back to article Android Phones are 10: For once, Google won fair and square

Google has received massive fines for its recent stewardship of Android, but there was no conspiracy or underhand tactics about how it got there: Google won this monopoly on merit. Shutterstock molten chocolate Google-free Android kit tipped to sell buckets READ MORE Today, 10 years after the first Android phones launched*, …

  1. Lee D Silver badge

    Android won because iPhones are stupidly expensive.

    Not because Android was "free" because it wasn't, and it certainly isn't by the time it gets to the consumer.

    The reason Android is 90% of the market is that they can literally be 10% (or even less) of the cost of the iPhone or iPad, brand new. Simple as that.

    (Holds a £10 Android 7" tablet in his hands. Bought from brand-new. Works fine. Once bought a £20 Android kid's smartphone. Bought from brand-new. Works fine. Looks at the stack of iPhone screen repair tools in his office - costs £50-70 each time you break it. And that's just the screen)

    1. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Android won because iPhones are stupidly expensive.

      And because of the walled garden and interface lock down. For some people those are desirable, but for many the openness of the Android interface is preferable to Apple. Looking at the software, even if IoS were also free, I'd still choose Android, even with the total absence of privacy.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        And because of the walled garden and interface lock down

        No no no. The vast vast majority of normal people do not care about this. In fact they like things that work consistently.

        You're making the common mistake of thinking others think like you do. They don't. If you ask random people in the street, you will struggle to find anyone who knows what a "walled garden is".

        Let's look at e-readers... Kindle is the iPhone of this market in areas you mention, but it has the lion's share of the market like Android does on phones.

        Android devices are cheaper for those who don't want a top-of-the-line device, work as well as iPhones and have as good a range of apps, for the average punter. That's all it takes. The things we care about like walled gardens, removable batteries, and ability to customise our OS, are simply not factors for 99% of consumers.

        1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

          Re: And because of the walled garden and interface lock down

          I would also say that for many of us with phones we are often like the punters; just want a device that works.

        2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: And because of the walled garden and interface lock down

          Kindle is the iPhone of this market in areas you mention, but it has the lion's share of the market like Android does on phones.

          In which countries?

          Android devices are cheaper for those who don't want a top-of-the-line device

          And also works on top-of-the-line devices such as the Galaxy Note and niche products like the Planet Gemini. We're going to see more devices in different markets using Android (several e-readers use it already).

        3. Patrician

          Re: And because of the walled garden and interface lock down

          "No no no. The vast vast majority of normal people do not care about this. In fact they like things that work consistently."

          Actually, my experience proves the opposite, I have friends that are not in anyway "IT Comfortable" that chose high end Android devices simply because they liked to be able individualise the Home Screens. Now, possibly these friends could be the exception rather than the rule I suppose.

        4. Rafael #872397
          Pint

          Re: You're making the common mistake of thinking others think like you do.

          Upbeered.

        5. Coypu76

          Re: And because of the walled garden and interface lock down

          This: "The things we care about like walled gardens, removable batteries, and ability to customise our OS, are simply not factors for 99% of consumers."

          "We" being geeks.

          iPhone won in the market niche of affluent consumerism, consumers who don't want to reflect on technology. They simply want a magic box that works and has complete concierge service, because the 'walled garden' isn't just Apple's closed technological ecosystem; it's affluent consumerism itself. The iPhone evolved from the iPod, which was primarily a media delivery device for passive consumption, and now the iPhone is more versatile: an experience delivery device, with unbeatable aesthetics and branding. It's the ideal device for those who want concierge service in every part of life. Would you like another mimosa?

          Android has evolved into at least two other ecological niches: the broader low-to-medium end global consumer market of affordable smartphones with decent functionality, and readers of El Reg: geeks who view a mobile device not as a magic black box, but as a customizable technological Swiss Army Knife. (sorry for the zed; that's how we Yanks spell.) Android evolved from Linux as a mobile computer system with a host of tools and a panoply of choices for media delivery without walls. It's an open ecosystem with lots of choices but no concierge service. But it's great for anyone who has the will and the skill to change their own oil.

          As for the two extinct species of mobile devices, their failure lies in their evolutionary forebears. Blackberry was a mobile email terminal which didn't even have a telephone at first. It provided email for corporate executives first, then middle managers. But its ecological niche was too narrow and specialized. Instead of innovating, Blackberry tried to continue to justify their obsolescent business model. By the time they tried innovation it was too late, and Blackberry ended up as just another app on an Android phone for which there were better alternatives.

          Windows Phone didn't really evolve. It was designed as one component of Microsoft's aspirations for global technological and economic hegemony. It arose about the same time as Redmond's other super weapons: Windows Vista, Zune, and HD-DVD. Microsoft was going to rule the world with DRM, a vision where every person, every device and every media channel paid license fees to Redmond - forever. But the marketplace had other ideas. Cue Peter Gutmann's prescient "The Longest Suicide Note in History" paper and the clip from "Downfall."

        6. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: And because of the walled garden and interface lock down

          "Let's look at e-readers... Kindle is the iPhone of this market "

          Agree there (up-voted you). The e-ink display, even on the cheapest device, is spot on. I got my wife one and she reads lots of books on it - more than any tablet or phone.

    2. ThomH Silver badge

      That's kind of a limited view; as per the article Android started from nothing in a mainstream market dominated by Nokia and various Windows Mobiles, both already smart enough to offer browsers and cameras and apps. It then won because it was better than Symbian or Windows Mobile.

