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Thursday, August 18, 2011

TECH WORLD: The siege of Android: How Google lost the OS war!

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Rohin Dharmakumar, Forbes India / / Posted on Aug 18, 2011 at 01:44pm IST.
 In a narrative beginning in 2016 and ending today, Forbes India recalls how the once irrepressible Google lost the mobile OS war.
Vidyanand Kamat/Forbes India.

In a narrative beginning in 2016 and ending today, Forbes India recalls how the once irrepressible Google lost the mobile OS war.

Black Forest

August 12, 2016: In spite of glowing reviews, it may be too late for 'Black Forest', version 9.0 of Google's Android operating system (OS), to turn Google's ship around. In the last 12 months, Android's market share among smart devices has fallen from 35.4 per cent to a shade below 20 per cent globally. It is now just a few percentage points ahead of BlackBerry's BBX OS, while Microsoft Windows Phone and Apple iOS are both significantly ahead.

But as Andy Rubin, the man in charge of Android at Google, got off the phone in his office at Mountain View, California, even those per centage points seemed ephemeral. He had been talking to the head of Samsung's mobile devices division in Suwon, South Korea. "I hate to say this to you, Andy, but it is now becoming untenable for us to support both Android and Windows at the same time," he had said.
In less than two months, Samsung would announce that all of its smart devices would run exclusively on Windows. Though Android's relative share vis-a-vis Microsoft Windows had been falling steadily since 2012, it still accounted for nearly 30 per cent of all Samsung smart devices.


September 21, 2015: Research firm Gartner today announced that Microsoft Windows Phone had become the largest smart device OS globally. "Aided in large part by Nokia's volumes in Asia and Africa, and by increasing adoption by device makers, Windows has surpassed our own expectations," said the firm in a report.

The Microsoft-Nokia alliance, dubbed 'Win-kia', has surprised most analysts since its launch in late 2011. Though nowhere comparable in power to the Microsoft-Intel ('Win-tel') collaboration, Win-kia has been credited with upending the mobile OS playing field in just a few years.

While Nokia's wide range of phones and deep distribution and retail experience in emerging markets allowed Windows Phone to capture a large part of the entry and mid-level smartphone market, Microsoft's carrot-and-stick approach had done the trick with other device makers.

Each Android-run smart device meant royalties of $7-9 to Microsoft, insisted its suited, hard-nosed lawyer army. The only way to bring that down, they would say, is if the manufacturers committed to using Windows on a certain percentage of devices. The more the commitment, the less the royalty.

Already burdened under royalty payments ranging from $11-15 per device to Apple, Oracle and a bunch of other big and small companies, most manufacturers quietly acceded.

The Tipping Point

June 13, 2014: The Independent Mobile App Developers Association (I-MADA) is miffed at Google. "Google has quite clearly failed to step up and shield small developers from frivolous lawsuits, as a result of which much of our money and efforts is being spent on court cases instead of developing better apps," said the body in a press release today. According to the statistics attached, Android developers attracted nearly 60 per cent of all patent infringement lawsuits.

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