Android is Losing Momentum

on March 29, 2012

I wrote a column earlier this year titled “2012: The Year Google Fixes Android or Loses the War.” In that column I laid out a number of issues facing Android as well as the business reasons why many problems existed. When we think about Android we need to remember that Google is an advertising company and that is how they think. With that in mind Google’s platform decisions will be made with that agenda. This point needs to be clear, Google is an advertising company, Apple is an experience company.

Recently as well ZDNet writer Jason Perlow wrote an interesting article on why he is “sick to death of Android.” In fact if you survey the media sentiment toward Android over the past six months you will see that much of the excitement is gone and it has moved to frustration. With these observations in mind it comes as no surprise that recent Nielsen data gives evidence of Android’s momentum slowdown and what I believe will be inevitable market share decline.

Over the past six month’s iOS has closed the gap in smart phone platform share. Look at this data from Nielsen released about smart phone acquirers for the October 2011-December 2011 time frame. Then look at the data this morning Nielsen released and what you will see is that iOS closed the gap on Android platform share with buyers over the past 6 month’s with recent purchasers. In fact if you look back over the past 9 months you will see the momentum change. Since I was interested in this data I created a graph here using Nielsens data of smart phone buyers over the past 9 months.

Prior to June of 2011 Android was on an upswing then as you can see the months after with recent smart phone purchasers momentum has shifted. I anticipate that this trend of Android’s decline and momentum loss will continue unless Google shows me something to convince me otherwise. If developer interest, OEM support, market interest, etc, all continue to decline as it is right now then it would not surprise me that by the end of 2013 Android will no longer be the dominant OS platform in smart phones–at least in mature markets. This is of course contrary to much of the data and forecasts put out by my analyst colleagues but I believe momentum shift is happening just not in the same direction they do.

This actually opens the door for Windows Phone in my opinion. AT&T has been very vocal about being aggressive with the Nokia Lumia 900. Sascha Segan wrote a great article yesterday titled “Windows Phone Smokes Android, But Can’t Sell” . He highlights Windows Phone and how high it ranks in net promoter scores. We track net promoter scores closely because it represents user sentiment and specifically about their potential to recommend. Interestingly net promoter scores with the Nokia Lumia devices are very high.

The momentum downswing of Android and the inevitable decline of inventory as more OEMs support Windows Phone as well is why I agree with my colleagues at IDC that there is a platform shift taking place. However I believe iOS for sure and potentially Windows Phone are the longer term winners, unless Google can make some market moves to convince me otherwise.