Share this Story

Is the End Near for Android? [Opinion]

Lately Business Insider (BI) has been announcing the imminent death of Android based on iPhone and iPad sales, reported disinterest in the platform by developers, and upset manufacturers. According to a handful of their writers, Android is poised to lose market share to both iOS and Windows Phone. Is the end near for Android?

The Tablet Problem

A couple of these writers are right to point out that the continued great sales of the iPhone and the iPad spell trouble for Android. While Android has continued to hold its own in the phone space despite carriers like Verizon selling more iPhones than all Android phones combined for two quarters, Android has been a disaster in the tablet space. Despite two major versions of Android for tablets, consumers have not taken to Google’s vision of how a tablet should look and feel. Based on analysts’ estimates, the Kindle Fire is the best selling Android tablet with 54% of the Android tablet market.

Why hasn’t Android been successful in the tablet space like it has been in the phone space? BI rightly identifies that Apple partnering with AT&T exclusively likely had much to do with Android’s success, but the tablet market is not the phone market. I am convinced that Android has not been successful in the tablet space because Android is significantly better on phones compared to tablets. The reason people are buying Fires is because they are cheap and the UI is dirt simple if inelegant. I cannot emphasize enough how certain I am that the main reason people buy Fires is because of the price, not the quality of the product. People are buying the Fire over a Galaxy Tab or Transformer because it is cheaper and good enough. So why are people buying iPads over Tabs and Transformers? Because at that price the iPad has a better ecosystem and experience.

So how does Google break into the tablet space? Make a product that is significantly better than the iPad. This isn’t rocket science. People aren’t buying Android tablets because they are around the same price as the iPad, which offers a better experience. Honeycomb was rushed, jittery, and buggy. Google should have waited to release it. ICS is gorgeous on phones, but just as disjointed as Honeycomb on tablets. The Kindle Fire may be the best selling Android tablet, but that doesn’t make it a strong competitor with the iPad. The only way to fight the iPad is with a better product.  Why did consumers buy the DROID instead of a Blackberry or a Touch Pro2 or Pre Plus? Because the DROID offered an obviously superior experience. Now that Android and iOS are in parity on phones, Google needs to ensure that the Android tablet ecosystem and experience are in parity or give up on tablets.

Disinterested Developers

BI argues that developers are becoming less interested in Android based on Instagram trying to sell itself for $500 million before the Android version was released, thereby insisting that it was valuable enough without an Android version. Louis goes even further, arguing that  developers will soon be leaving Android for Windows Phone. Both of these arguments are insane to me.

BI readily admits that the massive number of Instagram downloads on Android influenced Facebook’s decision to double Instagram’s initial evaluation, but he doesn’t give it enough credit. It’s one thing to pay more than the company is supposed to be worth, but to double the value is significant. Facebook has a ton of money, but that doesn’t mean it can just throw $1 billion around without consequence. Facebook clearly recognized that with an Android app it could reach far more users (and ensure that it would control Instagram instead of Twitter).

Based on BI’s own numbers, interest in Android development has hardly waned while Windows Phone and iOS have plateaued and Blackberry has plummeted. In general Android users don’t buy as many apps as iPhone users, but because of Android’s volume of users developers are still able to make money through ad sales. While developers may be more interested in platforms where their apps are actually purchased, the alternatives are two: iOS and Windows Phone. Many developers write apps for both iOS and Android to cover the largest number of users, but I can’t imagine why developers would start to favor Windows Phone over Android. Even if Windows Phone users were more prone to buy apps than Android users, the insignificant number of Windows Phone users don’t justify the switch in emphasis.


The final threat to Android is manufacturer discontent with Google buying Motorola. According to BI’s sources, manufacturers are considering forking Android or leaving for Windows Phone to avoid favoritism by Google towards Motorola. The question is, why would manufacturers like HTC and Samsung try their luck with forking or leaving Android?

While the Fire has been successful, it hasn’t been successful because it was a forked version of Android. It has been successful because a company that people actually recognized sold a cheap Android tablet. Forking Android wouldn’t solve any manufacturers worries – they’d still have to compete with Motorola and Google on top of competing with Apple. Forking Android may allow manufacturers to make their skins more integrated, but it would mean relying on the Amazon App Store (or their own forked app store). Unless forking Android meant creating an obviously superior experience then it doesn’t make sense for manufacturers to fork Android.