      Apple was never number one by sales volume, and never will be. The 90% of the market that isn't Apple has just evolved from flip phones to Android smart phones.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Android 1.5 wasn't better than anything, it ended up winning because it was free and the competition either wouldn't let its OS be used (Apple), didn't know what to do with it (Palm/HP/LG), or was busy setting fire to itself (Elop). Since then Play Services terms have got more onerous, we all know that and Andrew's wrote loads of articles about that, so the headline is just to tease us.

        Oh, and this is what Whackypedia has to say about the original Samsung Galaxy:

        "Due to a lack of firmware updates, Samsung received criticism from original Galaxy users."

        Ten years later and the update problem is still not solved. Yay, Android.

        1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          "Due to a lack of firmware updates, Samsung received criticism from original Galaxy users."

          Ten years later and the update problem is still not solved. Yay, Android.

          Luckily not all phone manufacturers are as bad at software as Samsung - generally great hardware but appalling software at every level. Seriously, Samsung Kies could win a prize as the worst bit of totally dysfunctional crap ever to have been vomited out of a huge technology and foisted on end users. The Samsung poor quality copy apps that get force loaded as "system apps" on every Samsung phone are no better either. Use Samsung mail or the Gmail? One barely works and is disgusting to use, and while the GMail app has its flaws it at least works, is functional and is updated. Which is the next problem with Samsung, and to a lesser extent a lot of the other manufacturers: Once a phone is released, pretending it no longer exists and/or is not updateable (for spurious reasons) after three months is not a useful "support" strategy.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Seriously, Samsung Kies could win a prize as the worst bit of totally dysfunctional crap ever to have been vomited out of a huge technology and foisted on end users.

            It looks like you're writing a scathing critique of a piece of software. Would you like help?

          2. johnnyblaze

            Sorry, got to add iTunes to that list of dysfunctional crap software. It truly circles the drain, and would teach George Orwell a thing or two about draconian control!

            1. katrinab Silver badge
              Mushroom

              iTunes is indeed dysfunctional crap software, but it has nothing on Kies.

        2. chasil

          Android is a terrible operating system.

          If you are building an OS that cannot receive regular updates, then you have to make some sacrifices for security. Android most certainly did not do this.

          Using chroot() for untrusted apps is a well-known practice that Android ignored.

          The Java JRE and other bytecode emulators (i.e. .NET) have led an extremely troubled existence from a security perspective; ADA compiled to native code would have been a far safer choice.

          Instead of doing any of these things, Android requires all of the media libraries to be linked into the Zygote process which is forked to run apps. This is about the same as systemd refusing to run without a complete copy of VLC in its shared text segment. Android's media system is a particular disaster.

          Android won because of the deal-making behind it - it certainly did not win on technical merit.

          The consequence is that, every month, we have new critical flaws, addressed by OEM patches that either don't exist or are quite tardy.

          See for yourself:

          https://source.android.com/security/bulletin/

          1. Mark 110 Silver badge

            Re: Android is a terrible operating system.

            Just downloading latest system update for my HTC U11 now. Bit late, I'll admit, but I'm getting it.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Android is a terrible operating system.

            This is about the same as systemd refusing to run

            Suits me.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            FAIL

            "If you are building an OS that cannot receive regular updates"

            Which is weird, as my Google Pixel 2 receives security updates every 4 weeks, and these are guaranteed by Google to occur for 3 years (see Android Enterprise docs), I am also guaranteed at least 1 major OS update too (in likelyhood, more). I also receive system app updates several times a week..

            Perhaps you are referring to something that is Android based? in which case, you really need to speak with whoever created it, as it's certainly not a problem with Android or a problem created by Google.

            Guess what, if iOS was opensource, and anyone could make products using it, what do you think would happen then? Yup, EXACTLY the same thing, vendors that want to undercut Apple on price will make cut price products with cut price support. So by your measure, the only reason iOS is more secure, is because it's closed source and nobody aside from Apple uses it.

            I would counter that the most secure device on the market, is a Google Pixel device, as the OS os opensource, it's been vetted and reviewed in the open, there are no doors to hide behind, and the device gets very regular security updates. I wonder how many security issues that Apple are keeping quiet about until they have fixes in place for, as they have the luxury of a closed platform.... Go ponder that....

          4. chasil

            Re: Android is a terrible operating system.

            And just in case anyone here has doubts about how awful Android's media system is, let's refer to an authoritative source:

            "Don't start me on [Android] Stagefright and Mediaserver, I could rant for 2 or 3 hours non-stop! Seriously, the code over there is crap, and has insane concepts, like aborting the whole mediaserver (and all related media decoding of all other applications running at the same time), when it parses a file with attributes it does not know, instead of skipping the file. We discovered some issues in Stagefright (busy loops, device reboots, mediaserver crashes) quite early, but we never thought about submitting them."

            https://interviews.slashdot.org/story/16/08/26/1338246/the-slashdot-interview-with-videolan-president-and-lead-vlc-developer-jean-baptiste-kempf

      2. Joe Gurman

        Define "win"

        If you mean giving all the Android fondletoy-floggers other than Samsung a chance to lose money every quarter, break out the party hats and crackers!

        If you mean establishing an experience that's bewildering for users who try to find the best deal every time the buy a new phone, start dancing.

        If you mean provide a platform that's proven to offer an opportunity to make some money for hardware makers whose name is not Samsung.... not quite time to celebrate, is it?

