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When will Google Android really rival iPhone?

By / August 10, 2009

Open Handset Alliance

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Rumor has it that Motorola is cooking up two new Android phones for Verizon and T-Mobile. Apparently code-named Sholes and Morrison, the smart phones each boast 5-megapixel cameras, video recording, and GPS navigation in one of the models. If this scuttlebutt is true, that makes two more solid entrants for Google's mobile push.

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The Android army seems to grow all the time. Five phones currently come with Google's operating system. At least 18 more will launch by the end of 2009, not including today's gossip items.

This strength-in-numbers approach was supposed to be Android's greatest weapon against BlackBerry and iPhone. Google's fingerprints would not only inspire a slew of impressive smart phones, but also encourage a robust marketplace of compelling, community-developed apps – or so the argument goes.

So, when does that happen? When do Android fans get to enjoy that?

Google announced its mobile operating system almost two years ago, but its market share is still a puny 1 percent. Apple, who admittedly had a 10-month head start, has eight-times that figure, according to Gartner.

To even out such comparisons, let's compare Android's time line to the iPhone's. Even though the company announced Android in 2007, no phones came out until October 2008, or 11 months ago. On iPhone's 11-month birthday – May 2008 – Apple had already hit 5.3 percent market share.

Apple's app store wouldn't open for another two months – July 2008. Eleven months after that, the app shop neared 100 million downloads. We don't have specific numbers for Android, but all recent estimates have been nowhere near that number.

While Android hasn't claimed any impressive sales figures – as far as we know – there is a stat that plays to the system's strength-in-numbers argument. When Apple passed 100 million downloads 13 months after opening, the store hosted 3,000 apps. The Android Marketplace currently offers 5,000 apps, more than double where it was in March, according to Gizmodo and PCWorld.

If that keeps up, maybe Android will eventually blow past iPhone.

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