The even more insane option would be for manufacturers to leave Android, the only thing making them money, for Windows Phone. Windows Phone doesn’t have a large user base and doesn’t offer an ecosystem or experience that is competitive with iOS or Android. More importantly, shifting to Microsoft puts manufacturers in the same situation they’re facing with Google thanks to the Nokia-Microsoft partnership (Microkia? Nokisoft?). Why be in the same situation with fewer users? Even if Google does favor Motorola, manufacturers don’t have any appealing alternatives to Android under Google’s approval.

Is Android coming to an end? Not at all, but that doesn’t mean that Google has an easy road ahead of them. The reality is that the issues brought up by Business Insider are real (blown out of proportion, but real). Google needs to do better in the tablet space, maintain good developer relations, and continue to support its OEM partners. iOS is a growing threat in the phone space and continues to dominate in the tablet space. Developers may need to support Android now, but its possible that Microsoft or Google (or another party) could disrupt the ecosystem. Google also needs to be careful with how it uses Motorola so that it doesn’t upset the Android ecosystem by trying to compete with its partners. Android has a long future ahead of it, but it is a future lined with problems that need to be addressed by Google.

  • Stuhtc3d

    I own a kindle fire, and an HTC EVO 3D, great price for hardware, much prefer a 7″ to a 10″, too bad I can’t get apps without a US credit card, stunning near high definition screen, for $200, listening to word files. Don’t like Amazon’s walled universe any more than Apple’s, Waiting for nexus tab 7″, Jelly Bean, for less than a new iPhone, I get 3D thrown in for free, search for free, more free apps than apple. So what if they’res adds, they’res adds on apple too, and I don’t freak out because they’re on TV when I get free high def movies. Too bad I can’t edit this some things just ain’t made for Android, eg. there’s not they’res.

  • Jeff

    What happened to the old DROID DOES CAMPAIGN?? Now I know that the droid name doesn’t mean as much now but get a Transformer prime and ipad 3 and compare them. The commercial would probably bring more public awareness to what everyone is missing…. I personally love my Gtab10.1 that I bought one for my wife. Hell my 2 year old has the 7″Gtab (entertainment galore!) 

  • panzerapple

    No comment for me I will let the numbers speak for themselves.

  • Stephen D

    No. These articles by Ron all blow. 

  • Ben

    Under 200 comments Ron?  The VZW 4.0.4 update schedule has more and it only impacts one phone model from one vendor on one wireless network.

    Step your game up pal… throw something in there about fragmentation and include a note about how google glasses suck balls.

  • Eazy E Dlf

    i could write a better opinion than this…with my anus

  • Just curious: why are most of the opinion articles written by Ron?

    Also, I know HTC is already making phones that run Windows Phone. Isn’t Samsung doing the same thing too?

    • droidman101

      Yes, just not on verizon.

  • Ramp1188


    • CORYK333

      Please go away

    • Diablo81588

      Dude that’s enough. I sure will be glad when the nexus update finally comes out so people will stop whining about it. FFS..

  • NO,, in my opinion party has just started for android!! 
    we would see an insane increasing this year with jelly beans ..

  • Shaun.Ober

    Windows Phone ???? Please. I forgot they still make thoese

  • tervorsalienarms

    I used to enjoy reading truly insightful pieces about the tech industry, especially mobile devices. I generally found them enjoyable and would often come away having learned something, or gotten a perspective I didn’t previously have.

    Now, it seems there’s only opinion; or worse, extremely poorly informed opinion thinly disguised and cheaply wrapped in psuedo-business speak in a vain attempt to elevate the material as something legitimately news-worthy. Barely any of it comes from the actual sources that unfortunately find themselves the subject of the material; and at the end of the day it all boils down to the same “us vs. them.” (Which perhaps is the purest form of competition and capitalism I suppose…the nature of our world and industry.)

    Still, these articles have become incredibly tiresome. Nothing presented here is based on facts or hard data, it’s speculation heaped on top of speculation that adds absolutely zero value to anything. In fact, it’s far worse. However sketchy this material is, it will spawn and grow; rolling downhill like a snowball, picking up links and fwds, perhaps kicking off and spawning even more speculative nonsense in other forms as it goes. Before you know it, half baked graphs and charts are being re-used ad naseum as weapons of questionable accuracy intended to deflate countering opinions. 

