone. In Norway and Estonia, you can file tax returns by SMS. This evolution will not stop there, Ahonen says:

The mobile is becoming the primary newsmedia channel, the primary entertainment platform and increasingly even retail, commerce, travel, banking, insurance etc are going onto our pockets, or derive a major part of their consumer interaction through our smartphone.

And what comes after the big mobile wars? Ahonen thinks he knows: it will be Augmented Reality (AR). Guess who will win that battle, according to him?

Let us know what you think of this analysis, in the comments or by mail.

Read more: Tomi Ahonen’s blog

Photo: Android eats Apples, Flickr

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About the author

Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).

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