Google’s Android is eating Apple’s lunch

Updated 19 November 2012
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Google’s Android is eating Apple’s lunch

SAN FRANCISCO: Smartphones and tablets powered by Google’s Android software are devouring the mobile gadget market, eating into Apple’s turf by feeding appetites for innovation and low prices, analysts say.
The Android operating system powered nearly three out of four smartphones shipped worldwide in the recently ended quarter as the mobile platform dominated the market, according to industry trackers at IDC.
“Android has been one of the primary growth engines of the smartphone market since it was launched in 2008,” said IDC’s mobile phones research manager Ramon Llamas.
“In every year since then, Android has effectively outpaced the market and taken market share from the competition.”
In tablets, Apple’s market share has fallen to just over 50 percent from 65 percent in the second quarter as Android devices gain ground, according to IDC figures.
“Having a lot of people building a lot of things covering a lot of price points with multiple brands in multiple places makes a big difference,” said NPD Group analyst Stephen Baker.
“Variety is strength when it comes to moving units.”
Android smartphones shipments surged to 136 million, topping those in the same three-month period last year by slightly more than 90 percent, IDC reported.
Samsung’s Galaxy S3 overtook Apple’s iPhone 4S in the third quarter to give the South Korean firm the world’s best-selling smartphone model for the first time ever, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.
“The pace of innovation in Android is faster than Apple,” said Gartner vice president of mobile computing Ken Dulaney. “They are just trying harder; Apple is way behind in that area.”
Android is benefiting from being an “open-source” platform that gadget makers use free of charge and improve as they deem fit, providing Google with insights along the way.
Apple tightly controls its products from the software to the hardware and even the online shop for music, books, games or other content.
“What you get with Android is this incredible feedback loop with developers, equipment makers, customers, and designers,” Dulaney said.
“At Apple, as long as they have a great vision internally it is fine but they don’t have the feedback Android does.”
Having thousands of different Android devices vying for consumers’ cash is a strength when it comes to market share but puts hardware makers into a fiercely competitive arena, Baker noted.
“Other than Samsung, I don’t know if other Android guys are making money,” the analyst said.
Google gives Android away free, but the platform is crafted to make it easy for people to use the California Internet titan’s money-making services such as search and maps, and get content at its online Google Play shop.
Forrester analyst Charles Golvin said that forces powering Android momentum include changing demographics of smartphone buyers.
Early adopters of smartphones focused more on new technology than on price, but the devices have gone mainstream with cost increasingly important to shoppers, according to Golvin.
“People are more inclined toward the Android platform because there is more choice and most of that choice is low price,” Golvin said.
The open nature of Android and the myriad models offered by gadget makers serve as a “double-edged sword,” warned the analyst.
Apple pushes annual updates of iOS mobile operating system out to its devices, while new versions of Android hit more often but must get through hardware makers and telecom services to get onto people’s handsets.
“You have this lengthy chain of intermediaries who are delaying the delivery of that new software and its innovations to existing devices in the market,” Golvin said.
He backed his point by noting that many Android devices in use still run on generations-old versions of the operating system.
Android gadget variety can also make it tough to design accessories or even “apps” that can be used across the array of devices.
For its part, Google has done an excellent job of improving the “ecosystem” of music, films, apps, books and more available for Android-powered devices, according to analysts.
In the red-hot tablet market effectively created by the iPad, strong growth is being seen by Android rivals including Amazon’s popular Kindle Fire and Nook devices from Barnes & Noble, which run custom versions of the software.
Analysts believe that the Google-backed operating system is likely to spread to typically “dumb” gizmos like appliances.
“These platforms are becoming the molecule elements for building all kinds of hybrid devices,” Dulaney said.


Saudi ICT sector holds key to growth, forum told

Updated 20 March 2019
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Saudi ICT sector holds key to growth, forum told

  • 5G will be used in 30% of big cities in Saudi Arabia by 2020
  • 90% of KSA has 4G technology coverage, including remote centers and villages

RIYADH: Information and communications technology (ICT) is one of the main drivers of development in today’s world, a Riyadh forum on “Digital Transformation for an Ambitious Country” has been told.

In his opening speech to the annual Communications and Information Technology Indicators Forum, Abdul Aziz Al-Ruwais, governor of the Communications and Information Technology Commission, said the ICT sector stimulated productivity, enhanced competitiveness and encouraged innovation.

On Wednesday, the Saudi minister of communications and information technology, Abdullah bin Amer Al-Sawaha, joined regional and global leaders in the ICT sector, telecom executives and government officials at the forum.

Al-Ruwais said that ICT has been used to “develop strategies and regulatory policies that can guarantee the availability of infrastructure, basic apparatus and services in all regions of the Kingdom.”

“In order to facilitate the mission of researchers, experts and those interested in telecommunication services indicators, the Communications and Information Technology Commission established an electronic platform that allows the user to have access to indicators and statistics related to the sector. This platform enables the user to view the indicators in the form of tables and detailed graphs,” he said.

Al-Ruwais said the commission has achieved 90 percent coverage of 4G technologies in the Kingdom, including remote centers and villages.

He said the authority has issued temporary licenses for fifth-generation networks, equipping 153 sites with 5G in nine cities. So far, 680 trials were conducted for 5G.

He said that ICT services achieved high indicators during the 2017 Hajj season, with local and international calls totaling 439 million through 16,000 base stations.

Mufarreh Nahari, director of Market Studies at CITC, said: “It is expected that by 2020 the experimental uses of 5G will be fully completed and they will be ready to launch the official 5G sim by then. By the end of 2020 we expect that 5G will be used in 30 percent of the big cities in Saudi Arabia.”

The past three years have seen an increase in internet usage. In 2018, two-thirds of Internet users in the Kingdom used the internet for more than four hours a day, said Nahari.

Ammar Al-Ansari, department head of Country Digital Acceleration at Cisco, said: “The agreements signed by the crown prince during his overseas visits led to the introduction of a number of artificial intelligence (AI) techniques, including virtual schools and smart classrooms.” 

Seven schools in Saudi have a live stream for teachers to connect with their students. They may be 250 km to 300 km apart, but an active learning session takes place between students and educators.

Al-Ansari displayed a video from a teacher in Jeddah giving lessons to students in the northern region via a smart board. AI was used to monitor and analyze students’ attention spans. 

The analysis will help educators update traditional teaching methods.