    There’s no credibilty in any of this. Self-styled business “analysts” with precisely zero actual business experience are beholden as “reliable sources”. Rarely, if ever, does information that comes from the sources themsleves, and in such a vacuum, bloviation such as this pervades every corner of the web.

    The ultimate irony of course, is posting a pointless complaint about pointless unsubstantiated material. This difference of course, is that I do not purport to be an expert or privvy to any significant insider information, just a guy with an opinion. Be nice if we could all realize that in most cases, that’s all these types of “news items” are as well, and as such should be granted exactly that much weight.

  • jeff3yan

    I wish the whole Android, iOS dominance would be superseded by some disruptive new player.

  • Androidandwp7equalsPower

    Why are you reading BI? They always bash Android and praise ios and macs. Anyone else remember when they tried to blame the FlashBack virus on mac users rather then admitting its Apple’s fault.

  • iNfAMOUS70702

    i swear you guys complaining about the article just look silly….you guys bash each other when someone doesnt like your favorite product (even though they’re also a fan of android)…refuse to spell IPHONE and now troll a guy for writing HIS OPINION on android?…what he wrote has some truth to it…fandroids are bigger sheep than apple fanboys these days..personally i like both platforms….why limit myself to just one ecosystem? 

    • CORYK333

      Best comment & probably the most reasonable too, well said

  • Christian Bennett

    Like many people are saying, the problem is capturing the attention of the average person. Android really doesn’t do that. While apple has one centralized, top down push for their products, android has smaller, disconnected marketing. Apple controls every aspect of how their product is presented. In store displays, demo units, where their product is displayed and what a sales person can and can’t say about it. No android OEM has close to this level of control of their product, and the result is less interest from the common man. They see the apple as a polished productand the slew of competing devices (mind you that these are in a desperate, less prominent, more cluttered display) as haphazard. Mind you I fundimentally despise apple, I am not so blind as to not see the effectiveness of their methods.

  • I hardly think Google is worried.

  • I dont believe Android will vanish in my life time…

    • Stuhtc3d

      They might be as short lived as IBM.

  • The real number on instagram was 500mil before android 2billion after. Zuckerberg talked it down to 1 bil. Just a little useful info.

    I’ve read a lot of the android “death articles” and they all seem to be grasping. Trying to create controversy that isn’t really there.

    • I hadn’t seen the $2 billion number reported. Interesting. 

  • balthuszar

    if the kindle fire sold so well, and the writer thinks it was because of it’s price…why not drop the price of android tablets? i’ve always asked “why pay 6-700 dollars for a tablet when i could take that 6-700 and buy a decent laptop…and not be tied to a certain network(wifi versions be damned)

    • Diablo81588

      Amazon takes a loss on every fire they sell. They make their money by selling content and services on the device. Not every manufacturer has this business model. That’s besides the fact that the fire has a relatively small screen, and not all customers want that. Hell, with the current trend in screen sizes for phones, pretty soon 7 inch screens will be the norm. Why not just buy a phone instead of having two seperate devices with the same functionality?

      • balthuszar

        i still would rather pay 700 dollars for a 17″ laptop than a 10″ tablet, i can’t see spending 700 dollars on a touchscreen, and operating system, and nothing else…

  • Mark Wilk

    Bring back WebOS

  • Austinrgoebel

    I agree android is successful but they have to look at ways to increase their sucess, then need a well quality google tablet that may take a 6 months to build, it needs to compete directly with the ipad. Also consumers need to know it competes with the ipad, google has a big enough name they just need a ipad killer, i would focus on perfecting ics on tablets then focus on a screen technology that is equal if not better then the retna display, battery life needs to be pushed as well. Have a better that can last 18 hrs on 4g, also make a high quality design.Google can easily make a tab to compete with the ipad they just need to focus more on it. Also the nexus is a clear example that google has no favoritism with moto, as long as google spreds the android ove with htc and sammie then there should be no issues

    • Austinrgoebel


    • CORYK333

      Well thought out & said dude. It just sucks that this is gonna get lost in the non-stop sh!t storm of usual b.s. that gets posted here by the same ass-clowns & dweebs that think they are “tech-savy” bc they followed step-by-step instructions to root their phone.

