Android's Open Platform Leads to MS-DOS-Like Market Dominance

Dominance over iOS wins favorable comparison to iconic OS of yesteryear.

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Convention goers use Samsung Galaxy Tab Android tablets in this file photo.

    Apple still wins the design battle. But in the war for market dominance, it's all Android.

    Mobile devices using Google's Android operating system comprise over 80 percent of the market, according to Wired, which compared the lion's share of all phones to a similar situation in the not-too-distant past -- when Microsoft's MS-DOS owned the field of personal computing.

    This is a "similar pattern" for Apple and competitors to fall into, the magazine noted: Apple's business model relies on consumers flocking to its corporate logo for design. In so doing, Apple keeps its code closed to outside developers.

    That's not what Bill Gates did in the 1980s -- his code, MS-DOS, was licensed to a host of computer manufacturers. That led to every PC shipped with his code, in an era when Apple computers were nonfactors (this was Steve Jobs's "decade in the wilderness," according to Wired).

    Nowadays, it's Google with its Android OS that's taking Gates's old role. Android is open-source, meaning many manufacturers use the software on their devices -- but the users then all use Google-powered software, which means they see Google ads. Which means Google makes money.

    Apple has learned from its lessons, however: it can keep its system closed and still make money by introducing new devices every few months with incremental changes that consumers still demand.

    So while iOS has a 12.9 percent share of the global market with its 33.8 million units shipped, it's still viable -- even as Android-powered devices comprise 81 percent of the market, with 221.6 million units shipped.

    For Google, it's all about the code -- just as it was for Gates and Microsoft.

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