We've been joking for years that in the future we'll be ruled by Android Overlords - we just didn't think it would be an operating system. In 2015, it's predicted that Android shipped over one billion devices - a share of the mobile market equating to almost 80%. In our 2015 Skill Up survey, we also discovered that Android developers were by far the highest paid of mobile application developers. Android dominates our present - so why is it likely going to be vital to the world of tomorrow too?
IoT Will Run On Android (Probably)
Ask any group of developers what the Next Big Thing will be, and I bet you that more than one of them is going to say Internet of Things. In 2015, Google announced Android stepping into the ring of IoT operating systems when it showed us Brillo. Based on the Android kernal but 'scrubbed down by a Brillo pad', Brillo offers the possibility of a Google-backed cohesive platform for IoT - something potentially vital to a tech innovation increasingly marred by small companies attempting to blaze their own trail off in different directions. If IoT needs to be standardized, what better solution than with Android, the operating system that's already the go-to choice for open-source mobile devices?
We've already got Smart Fridges running on Android, smart cars running on Android, and tons of smart-watches running on Android - the rest of the Internet of Things is likely just around the corner.
Android is Colonizing Desktop
Microsoft is still the King of Desktop, and Windows isn't going anywhere any time soon. However, its attempts to enter the mobile space have been miserable-at-best - a 2.8% share of the mobile market in 2015. What has been more successful is the idea of hybridizing the desktop and the mobile, in particular with the successful line of Surface laptops-come-tablets.
But is the reverse likely to happen? Just like we're seeing Android moving from being a mobile OS to being used for IoT, we're also seeing the rise of ideas of Android Desktop. The Remix OS for PC operating system is created by former Google developers, and promises an "Android for PC" experience.
Google-proper's own experiments in desktop are currently all based on the Chrome OS - which is growing fast in its market share, particularly among the education and student sectors. I'm an enthusiastic Chromebook owner and user, and when it falls short of meeting the full requirements of a major desktop OS, I'll often turn to my Android device to bridge the gap. According to the Wall Street journal, Google may be thinking similar and is considering folding Chrome OS and Android into one product. Consider the general praise that Microsoft received for Windows 10 mobile, and the successful unification of their platforms under a single OS. It's easy to imagine the integration of Google's mobile and desktop projects into a similar single user experience - and that this hybrid-Android would make a serious impact in the marketplace.
For Apple, the Only Way Is Down
Apple has banked on being the market in luxury for its mobile devices - and that might spell its doom. The pool of new buyers in the smartphone market is shrinking, and those late adopters are more likely to be price-conscious and enamored with the cheaper options available on Android. (After all, if your grandmother still complains about how much milk costs these days, is she really going to want to shell out $650 for an iPhone?)
If Apple wants a bigger share of the market, it's going to need to consider a 'budget option' - and as any brand consultant will tell you, nothing damages the image of luxury like the idea that there's a 'cheap version'. Apple is aware of this, and has historically protested that it's never happening. But in 2015, we saw the number people switching from Android to iOS fall from from 13% to 11%. Even larger, the number of first-time smartphone buyers contributing to Apple's overall sales went from 20% to 11% over the same period. Those are worrying figures - especially when it also looks like more people switched from iOS to Android, than switched from Android to iOS.
Apple may be a little damned-if-it-does, damned-if-it-doesn't in the face of Android. You can get a lot for your money if you're willing to buy something which doesn't carry an Apple logo. It's easy to see Android's many producers creating high-powered luxury devices; it's harder to see Apple succeeding by doing the opposite.
And are we really ever going to see something like the iFridge?
Android's Strength is its Ubiquity
Principal to Android's success in the future is its ubiquity. In just six years, it's gone from being a new and experimental venture to over a billion downloads and being used across almost every kind of smart device out there. As an open source OS, the possibilities of Android are only going to get wider. When Androids rule our future, it may be on far more than just our phones.
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