  • burpootus

    I bought a DroidX on launch day. After seeing all the cool stuff going on with the original Droid, I thought the locked bootloader was going to be easily defeated. We all know how that turned out. I will never buy another Motorola product. ICS has been out since last October, roughly 15 months after I bought my DriodX and the X is not going to be updated. Big bummer. I could easily see myself switching away from Android this summer when my contract is up.
    I bought a Toshiba Thrive last August. I could see right from the beginning that I bought an Android tablet way too early in the development of these tablets. I should’ve took it back but I kept it. ICS out since October, still only rumors of getting it on the Thrive. Every update that gets pushed out on both of these devices tries to mess with root. We are told one of the reasons is because of Google Movies and other such crap, when you can take part in the same services on a computer while being root or an administrator. All of these devices, IOS, Android, and probably Windows Phone which I know nothing about, are pushing us into a computing world where we are not even root users of our own hardware!! It’s beyond crazy that we allow this as consumers. I’m not going to have a basketball shooting app that also accesses my contacts and my GPS location, without controlling this behavior!! We’ve all descended into computer craziness. I can easily see myself not buying another Android product, and further more leaving these types of devices altogether if I can’t be the root user of the device and control the permissions of the apps it runs.

  • Charles

    Unfortunately, this is all true. I am a huge Android fan myself, but the G-Nex is officially my last purchase. The circus with my LTE Xoom update was the final straw. I will slip over to the dark side with my next phone. Apple products are more consistent, stable and reliable, hands down. It pains me to say it, but I can’t deny it.

    • Droid_Dude

      My Gnex is very stable and reliable for me :). The day you see me switch over to the padded, walled ecosystem of Apple is also the same day you seem me get thrown in my own padded room.

      • Charles

        Therein lies the problem and one of my biggest complaints: Android phones aren’t even consistent between the same handset. I’m glad yours has been problem-free, as have many other G-New owners. Unfortunately, there’s also a huge group of us that have been plagued from the start with the random reboots and poor battery life. Finally had to root and ROM to fix my problems, which is a downright shame.

        • Ilikeeverything

          Exactly! That’s why I returned my Nexus for the iPhone. Too many “issues” that I didn’t want to deal with for the next two years. There are many things I miss having with the Nexus (google wallet was so much fun) and that screen – wow) but I dont regret leaving at all. For me the iphone works well, has a good battery life, very little “issues” and the apps are awesome (android apps suck – and at the time when I had first purchased the Nexus many of the apps were incompatible or just didnt work.

          • Charles

            Agreed, my friend. The app consistency is terrible. I was absolutely appalled that the March Madness app wasn’t available for the hottest Android phone on the market – the G-Nex. That’s absolute insanity! My friend has an old HTC and is streaming the NCAA tournament, while I sit there like an idiot with my shiny new phone watching a box score. Although it is denied by the fanboys (which I myself was at one time too), there’s definitely a huge “fragmentation” problem. It has created a nightmare for app developers.

  • Windows Phone? Good one.

  • It’s the classic keeping up with the Jones’ situation when it comes to ianything it’s isheik. 

  • speraider430

    I think the AT&T exclusivity is a very relevant point.  If Apple had opened up to other carriers 12-18 months earlier than they did there would not be much Android to speak of.  The iPad is a great device because of the simplicity, the fact that a grandmother or  toddler can use it.  Android phones have the pricing and diversity advantage.  I love having a choice when buying a phone!

  • star-crossed

    I’d start by looking at the shortcomings of the iPad, and what they could do better. I have an 1st-gen iPad, and it’s too big and heavy to hold comfortably with one hand, and its weight makes it a drag to carry around in a bag while walking about.

    My primary interest in a tablet is as a comic book reader.  I tried comics on a Kindle Fire, and the overall device performance, display quality and resolution was too low-grade, in my opinion. A 1024×600 display makes text and graphics look coarse, and that’s true for the iPad’s 1024×768 display as well. Sure, the iPad 3’s display would be the type of upgrade I’d be interested in, but the size and weight issue would persist.

    So if there was a Android tablet that had the same form-factor as a regular Kindle, with a 6 to 7-inch 1280×800 display, around $300, that would be the device for me.

