Google entered the mobile software business when it first purchased Android Inc in 2005.
Since then the company has gone from strength to strength, launching one major operating system breakthrough after another, with tasty names like 2.3 Gingerbread, 3.0 Honeycomb, which was specially designed for tablet devices, to its latest, 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
T Mobile’s G1 handset was the first mobile phone to use Android, which is an open-source platform, or one that’s programming code is made available to the public.
The G1 was followed by HTC’s Desire HD, which in turn led to an entire suite of HTC devices running the software. In the tablet market, Android 3.0 Honeycomb served tablets like the Motorola Zoom.
Then, of course, there’s Apple. Its iconic iPhone was a design breakthrough at the time, with the company’s iOS platform made to support Apple Apps.
The result was a cult-like following, with fans eagerly awaiting each new version of the handset.
However, in the last few versions there hasn’t been much of a change in design or technology, and that was especially apparent when the 4S failed to excite upon launching in October.
Device manufacturers such as Samsung have really turned up the heat with new Android-run devices that are well designed, functional and easy to use.
The Galaxy S11 gets my hat tip, and the Note operates as a mobile phone and tablet all in one. And the latest, the Nexus, runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich.
Samsung’s focus on the larger 4.3-inch screen, along with other device makers, is a divergence from Apple’s 3.5-inch models, but I think the former will win out in the end. Larger screens will become the norm given consumers’ increasing demand for content and applications.
Google will soon take the lead in mobile operating systems given Android’s growing prevalence in devices such as those made by Samsung and HTC, regardless of the iPhone’s popularity.
The purchase of Motorola Mobile should help to ensure that, as it will allow Google to extend its footprint in both the software and hardware markets.
Google rounded out its computer business with the launch of the Chrome OS (it has a web browser of the same name).
I think the company is on track to innovate in this arena just as it did with the Android.
If so, Google may end up dominating both the mobile and PC software spaces.
Jazz Gill is a technology, telecoms and private equity consultant. You can contact him at [email protected].