The number of Android handsets entering the market has picked up pace since Motorola debuted its first Android handset, the CLIQ, in September 2009. Motorola alone has brought seven Android handsets to market. HTC has fielded nine Android handsets, and was behind the very first Android handset, the G1. Samsung, LG and others are working hard on Android handsets, too.
It's little surprise, then, to hear Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha surmise that Android is going to become the dominant mobile operating system. He likened Android's coming dominance to Microsoft's in the late 80s and early 90s. He said that while Apple was an early leader in both personal computing and handset innovation, Android will surpass Apple and the iPhone as Microsoft's Windows out-paced Apple's PC ambitions in decades past.
The parallels are definitely interesting. Consider Apple's strategy in the 80s and 90s. It made its own software and hardware, and didn't license out its products (we'll forget that failed experiment in the late 90s). Apple does the same now. It builds the iPhone, developed iOS, and controls everything about the iPhone ecosystem.
Now consider Android. Google develops the software -- much like Microsoft develops Windows -- and allows others to develop the hardware, customize portions of the user experience, and contribute to the ecosystem. Microsoft's model in the 80s and 90s let it swell to well over 90% penetration in the computing world. Google is following a similar model with Android.
Can Android grow that big? Well, not immediately. Jha noted that there will eventually be "more than three, but fewer than seven" mobile operating systems that survive in the long run. He didn't name them, but obviously Android is one of them. What will the others be? iOS? Symbian? Windows Phone 7? BREW? Java?
Android can be credited for helping turn Motorola's sinking fortunes around. Its successful line of Android handsets has helped stabilize its finances and put the company on a clearer path to survival.
I expect Motorola to be bullish in Android. HTC has made a big commitment to Android's future, too. Will it really become the platform of the future? Its momentum would lead us to believe so.