Six or seven years ago, it was above all the older generations who were astonished by people staring at small electronic devices in subways, streets, and cafés. What are they doing? And why aren’t they reading newspapers or books? Just moving their thumbs over a screen almost to a rhythm.
The smartphone is probably one of the most important inventions of the 21st century for consumers… and unsurprisingly, Google is one of the drivers of this pocket-sized revolution. So, in the fifth article in the 20 years of Google series, we’ll explore the question of how a search engine company could develop software called Android, which millions of people use every day.
In your pocket
Well. It has to be admitted that Apple made the smartphone suitable for mass production with the first iPhone, which was released in 2007 and probably got the ball rolling. It took Google one year to bring HTC’s first Android smartphone to market: The T-Mobile G1 (HTC Dream) – at that time still with physical buttons! Android was initially intended to serve digital cameras.
Developed by the Consortium Open Handset Alliance and later purchased by Google, the system is based on several open source technologies, such as Java or the Linux kernel. The aim was and is the dissemination of the mobile operating system on different devices, regardless of the manufacturer. This strategy is contrary to Apple’s approach, as iOS is exclusive to Apple’s own devices.
A similar strategy Microsoft already had with Windows Phone. And both Google and Microsoft were able to prevent Apple from claiming the smartphone (iPhone) or the computer (iMac) for themselves – which did not spoil the success of Apple nevertheless.
A divided world
Google’s strategy came up, you can see that in today’s numbers of users: 85.9 per cent of smartphones sold in 2017 run on Android. Smartphones from Samsung (72 million units sold in the first quarter of 2018) and Huawei (49 million units sold in the first quarter of 2018) are particularly successful at the moment. Incidentally, if you add up the phone sales from Apple and Google, they have a market share of 99.9 per cent – Oh my!
By the way, these numbers of course fuel the arguably most fervent tech dispute since the great browser wars: iOS or Android. Android or iOS? Which is better? Which is more innovative? Does Samsung have a better camera? Why use Apple maps? And so on. And so on.
Here and there
With Maps, Google changed the way we navigate the world. With Google’s search engine, all the world’s knowledge was suddenly discoverable. The perception of space and presence is changing with the use of the smartphone – and Google is involved in the development: Without a smartphone, one is present where one is physically. With a smartphone, you can, for example, be on the beach in the Caribbean and at the same time lead a wild discussion on social networks – you are, virtually, in different places
This may sound esoteric, but it can greatly affect real interpersonal interactions. Because honestly: Who hasn’t looked at their smartphone during a real-life conversation? Because of this society expects so much of us, such as the quick answers to a WhatsApp message.
…Forever and ever?
Also exciting to think about? What comes after the smartphone? The last few generations of smartphones have shown little innovation – both on the software side and on the hardware side. Displays got bigger, operation became more intuitive, batteries last a few hours longer, and you can now charge your smartphone wirelessly. But will we carry a device of whatever kind in our pockets at all times, allowing us access to distant, virtual places?
Here and now
Although we can not answer this question yet, it is certain that the smartphone will be indispensable for everyday life and business in the foreseeable future – whether as a sales channel, source of information, or means of payment. A mobile strategy should therefore be able to respond to these multiple scenarios and support innovative shopping experiences.
Trends after the smartphone
Although we can’t tell you for sure what it guaranteed to be the next big thing, like the smartphone, we can take a look at what’s trending now and what will in the future. dotSource and Handelskraft digital analyst team has created their annual edition of the Trend Book, this year being the first that it’s available in English! Now you have access to this information that’s available for retailers, manufacturers, and publishers alike.
Take a look and download it for free, now!