  • Nick

    Apple is made for dummies.  Look how easy their stuff is to use!  Nerds, geeks, techies want to play with things and not be strapped down and doped up with mediocrity. If not Android, there will be another OS for us to play with.   

    • ApplesNAndroids

      Its people like you that make android useres look retarded. You obviously have no idea about the jailbreak community and limitless options the iphone can have, or even has. Go rom your phone so it’ll work better.

  • Chet Stovepiper

    How about some android commercials that actually show what the thing can do instead of robots and cyborgs and lightning storms. 

  • Sam Shedd

    Good analysis. 

    One thing to remember is that the Fire is a *Kindle* Fire. Many people think of it as a color kindle, not comparable to an ipad or xoom. It also was able to feed off the of the Kindle consumer base itself more readily than android, just as ipad off the iphone. Finally the price point for the Fire was cheaper than the kindle 2 originally was. Amazon already had all those people convinced $200+ was worth it, now they offered a tablet version for less.

  • vawwyakr

    I don’t get the tablet problem myself, I have a transformer prime so maybe it’s just that the prime can run ICS so well that I don’t see the problems others have?  I don’t know, but to me it seems every bit as good as the iPad and better in many respects.  I think the main thing is that Apple has HUGE name recognition in the tablet space thanks to the media.  They throw up all over themselves whenever Apple so much as sends out a brochure for the thing.  The only news you see on Android tablets is the occasional mention of them not doing well compared to the iPad.

  • Dliuzzo110

    Advertising advertising advertising! ALOT of people still don’t know what android is, or how big it actually is. “Cult of brand” is very sad but very true. If goolge made all the oem’s put one nice visible polished android logo on all devices, people could see how widespread android really is,thus starting its own cult of brand just by word ofmouth. Few good commercials, badabing badaboom

  • Sven Enterlein

    In my opinion the biggest success for the iDevice series is convenience: You don’t need to get used to a different OS-skin, you can use the same charger/USB cable across the board, there are more accessories (cases, docks, chargers, protectors etc.) out there than virgins, you only have one choice of media manager and so on. 
    Whereas when you go Android you have to deal with all kinds of adjustments, even when you stay with one manufacturer. This will not only create problems for the user that is not willing to but new accessories over and over again, but also for the providers of these accessories. Why make a product that will sell 100,000 times if you could easily make a similar product and sell it 100-fold? Same with the apps. 
    There needs to be some kind of incentive apart from hardcore modding that will allow the broad audience to realize the superiority of the Android OS. Right now that is only the free or budget handsets that carriers offer.

  • Gary Patrowicz

    yes just like the end is near for linux open source means they are not charging you and where is the fun in that.(sarcasm)

  • Hello

    The Android OS is over saturated. It’s everywhere. You know why the country loves football? Because its for the most part once a week and lasts a third of the year. We beg for more. No one can keep up with all the Android devices and it’s all becoming tired.

  • jaxxmjd

    I would certainly be happy if Google could help make Android
    for tablets more appealing to the masses as long as they can do so
    without “dumbing down” the OS unreasonably.

  • jaxxmjd

    The only thing the writers of Business Insider have an inside view of is their own rectums. 

    • Stuhtc3d

      Don’t forget businesses brought us countless recessions, depressions, company crashes, wars, unemployment, let’s show some gratitude, and give them more than four times executive pay because they deserve more for their vast achievements this last decade. As well as their stunning work in bringing us a fourty year great stagnation, whereas China only grew by fourty times in the thirty year’s of Reganomics. How dare you suggest Business intelligence is an absolute oxymoron.

  • Jimneezy

    I still think before things get out of hand, have Google take total control of everything that is android.

  • Realistic87

    No one is interested in windows phones, even I would rather have an iPhone over a windows phone and I hate apple everything

  • TimXer

    ICS on my Transformer Prime rocks! to me:) It’s a superior performer to the iPad2 certainly, 3 I haven’t touched so cannot say.  When we talk about fragmentation – that is a huge part of the problem – too many choices – need fewer, better choices!

  • Ike

    It seems Android is trying to win the game with quantity and Apple is trying to win the game with quality.

    • JeffDenver

      The PC did the same thing in the desktop market…who won that war?

