Does Android have a future?

Does Android have a future?

At one point in the (near) future, most of us will have just one device that will work as a phone, tablet and computer. Yup, that will be our smartphone which is already more powerful than desktop/office machines from just a few years ago. Modern quad-core processors are super-fast and can handle a number of tasks at once. That’s why we’ve started seeing Android-powered computers.

However, we must ask ourselves – does Android have a future?

If we’ll have just one device to use for everything, I tend to think that device will either have to run Windows or Mac OS. Some of us still need full-blown Photoshop. Then there are others who need video editing capabilities that go beyond Android’s software. Plus, some vector graphic software and many other specialized apps that can’t really work in a browser. Many of these things are missing on Android, which is kinda expected since it’s a mobile platform.

On the other hand, you can find these and many other applications for desktop/laptop systems, whether they run Microsoft’s or Apple’s platform.

During the past few weeks I’ve been writing that we need a single Windows that runs across devices and one platform from Apple that would merge iOS and Mac OS. When that happens — and I’ve no doubts that engineers in both Cupertino and Redmond are working on it as we speak — Android could easily become irrelevant. After all, why would anyone want a mobile-only OS when it can have “one OS to rule them all.” With one-for-all platform users would be able to simply dock their smartphone and use it as a full-blown computer. And remember – the docked UI may not have anything to do with the one used on a smartphone and tablet. The important thing is that you get the software you need.

I do believe this is where we’re going and I have hard time imagining using Android for my work. On the other hand, I’m sure Google is also aware of this and its employees are working round the clock to improve Android and make it a true universal platform. That’s why I was suggesting they should consider acquiring Canonical, maker of Ubuntu.

What do you think about it? Do you think Android stands a chance in the long run?

  • simon

    This is slightly contradictory isn’t it? On the one hand you’re saying that android isn’t capable of running the applications required by some people because the software doesn’t exist or can’t run in a browser or on a mobile platform, but then go on to say that the docked experience doesn’t need to be the same as the mobile experience.

    What’s to prevent android being expanded to run native linux software such as gimp, outputting to a monitor with mouse and keyboard attached, and essentially being a full blown linux desktop when docked? This doesn’t seem to be any more of a leap than Microsoft or apple merging their desktop and mobile platforms, and linux is as much a full blown desk/laptop os as windows or osx…

    • Dusan Belic

      Yeah, but Linux is still a niche platform compared to Windows and Mac OS. And when this convergence comes (and I think it’s coming) Google will want a large chunk of the market, not a niche.

      • Brad

        When Google calls their full blown docked/desktop version of Linux, Android it won’t be niche. It will simply be Android. Given the brand recognition, the exploding market share in mobile, the rapid improvement of the platform, and the cost of adoption for hardware manufacturers; I’d say Google would have to screw up pretty badly not to win the convergence war.

        • slufnevets

          Right on Brad, I agree with you 100%. I ask the author, when has Apple or Microsoft come out with new software that has grabbed Marketshare? Software that people just gotta have? Apple Maps? Windows Mobile? Windows 8? When Android was released it started grabbing Marketshare immediately. The public wanted an alternative. C f

          • Dusan Belic

            I’m just saying that we still don’t have software for many industries. As I said it, professionals don’t want Photoshop and Excel alternatives – they want the real deal and are ready to pay for it.

            Also there’s other software for 3D animation, publishing, video post-production and so on which still doesn’t exist for Android. There are some Linux apps but they hardly come close to paid software.

          • slufnevets

            I agree with your original thought. I guess we will just have to agree to disagree on who will take that lead position. I think for the most part Apple customers will stay with Apple no matter what. They are a very loyal bunch. I think they can merge their OS’s into one very functional OS that will work across all platforms. However, to totally dominate, they will have to open up their OS to developers, as they have shown their ability to create apps and programs that are highly functional is somewhat lacking, Siri, iMaps, iWorks to name a few. Microsoft on the other hand, has been able to hold their own because of their dominance with the Windows franchise in PC’s, and the Office franchise that most businesses have been using for years. I think the last 4-5 years have shown that the public and most manufactures are in no rush to jump on the Windows Mobile bandwagon.

