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But what is the commercial opportunity around Android?
Android has stormed to the forefront of the mobile OS landscape in the last year or so, rivaled in popularity and mindshare only by Apple’s iOS. According to Google, more than 100 million Android devices have been activated to date, at a rate of more than 400,000 activations daily as of last month. Considering all the excitement and momentum behind this platform, ISVs have been scrambling to grab a piece of the Android pie, which, in terms of commercial support and services, VDC expects to grow by more than 65% in 2011.
However, a key question remains – what exactly is the commercial opportunity around Android?
The appeal of Android is rooted in its highly integrated software stack, which includes audio, bluetooth, camera, GPS, graphical user interface, radio, WiFi, and other functionality. Android’s success in the mobile space – led by Google, AT&T, HTC, Motorola, Samsung, Verizon, and others – has inspired OEMs to evaluate the use of this platform in a variety of other types of devices, particularly those that place a premium on connectivity requirements, sophisticated user interaction, and application availability. However, Google has to this point remained primarily focused on smartphones and tablets, although the company did announce the Android Accessory Development Kit (ADK) and demonstrate the Android@Home framework for home automation at Google I/O earlier this month.
While Android’s integrated software stack is perhaps the platform’s most attractive attribute, the stack was designed primarily for mobile phones and the ARM architecture, which creates challenges for engineers attempting to build other types of Android-based devices. Given these challenges, VDC believes the key commercial opportunity around Android involves providing the tools and professional services that can enable engineers to optimize this platform for use on non-ARM architectures in a variety of vertical market applications.
Until Google shifts its primary focus for Android beyond smartphones and tablets, VDC expects that OEMs, ISVs, and the engineering community will be the principal drivers of the platform into new markets. This represents a tremendous opportunity for ISVs to leverage their domain expertise and capitalize on the extraordinary growth of Android to grow their own revenue streams and expand their customer bases.
Currently, the commercial market for Android related software solutions is still in its infancy. As such, the leading vendors and key strategies may undergo significant changes in the coming years, as new services, tools, and other innovations are brought to this market.