        1. philonous

          Re: Define "win"

          You've hit all the nails on the heads. Google literally stole Microsoft's model for subjugating hardware vendors to its operating system and implemented it flawlessly. Dell and HP managed to save themselves by building IT and cloud services around the computer, which makes them no money at all. Smartphone makers do not have this luxury. Going against Google's domination of user data monetization is a far more formidable task than building your own corporate services on Microsoft's OS.

          Android has laid waste to the hardware industry. These poor vendors need to give most of their profits to the likes of Qualcomm for chips and the rest to Google. The fact that Apple alone reaps as much as 80% of all smartphone profits by some estimates clearly establishes that Android's victory is Google's alone, not any hardware manufacturer's.

          Lastly, Android's success derived as much from the fact that there were no developers to attract by the time Microsoft entered the game. Microsoft couldn't interrupt the iOS + Android domination of mobile app developers.

          This article is so biased that it's almost funny.

          1. Horridbloke

            Re: Define "win"

            "... that there were no developers to attract by the time Microsoft entered the game."

            What are you on about? Microsoft had been in the game, through various Windows CE monstrosities, long before Google set to work. They just weren't very good at it.

            1. WallMeerkat Bronze badge

              Re: Define "win"

              Microsoft with CE was doing the inverse of Windows 8/10, whereby they were forcing a desktop environment onto a touchscreen device. For larger devices it was somewhat acceptable (I remember playing with a dinky netbook, it was almost like using a cheap small laptop), but on a phone it was painful having to navigate a start menu with a stylus.

          2. Ian Joyner

            Re: Define "win"

            "Android has laid waste to the hardware industry"

            That goes for software as well.

            http://ianjoyner.name/Open_Source.html

            1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
              Thumb Down

              Re: Define "win"

              > http://ianjoyner.name/Open_Source.html

              "The Failure of Open Source

              Open-source software is supposed to promote the idealistic notion that software should be freely available and cheap for all. It is actually achieving the opposite effect. Here is why. [...]"

              "While Google might have developed Android (???is it open source???), Android is mainly based on Linux (more warm, fuzzy open source sentiments) – a system developed for speed, not security. "

              BS of the highest order.

              1. Ian Joyner

                Re: Define "win"

                My Post:

                >>>Re: Define "win"

                > http://ianjoyner.name/Open_Source.html

                "The Failure of Open Source

                Open-source software is supposed to promote the idealistic notion that software should be freely available and cheap for all. It is actually achieving the opposite effect. Here is why. [...]"

                "While Google might have developed Android (???is it open source???), Android is mainly based on Linux (more warm, fuzzy open source sentiments) – a system developed for speed, not security. "<<<

                GrumpenKraut's response:

                >>>BS of the highest order.<<<

                Really? Don't you have anything sensible to say? You have to provide a counter argument. The fact is that Linux IS built for speed not security.

                Try to have something intelligent to say.

                1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

                  Re: Define "win"

                  > You have to provide a counter argument. The fact is that Linux IS built for speed not security.

                  No, I don't have to provide a counter argument to your unsubstantiated (and frankly silly) claim.

                  Linux may well not be part of the "security first and foremost" camp of OSes, its track record regarding security is not bad. Considering the wide deployment, it's actually quite good.

                  By the way, "works" (not "speed" as you suggest) is Linus' main goal for all I can see.

                  1. Ian Joyner

                    Re: Define "win"

                    "No, I don't have to provide a counter argument"

                    Oh, yes you do. You obviously can't so that is the end of the conversation. It shows you are working on prejudice and don't know the architectures of these systems.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            FAIL

            Re: Define "win"

            What sort of tool, uses the term FACT and ESTIMATES in the same sentence? A tool that's been brainwashed by Apple is the answer of course.

            "The fact that Apple alone reaps as much as 80% of all smartphone profits by some estimates"

            1. Ian Joyner

              Re: Define "win"

              "A tool that's been brainwashed by Apple is the answer of course."

              No one is brainwashed, except maybe you who is accepting the advertising.

        2. veti Silver badge

          Re: Define "win"

          What are you talking about? Several Android phone manufacturers are doing very nicely for themselves. Huawei, Oppo, Vivo all make a very nice living for themselves. Source. Huawei made over $7 billion profit last year.

          I should lose such money.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: Define "win"

            > Ten years later and the update problem is still not solved. Yay, Android.

            Really? Have you a crystal ball? It's impossible to tell which of today's handsets will still be receiving updates in a few years time, but the signs are promising. Sony used to be criticised, but my Xperia P was updated across three versions of Android. OnePlus used to be criticised, but due to market pressure they now roll out version updates far faster than they did. My Samsung S8 has been receiving monthly security updates, and it doesn't even have Project Treble. Since phones have matured and there is less to choose between them, there's now more incentive for vendors to release updates, and it's now easier for them than ever before to do so.

            (I've only ever used Android, there are things I like about it, and things iOS seems to do better. I'm not cheerleading, just pointing out the consequences of a maturing market)

      3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Apple was never number one by sales volume, and never will be.

        This is revisionism. It certainly was #1 by market share in some markets such as the US for a while and Apple's pursuit of the competition over some of its more frivolous design patents was classic monopolistic behaviour. In the end it decided to trade market share for share of the profits and has done very well in this, even if it has essentially given up innovation.

