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Gadgets & Home Improvement

King of the (OS) hill

A wide variety of apps and a user-friendly interface are some reasons Android is top dog here.
The Straits Times - May 2, 2013
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King of the (OS) hill

In 2009, Google's mobile operating system was introduced along with HTC's first Android smartphone, the HTC Dream.

Four years later, the landscape has changed. Now, Samsung and vendors such as Huawei, Sony Mobile and LG are joining the race to be the top Android device maker.

Market research firm GfK Asia noted that in the first quarter of 2010, Android smartphones owned only 2.2 per cent of the smartphone market here. This year, in the same quarter, Android is now reigning supreme, with 76.5 per cent of the market.

"The openness of Android is a key factor that has been driving the exponential growth of smartphones on this OS," said GfK Asia's account director for digital technology, Mr Gerald Tan.

BlackBerry and other operating systems have fallen out of favour, though BlackBerry is attempting to regain its footing with the new BlackBerry 10 OS. Windows Phone has been struggling in Singapore, with Nokia being the only stronger backer, while Samsung and HTC have approached Microsoft's operating system more cautiously.

The real push for Android growth here belongs to Samsung.

Market research firm IDC senior market analyst Kiranjeet Kaur said: "Although HTC had introduced Android in the Singapore market and while we have more than 10 vendors offering Android-based smartphones in Singapore currently, it is Samsung that is almost solely responsible for pulling Android to this position."

Its latest device, the Galaxy S4, launched here last Saturday, had twice as many pre-orders as the earlier Galaxy S III at launch time. Globally, the company has sold 100 million Galaxy S devices.

"The company has strengthened its huge marketing, branding and promotional activities, not missing the buzz that was generated through its new flagship models that were launched diligently every one or two quarters over the last two years," said Ms Kaur.

Vendor diligence and support are not the only reasons for Android's growth since 2009.

Ms Lillian Tay, principal analyst at IT research and advisory firm Gartner, noted that Google had diligently added features to the Android OS. She said: "The fast updates of the operating system, about six months for each version, have helped to integrate new features, such as near field communication, for the OS to remain fresh and competitive."

The number of Android apps available has also been instrumental in the growth of its ecosystem. Though Apple had a headstart with its App Store, Google has since caught up. Its Google Play Store now offers more than 700,000 apps.

Besides the wide variety of apps available on Android, the user-friendly and customisable interface on Android is also one of the reasons that communications executive Pamela Peh, 32, chose an Android smartphone over the iPhone.

"I wasn't that keen on getting another iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy S III looked really good," she said.




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