For the first time in over a decade, Android dropped to second place position in the US, behind the iPhone. The open and free operating system, which still equips the majority of phones in the world, is present on devices of Samsung, Motorola and OnePlus. Even when paired with budget brands like TCL, Nokia and Blu, Android-powered devices can’t outsell iPhone sales in the US.
From a global perspective, Apple’s dominance is an aberration. The US, Canada and Japan are the only countries where Apple has an advantage over Android. Elsewhere, Android is mostly common on your mind.
Android’s delay is a testament to the cachet Apple has built around the iPhone franchise. From celebrities photographed in cafes with an iPhone to their ears to entertainment hosts chatting with an Apple Watch strapped to their wrist, Apple products are both a function and a fashion of the American aristocratic class. And thanks to iMessage, Apple has created a messaging divide where the “haves” enjoy blue bubble gardens and the “have-nots” are relegated to green misery. Even movie villains can’t be filmed with an iPhone.
But there is reason to be optimistic about Android’s attempt to reclaim the crown in the US. Google is building an ecosystem to surround the Pixel 7, especially with the introduction of the Pixel Watch. A Pixel tablet is planned for next year. And Android has its own rabid fanbase, even if they’re not on a Hollywood movie set.
So what can Google do to make Android relevant again in the US? Here are some clues.
Doubling the ecosystem
Google took too long to release the Pixel Watch, leaving the Apple Watch to act as a Trojan horse and keep people locked in Apple’s backyard.
“Apple has such a sticky ecosystem. Especially the watch, once you buy that watch, you’re locked into an iPhone.” said Techsponential analyst Avi Greengart. Google did not experience this until this year. “And even his first watch is really a 1.0 product”.
Google’s slowness in bringing the Pixel Watch to market makes the Apple Watch possible stay far ahead. At least now there’s an option for Pixel owners to not feel left out.
The American market differs from the rest of the world in that there is much less competition in the Android space. Concerns about Chinese tech companies tracking American consumers have prevented brands such as Huawei, Xiaomi and Oppo from operating in the United States. So there are only a handful of brands that can sell alternatives apart from Samsung and Google.
“Having more devices on the market also gives providers more choices of devices to give away for free or promote more,”
said Anshel Sag, analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.
Lack of manufacturer diversity is just one of the problems facing Google. The iPad line remains a hugely popular second-screen device that serves as a gateway to the Internet for toddlers and seniors alike. Only one high-quality Android tablet comes to mind with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus, but its software isn’t nearly as polished as the iPad OS, and it often feels like it’s a widescreen version of Android. Google has already announced a “premium” Pixel tablet for 2023, but it will have to really impress to attract the crowd of consumers trained to consider iPads the tablet of choice.
Unfortunately, there is one area where Google may not be able to offer a viable competitor to Apple portable and off home computers. Google’s Chromebooks are good, affordable laptops for basic tasks, but they lack the power and flexibility to deliver macOS and Windows functionality. This is a market that has already been cut out of Apple and Microsoft, making it difficult for Google to create a viable alternative. And even if it did, the installed base would be so small that it wouldn’t attract the best developers. In this case, the best option for Google is to continue to better integrate its products with Mac and Windows machines to provide an experience comparable to iPhone and Mac.
One area where Google dominates Apple is in smart home. Cupertino is rarely quick to jump into new product categories, as evidenced by years of rumors surrounding Apple’s supposed VR/AR headset and Apple Car. The company has tried to make an effort on home devices with HomeKit, but it has been forgotten. It is Google, on the other hand very present in the smart home with its voice assistant-enabled displays, like the Nest Hub, and its WiFi, Doorbell and Nest Camera products.
Unfortunately, the smart home industry has stagnated with a dizzying array of competing products confusing consumers. Someone who has an Amazon Alexa smart speaker may not be sure that it will work with their Google Nest doorbell.
This is where matter comes in, one universal smart home standard which will allow new household appliances, regardless of brand, to communicate with each other. Even Apple, the company that likes to create walled gardens, has joined in Connected Standards Alliancealong with Amazon, Google, Samsung, Ikea, Lutron, Signify and others.
“This is an area where Google could take advantage, building more of these controls or exposing them more in Android,” Greengart said. This includes creating a person’s website, widgets, and creating connections between multiple devices. Greengart said it was up to Google to let people know thatsmart home interoperability can best be done on Android.
Beat Apple in innovation
That Google Product Events keep getting better, bringing greater production value and greater fanfare, but they still can’t quite capture the same magic that Apple has. The Cupertino, California company still has this ability create enthusiasm for its range of products and services. Executives’ enthusiastic speeches, combined with quality production, can make it appear that Apple is bringing the latest in technology and innovation, although this is not always the case.
High-refresh-rate displays, optical image stabilization, and laser autofocus, all features that Apple raves about, came to Android first.
But there are consumers who don’t stop at fancy macro shots and want to be the first to do so discover new technologies. This is one area where Google should redouble its efforts to appeal to enthusiasts.
There are already rumors of a foldable Pixel device that could compete with Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4.
” I think [Samsung] really starting to take off in this area. And I think it can be seen, but the problem is the price, right? », Said Case. If Samsung can continue to lower the price of foldable devices, it will help increase the popularity of the category, which will lead to more competition.
“As a result, competition is likely to equal more sales and more competitive pricing.”
Google has also heavily advertised Pixel features like live translation.you in its ad for the 2022 World Cup. The Pixel 7 is also the official smartphone for NBA fans this season with an ad featuring player Giannis Antetokounmpo and actor Simu Liu. Google is also said to have placed the largest order of Pixel 7 devices, more than any previous iteration. Regardless of known sales and endorsements, Google needs to make the Pixel felt premium and exclusive, almost banning the fundamental vision of Android as a free and open source operating system. Because if Apple’s success is any indication, people like to feel like they’re in the “crowd.”
CNET.com article adapted by CNET France