      4. mgbrown

        Lets not forget that one of the main reasons why Android was better than Symbian and Windows Mobile was because Google refused to support those platforms with their services like Maps and YouTube.

    3. juice Bronze badge

      > Holds a £10 Android 7" tablet in his hands. Bought from brand-new. Works fine. Once bought a £20 Android kid's smartphone. Bought from brand-new.

      A £10 Android tablet and a £20 smartphone?

      I'd be intrigued to know where these came from; looking at dx.com (chinese exporter), the cheapest Android smartphone is £25 and the cheapest 7" tablet is £35.

      So I'm guessing they were heavily subsidised (e.g. an EE second-phone offer) or on a really heavy discount at the time!

      But yeah: generally, it's cheaper to buy a replacement device than to repair the existing one, which is a shame. It's not just the Apple eco-system where that's true though - replacing the screen on a Samsung Galaxy phone ranges from £140 - £240 for the a phone from the last 3 generations.

      https://www.samsung.com/uk/support/mobile-devices/how-much-will-it-cost-to-repair-my-phone-screen/

      As to whether it's worth the extra money - that's down to the individual, and the usual caveats (do you have transferrable data on there, do you need specific technology such as the camera/battery life/etc)!

    4. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      @Lee D - "Android won because iPhones are stupidly expensive." The primary reason I buy mid range Android phones is cost as they are much cheaper than an iPhone.

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Amazon deals - unknown make and model - I think one was an "Opera" tablet (yeah, that was just the brand-name they emblazoned on the back). The other was a managed kid's smartphone that was just Android which some MDM and control apps. Same place - Amazon, random brand (but can't tell you which one as my kid has it over in Spain nowadays!).

        1. RegGuy1
          Coat

          but can't tell you which one as my kid has it over in Spain nowadays!

          What? He's become a bloody foreigner?

          Grrr!

          Brexit means Brexit.

          Leave means Leave.

          Red, white and blue Brexit.

          We won, get over it.

          No deal, no deal, no deal.

          ... etc :-(

          [voice in background] Nurse! NURSE!!

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If iPhones where priced the same as Android, then they wouldn't be "better".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Please tell us where the iPhones are, then, if you bring up their location as being somehow important to how good they are/n't

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Holds an iPhone XS max...

      I'm sorry, but given the title all I can say is game over to android- and all non-apple OEMs. After owning 2 phones ever since 2012 (had an iPhone 5 and decided to get a Sony XZ ultra instead of going for 5s, and thus decided to keep the 5) this is the first year I've decided one phone is enough for me.

      Android just does not kick it it in comparison. You have been very lucky with those devices (if you are not talking bs) because even my XZ premium running 8.0 is like a childs toy in comparison to this beast. Good luck with, well everything I suppose!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Holds an iPhone XS max...

        ^^^^ That's bait

        1. Archivist

          Re: Holds an iPhone XS max...

          That's ~~~~~~bate...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Holds an iPhone XS max...

          Haha... yep! But it's also true. Haven't used my xz premium once since 21st September and I don't miss it at all (after loving it for the last 16 months).

          As only a minor point, the iPhone connects easier to all my Bluetooth devices, and more importantly hasn't dropped connection once. UE boom, beats studio 3.. and ironically my Sony Bluetooth headset SBH54! My iPhone SE (which has been passed on now) was used for very little the last 16 months and I wasn't sure if I was making the right choice when I ordered.. but I have no doubt now. ;)

    7. steviebuk Silver badge

      And...

      ...I'd probably say the locked down nature of the iPhone. The fact Steve Jobs took it to court to make Jailbreaking illegal but thankfully lost. At least it's easier to flash an Android with a custom ROM than an iDevice.

    8. katrinab Silver badge

      "Android won because iPhones are stupidly expensive."

      Not really. They are/were the same price as the equivalent Samsung flagship model, but they last longer before falling to bits and get updates for longer.

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Megaphone

      Android won because it was BETTER and CHEAPER.

      Android won because it was BETTER and CHEAPER.

      The 18 month old Pixel2 (that is now £450), still has a better camera than the £1100 iPhone XS (and the Galaxy S9)... And this is according the the hugely biased Apple fanboys at iVerge.

      https://www.theverge.com/2018/9/19/17878018/iphone-xs-x-pixel-2-galaxy-s9-camera-comparison

      Who sort of person spunks £1100 on a phone that's worse than a 18 month old phone costing less than half that money?

      It's of course not just the camera quality, on the Pixel 2, you have all your Google apps (which most iPhone owners have to download), you have better NFC, that you can use for things that aren't just Apple Pay (like pairing up headphones and cameras, and automation), you have far better bluetooth audio (whilst iPhone is still stuck in the dark ages with AAC profile), Android phones have the Superb APT-XHD and the Sensationally good LDAC codecs.

      Then you have battery life. My iphone 8 was lucky to get to the end of the afternoon without needing a recharge. My new Xperia that replaced it goes for 2 days without a charge with similar usage patterns and very similar battery capacities. Android with Oreo totally destroys anything iOS has in terms of battery life (and I hear Android 9 is even better still, with smart optimisation based on app usage history).

      1. Ian Joyner

        Re: Android won because it was BETTER and CHEAPER.

        "Android won because it was BETTER and CHEAPER."

        Certainly not better. And cheaper because those who are second to market use some tactic to undermine the originals.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Android won because it was BETTER and CHEAPER.

          Clearly better, he even provided 4 key areas with supporting cited as to how it's better, unlike your response...

