Open ... and Shut In case the barrage of lawsuits didn't clue us in, IDC's recent report showcasing an avalanche of Android phones must. Android accounted for 75 per cent of all smartphones sold in the last three months. That's serious domination, but we didn't need to wait for IDC to tell us about it. All the trends point to Android's dominance.
One measure, though admittedly imperfect, is web searches. Android dwarfs iOS in terms of interest expressed through web searches. Such data must be taken with a (heavy) dose of salt, however, as dominant interest in Android since mid-2009 has not really translated into market dominance until fairly recently. Perhaps it's a leading indicator of purchasing behavior, but given how fast the mobile market moves, it doesn't seem to be a convincing correlation.
What is convincing, on the other hand, is jobs. I've pointed to jobs data before in an attempt to explain Microsoft's looming problems with Windows 8 adoption. The reason? In the Windows world, job postings indicate healthy demand for Windows-savvy IT professionals.
And in the mobile world, iOS or Android job listings indicate serious development interest in these platforms. Such platform interest not only derives from existing consumer demand for a mobile OS but also projects where the market is going. The more developers, the more support for a given platform. By this measure, Android's 75 per cent share of shipments last quarter may only be the beginning.
In terms of absolute number of Android and iOS jobs, the two are running neck-and-neck, though Android caught up fast. But in terms of relative growth, Android is absolutely exploding:
Explanations? Well, it's important to remember that Android is still playing catch up relative to iOS, which is a relatively mature job market. Even so, this can't explain away the fact that the two platforms command roughly the same number of jobs today but Android is still growing dramatically faster…on roughly the same base as iOS.
People used to explain Android's comparative dearth of developer interest by knocking the tools available for it. Apple made iOS development easy. This is no longer a winning argument (and it's yet to prove a winner for Microsoft, either, which has fantastic tools for Windows Phone 8 but still few developers). Android's tooling now polls evenly with iOS among developers.
Of course, the subtext here is that IDC's numbers cover the global market, and Android is particularly dominant in the world's largest market: China. A big chunk of Android's developer interest, therefore, comes from China, and not the more established US and European markets. Appcelerator's latest developer survey, for example, shows iOS still beating Android handily with enterprise app developers.
Android's "China syndrome", however, is not much of a critique of Android: most companies are falling over themselves to compete well in China. Google just happens to own that mobile OS market, and hopes to pair that dominance with hefty advertising revenue.
Back to jobs. I'd wager that most of those Android jobs aren't listed by Chinese companies. Jobs point to the future of Android's dominance, as much as they tell the story of its firm grip on the market today. ®
Matt Asay is vice president of corporate strategy at 10gen, the MongoDB company. Previously he was SVP of business development at Nodeable, which was acquired in October 2012. He was formerly SVP of biz dev at HTML5 start-up Strobe (now part of Facebook) and chief operating officer of Ubuntu commercial operation Canonical. With more than a decade spent in open source, Asay served as Alfresco's general manager for the Americas and vice president of business development, and he helped put Novell on its open source track. Asay is an emeritus board member of the Open Source Initiative (OSI). His column, Open...and Shut, appears three times a week on The Register. You can follow him on Twitter @mjasay.