Android Market

Image via Wikipedia

Not entirely sure what Android is, or why everyone keeps talking about the latest Android mobile phone? Our tech expert, Ernest Doku, is here to help:

The product of search company Google’s efforts to grab a share of the smartphone market, Android was developed as an operating system in the mid 2000’s, and only thrust into the mainstream after the Californian company invested heavily in it to try to provide a peerless smartphone experience.

Whilst many other OS makers (Microsoft with Windows Phone, Nokia with Symbian) charged other manufacturers to license their technology for use in phones, in 2008 Google allowed phone makers to use Android completely for free, also allowing them to tweak and tailor the operating system for their own ends.

With the ability to not only save millions by using Android rather than licensing or developing their own software but also given the freedom to provide a bespoke user experience, manufacturers including Samsung, HTC, LG and Sony Ericsson flocked to adopt it as their operating system.

This got Google into millions of users’ hands in the space of only a couple of years, with Android smartphones claiming 22.7% of the mobile market as a whole by 2010, and rumoured to rise to a massive 38.5% in 2011.

Bringing development costs down, with constant updates to improve handset features and with support for a fully-fledged app store in the form of Android Market, Google’s platform has transformed the smartphone industry and has massively lowered the barrier to entry for both manufacturers and consumers alike.

Obviously it means that millions more people now use Google as their search engine of choice every day, so it seems like the Californian company had grand designs by giving away Android all along…

So the term Android smartphone describes any handset running Google’s operating system, regardless of phone maker. So the HTC Desire S, Samsung Galaxy S II and Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc are all still Android phones, despite coming from different manufacturers. Simple!

See Also:

Blog: What is a mobile phone operating system? 

Guide Sheet: An introduction to mobile phone operating systems

News: 40% of mobile phones now use Android

uSwitch mobile phone tracker: Up to the minute chart of the top ten best selling Android mobile phones