          I guess you just spunked £1100 on an iphoneXS that got owned by an 18 month old sub £500 phone...

    10. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Holds a £10 Android 7" tablet in his hands

      I've had several devices over the years..

      My tablet though - I have a cheap £35 Intel Atom based tablet that is running Windows 10. It surprisingly does really well considering the lack of RAM and processor power.

      Phones and tablets have become ubiquitous and nothing is really separating the phone and tablet manufacturers from each other. Apple only do well on build quality and certain iOS applications that you can't get on Android or Windows but getting increasingly difficult to justify the initial outlay. If you're already in the Apple eco-system - (Macbook, Apple Watch, Apple TV, iTunes) then it's difficult to move out - I had that initially when I moved to Android from having an iPod and iTunes account.

  2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    For once, Google won fair and square

    No, they won the way that they always do, fiddling with the data behind a screen and making money by selling our information on to others. But on the bright side, at least we all know they do it now - it wasn't obvious 10 years ago.

    1. Blank Reg

      Re: For once, Google won fair and square

      And they ripped off Java knowing full well that they needed a license. Their own staff, many of them ex-Sun even told them so, but money is only supposed to flow in one direction at Google.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: For once, Google won fair and square

        If I understand correctly, the problem was not paying for the license. The problem was that for a phone, Sun would only sell them a license for Java Mobile Edition, which was so terrible that they decided to reimplement themselves the Java standard library instead.

      2. svim

        Re: For once, Google won fair and square

        Yes Google developers knew they were using Java code beyond the existing license they obtained and later Sun Microsystems knew of this too. The issue being, unlike other corporations like Microsoft and Apple that rely heavily on lawsuits, Sun opted not to follow up on legal actions after discussions with Google. It was a dead issue until Oracle (another lawsuit propagator) bought up Sun, a well reported point being that this was a primary factor for the purchase to begin with. Oracle knew before-hand that gaining control of those Java patents were a potential gold mine.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: For once, Google won fair and square

          If Google had discussions with Sun, and Sun decided not to take legal action, WTF would Google not get something in writing?

          Something seems off about this account, because it doesn't add up. If Sun refused to give Google something in writing they were basically saying "we aren't going to take legal action NOW" but that's not the same as saying "what you are doing is fine with us". I'm pretty sure there's zero chance that if Sun was willing to provide something in writing, that Google didn't get it because they failed to ask...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: For once, Google won fair and square

        Saying they ripped off java really doesn't make you look very smart.

        They used public APIS which are by nature public.

        Google WROTE davlik they didn't rip off java ..

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: For once, Google won fair and square

      You might want to compare apple and Google privacy policies, there is literally no difference. If you think apple don't also monitize users, you are deluded.. they sell anonymous user data too, it's written in back and white in their privacy policy.

  3. ghp

    For the "fair and square", the author probably had to avoid any mention of Java and Dalvik.

    1. fandom Silver badge

      Yeah, he could have mentioned how Sun's CEO welcomed Android

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Sun's CEO welcomed Android

        Not exactly the smartest guy on the planet - just look at how Sun ended...

        1. arctic_haze Silver badge

          Re: Sun's CEO welcomed Android

          How Sun ended? Bought for $5.6 billion. Not exactly the worst result if you were a major shareholder.

  4. James 51 Silver badge

    I bought Symbian and BB10 phones. If they were still a going concern I'd be using them now. Android is the default because I won't pay to be condescended to by apple.

    1. Kevin Johnston

      +1 for BB10, fatally injured by being too late to the party. If Blackberry had been a little more awake then this should have come out at least 4 years earlier at which point they would have at least slowed down the expansion of Apple into the Enterprise market.

      In reality the delays meant no developers wanted to play when it arrived so it had no chance

      1. ScissorHands

        I would say the same for the Maemo reboot that shipped on the Nokia N9 about a year earlier than BB10.

        1. James 51 Silver badge

          I do have a n900 too but that never had what you could call an app eco-system although there were a lot of good programs in the repositories for it (including OS updates created by users after Nokia stopped developing for it) so considered it too niche to be relevant to this topic. Although aren't Tizen and Sailfish decendants of Maemo?

      2. br14a

        BlackBerry was tied into a licensing deal with Oracle for Java ME (64Mb VM limit!). They didn't convert to Java SE because of the massive license fees that would have made their phones uncompetitive.

        So they switched to BB10 based on QNX. And while IMHO this was (and is) the best mobile OS around, the change happened too late. And they screwed over a reasonably large developer community based on Java many of whom just switched to the upcoming Android. (Around 40,000 devs).

        Even so if they'd worked with Amazon for content (I believe a deal was possible at the time), things might be different. But they ended up with a new OS, few apps, and no eco-system.

        Had they played fast and loose with Java licensing (a la Google) they may have survived. It wouldn't have taken anywhere near as long to change their code base from ME to SE.

        Just lack of foresight or courage from their co-CEO's. They hadn't reckoned on Steve Jobs marketing genius and thought the technical limitations of the iPhone (early models were terrible but give a free pass because the software looked good) would protect their market position.

  5. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    They put their money where their mouth

    Unlike Microsoft, Google committed fully to Android and provided regular updates. Even if the updates often never reached the customers, the manufacturers appreciated them as the approach fitted the new phone every two years model. This is why "fragmentation" featured only in tech articles: people were used to buying new phones.

