Android is only “winning” by replacing regular phone OSes. Here’s why.

Why Google is Winning the Smartphone Wars – Timothy B. Lee – Disruptive Economics – Forbes.

It should be called, “Why Google has the potential to succeed over the iPhone.”  However, his primary argument has a couple of flaws in my opinion:

This explains why iOS has been losing ground to Android even though most people agree that the iPhone is the best single smartphone on the market. There are tens of millions of people who care most about the narrow end of the funnel. They want the best user interface, and are willing to make compromises on other fronts to get it. Most of these customers will opt for an iPhone. But there are hundreds of millions of customers who care more about some other factor. They want a phone from their favorite carrier, a phone with a physical keyboard or a removable battery, a phone with their choice of app store, a phone they can get for free with a contract, a phone they can get with a pre-paid plan, etc. No single phone (wireless carrier, hardware manufacturer, etc) can satisfy all of these diverse customers. Only a platform designed to support many different phones from many different manufacturers on many different networks can cope with this kind of diversity.

“They want …”

“… a phone from their favourite carrier.”

More like: The iPhone isn’t on their preferred carrier.

“…a phone with a physical keyboard or a physical keyboard.”

I’m doubtful that, in the face of the now numerous non-physical keyboard options with their capabilities that someone would have this as anything near their primary reason for choosing a phone unless they absolutely can’t stand a software keyboard and don’t care about, say, apps and all that and just want to send a lot of SMSs and emails alongside making phone calls.

“… a phone with a removable battery …”

I guess there are people still stuck with the idea that phone batteries don’t last long enough.

“… a phone with their choice of app store …”

You have to be joking. Who chooses a phone because of the app store (except Apple-hating geeks who wouldn’t buy an iPhone regardless anyway)?

“… a phone they can get free with a contract, a phone they can get with a pre-paid plan, etc.

These people buy regular phones as all they want to do is make phone calls. Or they buy regular, pre-paid phones. People who buy an iPhone buy one because they want an iPhone. They don’t say “I want an iPhone and I want it free with a contract.” They look at an iPhone as a premium choice. Except in Japan, I doubt people are interested any more in paying premiums for other than an iPhone or smart phone. That being said, the old 3GS is pretty damn cheap now in markets where it is available.

I think the problem is, people are looking at iPhone vs. Android phone, whereas the regular non-tech-savvy customer, having become used to ever increasing features in regular phones, sees it as: iPhone or some other phone. Those customers not interested in either who just want to make calls and SMS just get a cheap, regular phone.

Also, don’t forget that many of the regular phones are being replaced with phones that run Android. This gives the illusion of “Android is becoming highly successful.” It is, but it is not because it’s Android, it is because the phone manufacturers are replacing their existing phone operating systems with it as they make new models. Overall, it’s not doing anything other than putting Google adsense on people’s phones, if we look at this as just the continued progress of phone technology.