Android Delayed, Still Not Competitive With iPhone

Google Android Delayed - Not Competitive with iPhone

Quel surprise: Google's Android will be delayed. It looks like Google and their hefty consortium of partners are struggling a little with getting a new mobile OS deployed across a wide array of hardware connected to all sorts of different networks. Who coulda predicted it? (Yeah, okay, basic high school chaos theory, given complexity growth and propensity for system break down and all, but other than that...)

Originally slated for second half 2008, its now looking more like fourth quarter, if not 2009. Seems like the T-Mobile launch is so Google-tention intensive, it's pushing Sprint's launch further back. Also -- wait for it -- Sprint doesn't want to just deploy a clean Android build, they want to wall it off brand it up all personal like (couldn't see that one coming?). Meanwhile, mega-carrier China Mobile is "running into issues" pushing its launch back as well.

To top it off, Android is more challenging to develop for, which is also a startling revelation, given the alpha/beta status of the SDK. Hitting deadlines is one thing. Hitting them through an asteroid storm of OS changes is another entirely.

Not to beat a dead horse, but all these problems were wicked obvious going back to launch day. In fact, Fake Steve satire'd it up brilliantly from the get go, and Daring Fireball sums it up nicely now.

Keep reading after the break to find out how this effects the iPhone...

Not at all.

Despite the web-spanning headlines, Android isn't competing directly with the iPhone (or even the Blackberry), it's competing with Windows Mobile.

Apple makes integrated hardware, software, and services. These are their core businesses. They've done them for years, with an incredible degree of innovation and market success. The iPhone is offered as a single, cohesive user experience. You can't buy an Apple handset without OS X, and you can't run an iPhone without hitting Apple's services one way or another (everything from RSS reader to Notification Server to .Mac/MobileMe to iTunes).

Blackberry also follows this model, which is why it's a good sparring partner for the iPhone. Palm did for a while with the now outdated Palm OS, and may again with Nova, but their attention is now split with Windows Mobile, which is Microsoft's hardware-agnostic mobile platform/OS. And it's Microsoft's model, not Apple's, that Google is gunning for.

Google brokers advertising. That's their core business. They try to lock eyeballs to services long enough to serve up ads. They're the 1000lbs gorilla in that space. They don't make hardware, but they do do integration. They want their search (and other services) as available as possible.

Microsoft, whose core business has been monopoly client OS and productivity apps, wants that advertising market going forward, and is pushing Live and Live Mesh to try and jumpstart their own search revenue. Microsoft also has a long, if not illustrious history on handsets, which could well be the computer platform of the future.

The iPhone already gives Google gigantic mobile usage numbers in everything from search to maps. But the iPhone, despite its lust-worthiness, is only one handset. To compete with Microsoft, and to capture the mobile market, Google needs to be on every handset, and one way of getting a huge chunk of "every" is to make their own OS and pit it head-to-head with Windows Mobile. (Likely Windows Mobile 7, depending which delayed OS gets un-delayed faster...)

Will some people choose an Android phone over an iPhone, the same way they choose a Windows Mobile or feature phone today? Sure. But bottom line, and blogsphere headlines notwithstanding, Apple has shown no push into online advertising, and Google has done nothing in the integrated consumer electronic space.

Probably because they understand there's more money to be made together...

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Android Delayed, Still Not Competitive With iPhone


so, because it doesn't directly copy the "model" of the iphone, it doesn't compete with it?
here is a hint, the iphone, is a phone. the OS android, will work, on (mostly) all phones. you figure it out.
i liked the article but your pompous mouthing off about your pretty little overpriced phone ruin the journalistic integrity.

um... why is this even news? Another question who would even use this? There is a reason why these phones come with a OS on them already because they are built to utilize those features. Why don't they just make an actual device instead of just an OS? If you really want to compete with Windows mobile do what Microsoft has not done yet. Maybe no one thinks this but me.

"Originally slated for second half 2008, its now looking more like fourth quarter"
Obviously you're iphone fanboys/girls, so this will fall on deaf ears, but Q4 is IN the 2nd half of 2008. So it's not really delayed, it's just become more specific. Maybe you should consult a calendar, or go back to 2nd grade where they taught how to tell time.

@jeff: Not sure you're right about Android running on the iPhone, so maybe you could help with figuring that part? And yes, there are segments in any market, and smart companies like Apple and Google are very conscious of what segments and markets they're focusing on. iPhone is a single unit. Windows Mobile runs on many units. Google wants those many units. (It already has the iPhone eyeballs, and thus already gets the iPhone ad revenue). Now sure how that's pompous, but we appreciate your nonsensical disdain anyway!
@Caleb: Google is the #1 search engine. That also means it is in the top 5, and the top 10 of all search engines. But does saying it's in the top ten mean as much as saying its #1? Of course not. Likewise, 4th quarter is certainly in 2nd half, as is 364/365th, but the reason a company says 2nd half is because they're gunning for something earlier (at least sounding) than 4th quarter. Never mind the very real possibility of a slip into 2009.
So, while I might have napped through time telling, I was fortunately awake in applied logic :)
Also, an iPhone blog focusing on iPhones is not fan*ish anymore than a ketchup bottle being filled with ketchup isn't anti-mustard. How's that for applied logic?

Mac OS X Leopard was supposed to ship in Spring 2007. That's a window of 3 months. It ended up shipping with days to go before the end of Spring. Every Apple website/blog insisted that it wasn't delayed and it had shipped on time. And, IIRC, this isn't the first time that Apple has predicted a shipping window and shipped their product at the very end of that window. That's essentially all that Google has done. They announced a 6 month window in which the first Android phones will ship. So, by the above logic, as long as they ship on or before December 31st they are not late. Heck, everyone in the industry does this. Each time someone announces a window in which a product will ship, it invariably comes out at the very end of that window (if it isn't delayed, that is). This whole thing is a non-story. What would have been surprising is if we saw an Android phone on July 1st - now, that would have been a story worth talking about!

  • HCE

Android can do amazing things! Look around the web and look at a few of the hundreds of applications that have already been written for the platform. They are making a gphone (least that is the rumor) but it will not be out till 09, they are trying to have the OS ready for 4qtr 08-we will see if that will happen.
Why is the iPhone a year after their first addition, creating a new one that should of had the crap they are bragging about? 3g, push email, etc??? It still can't mms, copy/paste, and many other things. Compare the new iphone to the BB Bold. BB is the better phone, while apple is somewhat still trying to catch up to the rest of the market.
iPhone is a rad looking phone and very high tech but that is all. Why does it miss all these needed components? I don't get why Apple would do that?