The last 4 years we have watched a race for dominance between Apple and Google for market share in the Mobile arena. Both platforms have their merits, but neither had been the clear cut leader in the race. On paper, Android has been far ahead for a number of years, and shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, from 2010-2012, Android market share has almost tripled that of iOS every year. But the paper analysis is deceiving when taken at face value, because it does not examine a couple key metrics: Fragmentation, and Brand Loyalty.
Android's Achilles Heel has always been fragmentation. With the Android platform being open source, it creates opportunity for almost any manufacturer to enter the space and build an Android based phone. While this competition is great in some ways, far more variety for consumers at varying price points, from entry level to high-end, it's brutally crippling in others; Android users are at the mercy of the carriers as to which version of Android they have.
Even now, in 2014, the market for Android users is so fragmented that many users are NOT getting the true value out of their Android experience. Users with low cost phones running Android 2.3 released all the way back in 2010 are a huge part of the Android market. This inconsistency leads to resentment and dissatisfaction for users seeing friends carting around iPhones with a shiny new OS loaded with features on it, leading to frustration and mutiny. This results in many users jumping ship to iPhone for what they see as a superior product, and let's face it: If you are going from Android 2.X to iOS 7, you're damn right it's a better experience.
Where does the fault lay for all of the out of date Android devices? Arguments will fly about this topic, but the nitty gritty of the matter is, the majority of it falls on Carriers, for a number of reasons. Carriers all drag their feet about updating phones because they want to be sure each official Android update plays nice with the Carrier "Overlays". Mostly trash apps and pay-per-month costly services that virtually no Android user uses, but that the carriers preinstall on the phone and prevent a user from uninstalling. All in an attempt to generate another revenue stream.
Apple however, is a whole different experience. What every iPhone user experiences is exactly what Apple wants them too. A crisp, clean, unified and universal experience that is familiar from one use to the next, whether they are on Forks, WA or Dubai. That consistency of experience breeds a massive amount of loyalty among it's users. The fact of the matter is this: Though they are a vast minority of the overall market, the majority of iPhone users are FIERCELY loyal. Dedicated to their platform and the company that provides it. Which proves an age old philosophy of business: It's far less important to constantly acquire new customers, and far more important to KEEP THE ONES YOU HAVE. Because Apple users are without question some of the most loyal customers in the business, most of them becoming flat out Brand Ambassadors. Apple has built a culture of customers who become walking advertisements for the brand. So happy with how consistent the experience is that they cannot help but tell everyone else why it's superior. The problem is this: It's NOT. Not necessarily. Whatever works for YOU is the best platform for YOU. Both have their merits. That said, Google is starting to learn an important lesson from Apple: You can charge a significant premium for a product when you provide a Quality Product, with a consistent experience. The majority of Android Users on the most up to date and feature rich version of Android are just as loyal to their platform. But how can we get all those users on older versions of Android on the same page? Say hello to Android Silver.
Google is taking back Android. Instead of producing low-price Android smartphones, Android Silver will consist of top of the line smartphones similar to the Google Play Edition hardware that have launched lately, with true, core Android center stage. Google wants to take control of the software installed on Silver phones. "It doesn’t want any user interfaces installed other than the standard Android one, will shun bloated apps, and will to take charge of the software updates. It sounds like Google intends to bring the Nexus and Google Play Edition lines together, and create a custom, high-end phone to showcase an improved Android experience
Google’s supposed to be splashing out on the Silver Project, and is rumored to be investing up to $1 billion in getting it off the ground. LG and Motorola – two obvious candidates – are already being targeted to produce Silver phones. When, or if, the project launches, apparently the U.S. and other key markets will see the devices first, and not only on Google Play, but in special retail environments too."
This is a huge benefit to Android users and the market as a whole. Putting Google devices in the upper echelon of QUALITY where Apple has reined since the iPhone 4 launched. These are exciting times, and we should see amazing things coming down the pipe.