    The AOSP model also worked for them here: while Google released a flagship every year, the other manufacturers were quickly able to follow up with their own phones. But if AOSP was great for the manufacturers, it was Play Services and Gapps wot won it as they provided compelling arguments and, of course, ad-supported apps using the world's largest digital ads platform appealed to lots of developers.

    Google's commitment to AOSP shouldn't be underrated. All the time it was pushing Android it was also pushing "open", enabling technologies such as WebM and HTML5, which made moving between platforms (desktop, mobile, web, Android, I-Phone) fairly easy: a torus not a walled garden.

  6. cambsukguy

    Good to have an audio jack but...

    > lacking features like a 3.5-inch audio jack

    I should hope so, that is enormous.

    I prefer the 3.5mm one for phones and 1/4 inch for proper kit. if I use one at all that is.

    1. M man

      Re: Good to have an audio jack but...

      I had one off those...

      Did it really not have an audiojack?

      meh I guess i was litening to music on my Rio PMP 300

    2. Archivist

      Re: Good to have an audio jack but...

      Funny that,

      I prefer the 1/8 inch one for phones and 6.35mm for proper kit, if I use one at all that is.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MS fucked up because all it could see was Windows and Office on a phone which blinded them to seeing what a smart phone would really be used for.

    The writing was on the wall when Balmer sneered at the iphone, he just didn't get it and was in the job too long.

    1. Phil Kingston Silver badge

      I dunno, I wouldn't say they fucked up so much, more that Apple won by having their App Store. When they opened the App Store to 3rd parties, that was the killer blow. MS then just went down a path where each new version was incompatible with previous version's apps. Users didn't stand for it.

    2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      "MS fucked up because all it could see was Windows and Office on a phone"

      MS got rich by selling the most amazing pup to the public.

      Now spreadsheets were an excellent idea. LANPAR and VisiCalc really were revolutionary, as shown by the acronym - a language for programming random arrays. Microsoft managed to overtake the pioneers and become the standard, missing out on the way a whole lot of features programmers would like, such as easy locking of individual cells to hold data or formulae and the ability easily to click on a cell and have all its links back to fixed data turned into a note, but becoming hugely successful.

      But Word was a con. The fact is that a document produced on a physical typewriter is no "better" than an over-DTPed memo, but Microsoft managed to sell the idea that if you weren't outputting a production-ready publication standard document complete with corporate logos and the like, the actual content was of no value. The result is that Word became a productivity hole, but an enormously profitable one. And it worked well with faxes. Incompatible versions of Word didn't matter when lawyers and banks relied on the fax machine.

      And then people came along and started sending, kayn aynhoreh, plain text emails and expecting them to be treated like documents. And online companies started, anathema sit, giving people invoices and order documents in html. And the world did not end. The threat to Microsoft was obvious.

      So, just as IBM microcomputer division was hobbled by the minicomputer people to protect the business model, Microsoft seems to have tried to force Word down the throats of phone users. But Google had no legacy software to worry about and could concentrate on things like delivering an email service where all the heavy lifting is behind the scenes.

      Microsoft executives obviously never read Drucker, who pointed out that legacy and cash-cow business must never be allowed to hobble new products. But they are not the only ones.

  8. karlkarl Bronze badge

    Android won because it was "open"

    Not open-source, just open so you can install your own crap on it.

    Basically the same reason why IBM won with the PS/2.

    Nothing new here. It was all predicted.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Android won because it was "open"

      Basically the same reason why IBM won with the PS/2.

      Which didn't win despite MCA and OS/2 being better than ISA and DOS? Google through resources (techincal, fincancial and marketing) at Android to make it succeed and worked well enough with manufacturers for them to want to put Android on their devices. In 2008 there were other credible alternatives but nobody prepared to put enough into them.

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Android won because it was "open"

      Only company who won with a name like that was Sony with a console

  9. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Stop

    "if consumers still demand YouTube and Gmail, then Google wins"

    ... unless this is deemed as product tying, and therefore an anti-competitive practice - especially if Google insist on the use of certain development technologies as well as terms of use...

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      As long as people want to use those services, then Google does win. We know you hate Google but give them credit for understanding the value of "free" services.

      As for enforcing technologies: Apple is far worse: you can have any browser as long as it's webkit but only Safari gets hardware acceleration.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        It's a rest API, you call it.

        Anything that returns an error or doesn't work just for one platform is by definition blocking, right?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        As for enforcing technologies: Apple is far worse: you can have any browser as long as it's webkit but only Safari gets hardware acceleration.

        Don't push me coz I'm close to the...

  10. Snowy
    Holmes

    Sure Android is 90% of the market..

    but Apple is closer to 90% of the profits. I know if I owned a business which I would like to be.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sure Android is 90% of the market..

      Google own a data selling business, don't confuse them for a technology company with the aims that would require. Or even a standard business model.

    2. A. Coatsworth

      Re: Sure Android is 90% of the market..

      Don't think Google has a problem with that: manufacturers receive the flak from punters and foot the losses, Google reaps the profits from the store and all the slurped data. That's a business model I'd like for myself.

    3. svim

      Re: Sure Android is 90% of the market..

      If you place short term profit over everything than yes, base your business plan on this model. But from a long term, historical view, Apple is riding high currently but it wasn't that long ago that Microsoft had to give Jobs a big, fat check when Apple was close to bankruptcy.

      1. Snapper

        Re: Sure Android is 90% of the market..

        Get your facts right.