  • Sp4rxx


    Seems like you and Joe Wilcox from BetaNews are click-bait buddies

  • WickedToby741

    In all honesty, Google probably needs to sell Motorola. Who they’d sell them to, I don’t know, but if they sell the hardware division they’ll ease concerns of other manufacturers and they don’t really need a hardware division. Besides, Samsung is clearly the darling of Android like Nokia is to Microsoft. I just don’t see Motorola of any use to Google. If Google uses Motorola to make phones the way Google wants them made, then they’ll alienate other manufacturers, but if they just leave Motorola to do their own thing, then what’s the point in owning them?

    • Patent Library. The primary and most significant reason for the acquisition. In order to strengthen Google’s foothold against the Patent Trolling bully, Apple.

  • Antinorm

    Android losing market share to Windows Phone?  BWAHAHAHAHA

    And it’s not going to be overtaken by iOS either.  Let the Apple drones have their toys; we’ll keep ours.

    • Anyone remember that BIG, wide-spread publicized screw up by Microshaft when they tried to gyp a Nexus user after he SMOKED one of their employee’s attempt to compete toe to toe with the GNex? I rest my case.

  • Towelie420

    HDMI output and Bluetooth controller = portable game console. I really feel like this is a missed opportunity for Google. If they wanted to, they could get behind this ability, encourage and incentivise developers, and perhaps make a unique official Google Bluetooth controller (MUST have two analog sticks) to unify and streamline the experience from tablet to tablet. Think about that for a second guys.

  • Not true about the developer thingy

  • br_hermon

    Ok, I hear your argument… And don’t get me wrong, I LOVE android. I hope it rises and stays on top. But the one thing you’re forgetting is Windows 8. I think Microsoft is onto something huge here. I’ve played with it, and its ok. In truth, I’m not crazy about it in some regards but the reach its implementation has is massive… Let me explain: Microsoft is huge. Millions of people use Windows when they go to work. They’re an industry standard, flat out. Not only work but on their home PCs as well. MS already has a huge foot in the door of every living room and work space. (May as well include Xbox in that too) If they take Windows 8 and put it on those PCs, on tablets (and not only MS tablets but thanks to the likes of Splashtop, iPads too!) AND merge it with Windows Phone… LOOK OUT! 
    It’s all inclusive ecosystem. An OS with that much consumer base penetration can’t be ignored. Windows Mobile sucked, hard, I used it for 2 years. But MS totally restarted from the ground up with Metro and now Windows 8. They learned from their mistakes and now they’re on a dead sprint. Adaptation is going to make or break them. We’ll see.

    So what can Android do? Follow suit. People can have an Apple computer, iphone and ipad. They can have a Windows PC, phone and tablet. Google needs to expand they’re coverage as well or they may have a difficult time. There’s Windows, OS X and in a distant 3rd Linux (in that order) Linux is great but it just doesn’t have the attention of the average consumer. Ask your avg american and they’ll probably say they’ve never even heard of Linux. If Google isn’t careful, Apple and MS will flex their muscle into all the markets and it will be MS, Apple and Android/Chrome OS (that’s a whole other can of worms. Hey Google identity crisis anyone?)

    Just my $.02

    • CORYK333

      It’s all about the seemless intergration….and it’s def. coming with Microsofts new baby. Great post by the way.

    • Stuhtc3d

      Android, ios, and chrome have one big advantage over MS, they’re not bloatware, 32Gb for win7 office 2010, sure I need ms for the server, but they’re no good at tight code.

  • gorkon

    This article assumes TOO much.  

    First, it “assumes” that because of the Instagram thing that developer shave lost intrest….couldn’t be further from the truth.  Just look in Play for the tons and tons of apps that there are.  That and there are FAR MORE independent ROMS out there now than there has been in a long time. 

    Second, it assumes that since tablets have not beat the iPad in sales that it’s a failure.  I say check with Asus.  They’ve sold a bunch of tablets.  Plus I have an 80 year old pastor at my church who chose a Galaxy Tab over an iPad.   The problem isn’t one that consumers don’t like the Android tablet experience….it’s that they may not even know about it.

  • Hypothetically speaking, if Android did cease to exist, I’d probably go back to dumb phones, before I go to Apple

  • guard her

    Yep the BI behind all this just had to move back in with his parents because android is taking All their money. BI never heard of them and never will again. Life fail wol

    • teh_Jughead

       I think the new spin is to tell everyone you’re letting your parents live with you.