In the end, Google and Android will own the smartphone market. It won’t happen this year and it may not even happen in 2012 but the day is coming when Android becomes the de facto standard for smartphones.
This we know: Multiple manufacturers have reported that Android phones are on the way including up to five from Motorola this quarter and a number from Samsung this year. Google also has a number of handsets in for testing and should be rolling them out after the Nexus One.
While product in pipeline is also nice, I think the real value is in the software. At CES we saw Dell and Lenovo releasing Android phones running Android but without – and this is important – major Google branding or applications. This is, in the end, why Android will soon rule the roost: carriers can remove functions as it sees fit, thereby creating entirely new versions of the OS and UI for their own purposes.
The only problem? Google’s control of the OS pipeline. Various sources have complained that Google controls which OS version various manufacturers are allowed to use and the result is a segmented market with potentially fractured OS trees. However, in the end, the carriers and the manufacturers have control over the OS.
What’s going to happen to also-rans like Windows Mobile? I suspect manufacturers will roll mobile features into future desktop/laptop OSes, leading to a convergence of functionality for mobile Windows devices into Windows 7. Why have a dumbed down Windows Mobile when most devices are powerful enough to run a version of Windows 7? Microsoft is not out of the game, but as a mobile OS provider their days are numbered.