Android=Microsoft's OS in the 1990s. That's the view of Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, who this week compared Android's growth and increasing dominance among mobile platforms to Microsoft's position among desktop systems at the end of the last century. In both situations, interestingly enough, Apple was second.
Schmidt's comments were made in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek on Tuesday. Schmidt noted that customers are activating more than 1.3 million Android devices each day. He described this situation as "a huge platform change," equivalent to Microsoft triumphing over Apple two decades ago.
'Winning that War'
Schmidt said Android was "winning that war pretty clearly now." He described the Android side as "we," which, in this historical instance, includes not only Google but its wide ecosystem of hardware partners, carriers, retailers and others, many of whom are customizing the open source Android for their purposes.
The overwhelming numerical superiority of Android is not unlike Microsoft's operating system heyday with Windows. Last month, for instance, an IDC report was one of several studies to show Android's overwhelming market share dominance -- 75 percent for Android, 15 percent for Apple, and only 2 percent for Windows Phone 7/Windows Mobile. What's even more impressive is Android's year-over-year growth: 91.5 percent.
Accompanying the IDC report, IDC Mobile Phones Research Manager Ramon Llamas said in a statement that, in every year since Android was launched in 2008, the platform has "effectively outpaced the market and taken market share from the competition." He added that the volumes of shipments have been driven by the "combination of smartphone vendors, mobile operators and end users."
'A Bigger Pie'
However, nothing lasts forever, especially not in technology. IDC has also predicted that, while Android currently occupies a period of dominance in smartphones that will last for at least five years, the Windows Phone platform will experience a 71 percent annual growth rate, reaching 11 percent market share by 2016 -- and possibly become a challenger.
In both Google's and Microsoft's cases, the dominant operating system in their respective time periods did not control the hardware, which has been a key driver of their successes. But Google, unlike Microsoft, has given away its OS. Schmidt said that the reasoning behind that strategy was to "make a bigger pie" for Google to sell ads and provide apps and services -- and, recently, a few hardware products -- but the consequence is that the pie is neither "perfectly controlled" or managed.
On Wednesday, another Google executive demonstrated the company's confidence that its platform is in the driving seat. Clay Bavor, product management director for Google Apps, said the company was not planning on developing any of its apps for Windows Phone or Windows 8 tablets or PCs.
Bavor told news media that Google is "very careful" about investing its resources on popular platforms, and, at the moment, users "are not on Windows Phone or Windows 8." If the user base increases, Bavor said, Google could change its position.