Can it be said we are getting tired of the Android operating System so soon. Find the contribution a Ewan Spence; a Forbes technology contributor.
There comes a time in the life of every piece of computer code that, no matter how much you update it, no matter how many bug fixes and new features you apply, it will always be behind the curve. I think Android, with the Ice Cream Sandwich v4, has reached that point. Android is as good as it’s going to get. The sales will continue, the brand name will live on, but the time for great leaps in usability and functionality has passed.
Android has huge sales figures and market share in certain territories (notably the ones where Google has a strong presence in advertising and can monetise the eyeballs on the system), and the little green robots are not going to disappear overnight. They could sail higher, bugs will be found and fixed, but there’s a danger that this is the epoch, and it’s not going to get any better than it is.
Android is trapped in the innovators dilemma. They are leading the pack, they have the world at their feet, they can answer every question about their mobile operating system. Nothing can go wrong.
But I’ve seen this time and time again in the computing industry. Does Google have the ability to make a radical choice and start again with a completely clean piece of paper to keep Android as a project alive and thriving towards a second decade of existence? Or will they keep tweaking the OS, letting their hardware partners throw more bloatware and alternative UI’s on top of an OS which next year will have spent five years in the public eye.
Apple looked at the iPod mini, and switched the line off overnight. The Nano stepped up to replace it. At that point the mini was the top-selling MP3 player, it was the darling of the press, and yet by going scorched earth, something stronger emerged on top of a decision that many thought was a bad call.
Nokia were on top of the pile with their S60 flavour of Symbian. It was on top with the Nokia N95, but was then tweaked for newer devices, touch screen support, and generally given iterative improvements until arguably the weight of code was more than the momentum it offered the market. It remains to be seen if the partnership with Microsoft and Windows Phone will arrest and recover market share for the company, but in any retrospective it is easy to argue that Nokia waited too long to make radical changes to their software.
So which way will Google jump? I fear that the answer will not be based on historical lessons learned, or one that takes account of the rapidly changing nature of the mobile market. They’ll go for the solution that keeps eyeballs on Google adverts for the next financial reporting period, that rocks the boat as gently as possible, and that doesn’t upset their hardware partners.