  • Ian Newman

    Of course android has a future. Devices are used for different things. Just because you may want photoshop on your desktop doesn’t mean you want it in your pocket.
    Not everyone is sporting a phone with a quad core processor, that is still solely high end devices.
    The reason android is being used on hone computers is due to the flexibility it’s providing. And as more people use it at home the more apps that will develop fully such as photoshop. Who ever said that android apps have to be browser based?
    If there are were ever going to be one os to rule them all, don’t you think that would have happened by now? Windows was previously the closest to that happening, and still we have OSX and all the variants of linux/Unix. Different os’s are suited to different things. Android is suited to mobile devices currently, but there’s no reason it can’t branch out. Mobiles to tablets, tablets with keyboards, keyboard tablets to laptops, laptop to desktop. None of them are major steps and so far android has transitioned well. This article asks a bad question and doesn’t seem to have a point.

    • Dusan Belic

      My thinking was – at one point ALL phones will have enough processing power to run big/desktop apps. So why at that point would we want a mobile-only OS (that can also have some uses in other devices).

      And we also know Microsoft want to have its platform running inside of everything.

  • Android = Chrome OS.

  • PeterSteinbeck

    When you put it like that – Microsoft may be a winner of this race.

  • jonbedison

    I think you are missing the point from the author which is a valid one. His first statement is that all will come together as only one mobile device. I have been saying this for 5 years now that this will happen where tablets as we see them today will go away once flexible screens turn or phones into both. So the need to do everything on one device is a valid question. I essentially replaced my need for a tablet and pc with my note 2. I can link it into any projector or tv to provide me the larger desktop experience up to 120 inches that I have tested so far. So we are getting very close to a single device scenerio. However I do agree we still have the need for certain desktop app experiences that will allow us to complete the same task we are familiar with from our dedktops. These apps I believe will continue to evolve to where we need them to be in order to be productive on a mobile device. So yes Android will continue to be a major player if not bigger in this migration to a more mobile device environment. I think a bigger question is how will manufactures of tablets / pcs take the migration hit to a smartphone / tablet hibrid flexible screen type device. So it will not only be the desktop / laptop industry being affected but tablets will go away as well. From here on out its all about being mobile where your pc can fit into your pocket along with other wearable devices. The companies that realize this first will survive. Android is leading at this point with its potential in flexibility.

  • cdf3

    If and when this happens, the mobile OS of Android will have a hard time competing. I would love to have the ability to edit documents on my phone using all of the features the Word and Excel Desktop versions have to offer. I no longer would have to run a stripped down version such as Documents To Go, Quick Office, Polaris Office, etc.
    It’s a chance Microsoft may be the one to do it first. Apple has a chance as well, but they would have to loosen the reigns on their mobile devices. It’s 2013 and they still do not allow users to download Email attached documents to their device. The only work around is to use 3rd party apps, which is still quite cumbersome in order to get around those restrictions.

    It’ll be interesting to see which company pulls it off first.

    • stevey

      google drive has most of the features of excel, word and powerpoint. Google’s purchase of quickoffice will only make it better. It is currently better than iWork which is a joke.

      • cdf3

        I’ve tried Google Drive on my Android device, and it’s lacking a ton of features. I couldn’t find a way to import an image. There’s no way to create tables in a Word document. When working with Excel documents, there’s no way to add borders around cells, there’s no Freeze Pain, no Functions,.. the list goes on and on.
        I rarely ever use the Google Drive app for Android when working with documents. It’s very plain, and can’t do much of anything.
        Kingsoft Office app has quite a few features. It can do more than most of the paid office apps that are in the PlayStore.

  • Arkoprabho

    Microsoft is already workin on something similar… The wp8 w8RT and the w8 sharr the same kernel which makes it easier to communicate between the devices…
    The w8 already rules the pc and tablet market… Which makes it best for those users to go for a wp8 phone rather than an android one… Although i don’t think android will totally vanish out of the picture… It will be there.. Maybe with much less market share… But it will be there…

    • cdf3

      W8 rules the tablet market? I agree they rule the PC market, but not the tablet market.

      • Arkoprabho

        Well they launched recently and have almost 39% market share…
        Their surveys said that they’ll have more than 50% share by the end of 2013…

        • cdf3

          Regardless of what they say about market share, that does not equate to units sold. Apple’s iPad dominates in units sold, with Android tablets not far behind.

        • Prasad Tiruvalluri

          Any links Pls..

  • Joe

    To be honest I think the author of this article couldn’t be more wrong, working for a communications company and seeing the growing number of tablets being sold, most of them android due to price point, I think we are moving in an opposite direction. Mobile operating systems have never played nice with a mouse and keyboard just like a desktop os with touch tends to be more difficult. I don’t think one os is the key, I believe it’s one ecosystem with full integration of information. If that is the case, I believe Google is ahead of everyone, all there services are easily accessible and instantly integrated.