        Microsoft brought a load of Apple shares because they were under investigation for becoming a de facto monopoly.

        Because Apple's share price went up Microsoft easily got their money back very quickly.

        And, of course, Microsoft stole most of its design of Windows 3 from Apple.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Those calculations of Android profit

          Are talking about profit from those selling the phones. Yes, pretty much no one but Samsung makes profit selling Android phones, and many lose money. Google however makes billions - it would be impossible for even them to calculate because most of what they make isn't by delivering ads to people while they are using Android, but by collecting all their personal information via having a billion plus people willingly carrying a Google branded GPS with them everywhere they go, and of course knowing what they do with that device and when pretty much 24x7.

          Collecting personal information is useless without a way to monetize it, but luckily for Google they have this - all that additional information makes their targeting of ads all that much better, which allows them to charge more for them.

          If there were viable alternatives to Android, Google would almost certainly pay OEMs to use it. Who knows, maybe they did for a time when it looked like Windows Phone might have a chance.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sure Android is 90% of the market..

      If I was buying a phone, I know which one I would buy, the one where the manufacturer doesn't make lots of money, and the bulk is spend on their product, rather than the Apple phone that just sends the vast majority of the overinflated price to the bank...

      I also love how "90% of the profits" was pulled totally out of his arse, with no supporting data whatsoever.

      Got any data from 2018 that backs this up? Thought not..... Keep on drinking the Kool Aid as they say in the bad old US of A (we know what the A stands for...., it's not America)

      1. Ian Joyner

        Re: Sure Android is 90% of the market..

        "the manufacturer doesn't make lots of money"

        Which manufacturer would that be?

        Apple puts more than others into R&D. The others copy that because it is cheap. The others make money out of selling your data.

        "rather than the Apple phone that just sends the vast majority of the overinflated price to the bank..."

        That is just a stupid comment.

  11. IGnatius T Foobar !

    but that keyboard tho

    *sigh* New phones are great, but I still miss my physical keyboard.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: but that keyboard tho

      I will admit to be enjoying the keyboard on a BlackBerry Key2 on a train as I type this!

      AC to avoid any potential blowback! ;-)

    2. defiler Silver badge

      Re: but that keyboard tho

      *sigh* New phones are great, but I still miss my physical keyboard gamepad.

      There - fixed that for you.

      /me looks sadly at dead Xperia Play in a drawer.

  12. dmacleo

    seems like was just 9+ years ago when I got my motorola a855 droid-1

    ah time flies.

    was a solid phone, liked the actual keyboard too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Similarly just under 9 years since I switched to Android (from a Palm Treo) and tried a Tmobile Pulse - had been thinking about Anfroid phones and while browsing one day all the planets aligned ... Tmobile had just decided to drop the Pulse price significantly, they then added a weekend special 30% off pay-as-you-go phone, were still offering £20 cashback on quidco for new phones, and the final clincher was it was my birthday! So decided for effective price of ~£80 it was worth giving it a try ... and I've been Android ever since.

  13. LDS Silver badge

    Android is just the new Windows...

    An OS borrowed from another, a GUI copied from Apple... not excellent but good enough and cheap enough for most - and made available to whoever wants to sell hardware with it installed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Android is just the new Windows...

      Try a bit harder. Android, while not perfect, left those days behind years ago. It's nowhere near as bad as Windows 10... This is just empty hyperbole, or trolling.

      Puck.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        "It's nowhere near as bad as Windows 10."

        Even Windows left the DOS and Win 1.0/2.0 days behind long ago. Android, like DOS and later Windows, has borrowed heavily from other systems, and much more than Windows did - in this case Linux and Java - and exactly like the article say the UI was redone to copy from the iPhone.

        Android still slurps better than Windows 10, you're right.

        It's not a great OS, and it's bloated as well (after all, everything touching Java becomes bloated). And like MS with Windows, Google is using Android to enforce a monopoly - hitting more or less the same antitrust investigations.

        Face it - Android is the new Windows, and Google the new Microsoft - moreover, with much more data about you.

        That's facts - my dear anonymous Google fanboy, or Googledroid, or maybe a simple Googletroll.

        Sorry to have cast a shadow on your preciousssss mobe.

  14. J 3
    Trollface

    Forgotten fractions

    OS is "only a fraction of the cost of making a phone", says article.

    Of course it is a fraction, but which? 9/10? 17/13? 1/237?

    [not sure whether to use the pedant or the troll icon... oh, well]

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Forgotten fractions

      If you're just making one individual phone, the OS would be more than 99.99% the cost. If you make billions of phones, the cost of developing the OS is far less than 0.1%. that is of course assuming that the OS doesn't generate revenue (advertising) independent if the sticker price)

  15. ashdav
    Thumb Up

    Other OS are available

    Lineage is the way to go.

    Take back control people!

    1. ScissorHands

      Re: Other OS are available

      Still needs GApps and GMS. Which then makes no difference to OEM Android, apart from not having proper binary-blob drivers for the bespoke hardware of your phone and living with crappy camera quality.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Other OS are available

        It doesn't need GApps, though frankly you have to be a geek to be able to work out how to substitute for all the Google products.

    2. Wade Burchette

      Re: Other OS are available

      Um ... Lineage OS is based on Android.

    3. defiler Silver badge

      Re: Other OS are available

      Take back control people!

      Disappointed at the lack of "sheeple" and extra exclamation marks. It's Friday and I could use some good tin-foil-hattery. Might skulk off to ATS...

