(This is a guest post by Dave D. from ThisGreenMachine.com. The original article can be found at this link.)
Welcome to musical chairs for the mobile world, where Android is closed, Windows is open, and Steve Jobs is just plain crazy. Each new day seems to reinforce the volatile state of the industry. Glancing back over the past decade paints a dramatic story of changing consumer tastes, flashes of brilliance, and how the current king of the mountain can become Humpty Dumpty the very next day.
The Times, they are A-Changing
It’s strange imagining a world with no iPhone. For some, it’s the only thing they’ve ever known; the New York Times even ran a recent article on how toddlers are now choosing iPhones over traditional toys. It is arguably the most well known single line of tech gadgets today. The fact that Apple has risen to its current level of dominance since the iPhone’s initial release in late 2007 is a testament to Steve Jobs’s incredible vision and execution. But, as displayed in Apple’s latest quarterly earnings call, all might not be well in the House of Jobs. Steve, who almost never speaks on the calls, made a surprise guest appearance. You could almost hear Jobs fidgeting with his crown and scepter as he spent more time lamenting the woes of competitors than the success of iOS. It became almost comical with plenty of “Did he really just say that!?” moments. It appears that Apple is finally acknowledging Android as a real threat.
History Repeats Itself
The cycle of dominance from platform to platform is nothing new. It may be hard to remember, but at one time (2004) Palm held over 50% of the smartphone market in North America, with Symbian coming in second at 30%, for a combined market share of 80%. Just two years later the market was already vastly different: Palm’s market share had plummeted by over half to 20% and Symbian’s to just 10%. In their place Microsoft and RIM were at the forefront with Windows Mobile and BlackBerry devices. Of course, since late 2007 when Apple released iPhone, they have been gaining momentum and market share into 2010. While it may be true that Apple never obtained the top spot in outright US market share during this time from RIM, it would be naïve to believe the iPhone wasn’t the best and most popular smartphone at the time.
The Rise of the Robots
As history has shown, the crown seems to pass from head to head every two to three years. With Apple’s time coming to an end, an unlikely candidate is taking their place. With the release of the Motorola Droid in November of 2009, Android began to emerge as a major player in the mobile universe. Once considered a platform for the nerds, Android has evolved into a full featured mobile operating system adopted by the masses. In an impressive vote of confidence, technology research firm Gartner not only projected Android to reach the top in North America by the end of 2010, but also at the top globally by 2014, a feat no one has been able to achieve since Symbian took the top global spot years ago.
The Line of Succession
The dominance of Android no longer remains a question. Much to the chagrin of Steve Jobs, Android is here to stay. Purchasing an Android phone is no longer a vote for the underdog, but the result of Android’s mass appeal. The real question is who will take the crown next? The only viable threat comes in the form of Microsoft’s newly reinvented Windows Phone 7. While historically no one has come back from past dominance, the complete refresh could be considered an entirely new OS. Only time will tell whether Android can truly stabilize the North American market and control the top for many years to come. I firmly believe the open source nature of Android could finally buck the trend. The key to survival is fast evolution, something not unfamiliar to Android. If anyone can do it, you better believe it’s Google.
References:  New York Times,  Wall St Journal,  Mobile Thoughts Blog,  Gartner,  Wall St Journal