  16. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge

    Old adage

    "It's not what you've got, it's how and where you stick it."

    It's like VHS, sure the IOS interface and structure is gorgeous compared to Android but then BetaMax was a slightly better format than VHS but what matters most is not how good something is technically but how easy it is to get hold of and use. VHS was a bit naff but it was good enough and suited what people wanted despite it's failings. Android is good enough, it might not be the best and far from perfect but it's good enough to do the job for now, especialy when you consider that with one click I can get the entire O/S downloaded and pull it apart to see how it works, within a day or two I can have it running on my hardware device. There's very few serious contenders that offer that right now. Sooner or later something better will come but it's good enough for now.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Old adage

      The only contender on the horizon is from Google. Either Fuschia or Chrome OS.

  17. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    I must admit that I'm a bit tired and jaded from too much Android, and would like to see something fresh and new.

    Maybe a *BSD or Ubuntu version instead of Android...

    One can only dream...

  18. Mike 'H'

    God I miss the G1

    That phone design..

    As horrible as people claim it was, it was a godsend for someone like me, who types into SSH from his phone on a regular basis. Seeing all the actual keyboarded phones die up and now all we have is a very derpy attempt at a Blackberry revival, saddened me.

    I do admit, the _very first_ release was crap: 192MB of ram, 90 megs of which was shared with the modem, leaving just about enough ram to run 2 apps concurrently without one making the JVM kill the other for resources... 480x320 screen..

    That trackball though? So helpful! Single handed operation of a lot of features because of that, and then I could move my other hand to the phone to type. I kept it open, widescreen mode, all the time - simply because it was easy to grab onto, and not drop, in that position.

    If some opensource hardware group in the near future comes up with a PCB and new screen that would fit the old shell for a G1, I know it would find buyers. Guy can wish eh?

  19. goldcd

    Android never assumed they'd got it right

    When IOS and Android were young, there were all manner of glaring omissions from each platform.

    Pinch to zoom, copy & paste, ability to choose your own default apps, choice of screen size, OTA updates etc.

    You could bicker in a fan-boy fashion over it, but the gaps are mainly gone - but how they were filled varies massively.

    Apple with each successive piece of hardware/OS told their users what they were getting new in a lovely polished silo. Apple knew best and made sure the damn thing did what it said it would.

    Android just let people fiddle, alternate apps, rooting, intercept frameworks, custom OS etc. My Android (my side) would always be able to do the latest and greatest things - and quite frequently would be out of action for a day as I tried to work out how to recover the latest bricking my fiddling had caused.

    Today - I see less of a difference. I own a Pixel and have never even felt the urge to root it. Conversely though, I can't really think of anything that would prevent me switching to IOS (I seem to have conveniently forgotten my arguments over fixed batteries, removable storage, eye-watering prices).

  20. Alperian

    Isn't it a toolbox for slurping data? ...you are the product yada yada

  21. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Instead of

    concentrating on "Is the iphone better than google?" and "who had the better ui?"

    Why not lead with the question I used when dumping my old S2 phone that had finally decided to roll over and die

    "How much is the S7 per month and how much is the iPhone a month?"

    And when the sales droid told me the S7 was 9 pounds a month cheaper (or whatever it was) that decided between the 2.

    And for many many many consumers THAT is the deciding factor.

    Unless you're a sad loser who likes spending too much money on stuff just to look 'hip' at a coffee bar

    Icon.... because they all spy on you anyway

    1. Ian Joyner

      Re: Instead of

      "Unless you're a sad loser who likes spending too much money on stuff just to look 'hip' at a coffee bar"

      That's a silly thing to say.

      Besides with your story, we'd have to take your word for it. Then look at why it might be £9 difference. Maybe they are selling cheaper because they are getting a kick back.

      Yes, that happens in this craze world where companies are making you buy cheap junk.

  22. Mage Silver badge
    Devil

    Google won fair and square?

    How?

    Buy in an OS, tweak it. Distribute free.

    Give away loads of services. (Search is tip of Iceberg, Google groups and mining of scanned books, newsgroups, YouTube. Google Art, Google Docs etc).

    Finance all with adverts. Claim that these are better to advertisers due to the targeting using "magic sauce" of personal info. Use Analytics, Street View, WiFi Slurp, location tracking, cookies, log ins, scan gmail and other Google services.

    Not an exhaustive list.

    * * * *

    Not only not fair but illegal in many countries even before GDPR.

  23. andy 103
    Go

    Google is a primarily software company

    Google is a primarily software company. Apple is primarily a hardware company.

    Android is software.

    I don't think much further explanation is needed.

    See also: popularity of Apple laptops vs Chromebooks

    1. elaar

      Re: Google is a primarily software company

      Google is primarily a data mining company, that produced certain bits of software/web apps to further this.

      Now that all flagship phones are pretty much the same, Apple has to rely more on the software now.

      Besides, in the early smartphone days, Apple was more of a hardware "packaging" company, than a hardware company. How many of the individual hardware components did Apple actually make in the early iphone releases?

  24. Matt 18
    Thumb Up

    "Apple AirPower..."

    I was in stitches :D

  25. dave 93

    What phone do you use Mr Orlovski?

    Methinks Andrew doth protest too much.

    Android phones of all calibre are obsoleted through lack of support after a year or two.

    Great for selling new phones, but unnecessary and damaging for the ecosystems, real and commercial.

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