    • cdf3

      Most of my mobile devices have no problems using a keyboard. I also have a bluetooth mouse that I’ve used with a few of my Android devices. It worked well, but I preferred using the touchscreen to navigate my way around.

  • truthYO!

    “If we’ll have just one device to use for everything, I tend to think that device will either have to run Windows or Mac OS. Some of us still need full-blown Photoshop.”

    So the barrista’s and unemployed artists will dictate who wins out in the OS battle?


    2 facts you are ignoring.

    1- MS botches every other windows “upgrade” and will continue to alienate users by doing this. Apple has benefited greatly by MS’s mistakes. I think Chromebook will take some of these consumers as well.

    2 – Apple is very much still a niche product and will never be adopted en masse by businesses because of cost. If your company uses only macs….congrats! I hope you enjoy destroying shareholder value because you could have gotten more functional devices for a third of the cost!

    • Dusan Belic

      I disagree with this “barrista’s and unemployed artists will dictate who wins out in the OS battle.”

      Excel is still the dominant tool in the financial world which is having hard time replacing it with cheaper alternatives. Also I doubt the groups you’re mentioning are actually buying Adobe’s software, which is pretty expensive.

      And I agree with the the 2 points you mentioned. Still, I haven’t heard anyone saying Chromebook is that much of a business-friendly product. Not even Google says that.

      • Carl Draper

        No, what will happen is MS will eventually have to make an Android version of Office.

      • slufnevets

        Chrome OS is still a baby. Everything is moving to the clouds, and Microsoft will have to make versions that work with Android and Chrome OS. They will do this to survive, I believe, because they are going to start losing marketshare, even on their flag ship products. Google and 3rd party developers will make alternatives to the MS Office juggernaut, and people will try them, because Microsoft will continue to try to overcharge the public. MS will lose the Cloud War, so many people just do not like them. So many use them now because there have been no other alternatives. Google/Android has taught the masses that they can use an OS and programs/apps other than Windows/iOS/Office

  • MC Wong

    Windows 8 must be selling by the billions with this logic. Nokia and Microsoft ruling the mobile world?

    • Dusan Belic

      I never said that. I said in the future that could happen.
      Just remember the days when Palm OS was ruling the day…

      • MC Wong

        I guess technology evolved so fast that one minute you’re top dog the next waiting for chapter 11 with one misstep. Motorola, RIM, Nokia. Even Intel struggling to get a slice of the mobile market.Google may be trying to merge chrome with android too to best Apple to the tape. Or the smart home appliances, TVs, consoles market will determine who will rule tomorrow.

  • Raul

    I use my Android (ICS) smartphone (S2) frequently at work. Im in the housing for low income sector. I have used my Android to scan and pdf documents (CamScanner) to send to landlords by email (K9). For inspections, my phone can act ask a flashlight. For finding apartments listing for clients, i use Craigslist Pro app. For finding the property i need to inspect, Android navigation app. I have even used my phone to buy my own home. My realtor sent me contracts which i used DocuSign app to sign and sent back without stopping what i was doing. I bought a bluetooth keyboard for my S2, i hardly use my laptop now.

  • Simon

    Google Apps will play a big part in keeping users on either Chrome or Android. As productivity moves into the cloud all that home or work users will eventually need is a web browser. Therefor, with further Android development and integration with larger screens and desktops there is no reason why it cannot dominate the PC market as well as smartphone.

  • Roaduardo

    Just gonna ride this Android wave until I can’t.

  • Mike A.

    Android has strong changes of becoming one of the major/largest companies/industries in the world. Trust me…i can feel it.

  • Carl Draper

    Well this is where Ubuntu for Android comes in, dock your phone and you have an Ubuntu desktop computer. Alternatively Ubuntu Touch phones may also do this.

  • slufnevets

    First, let me say I enjoyed the article and this discussion. I take exception when you say Google (Android) is a niche player. I haven’t really read this anywhere, so I want to proclaim something to all you bloggers/reviewers out there so you can hear first hand at least one reason, and maybe the main reason, why Google/Android has become so dominant in the mobile space. We need to go back prior to the release of the iPhone in 2007. At this time, Microsoft ruled the mobile space with their Windows Phone OS, and I think we can all agree, it was an embarrassment. Even with the release of the iPhone, MS scoffed, and once again, just as they did with the Internet, looked into the future and mis-read what the public wanted. The iPhone sales took off, and the boys from Redmond continued to turn the other cheek. Google on the other hand, smartly realized that mobile was the future, snapped up Android, and now dominate the mobile space. At first I was concerned, I questioned if Android could survive, because they would had to play catch up with the boys from Cupertino, Apple’s ecosystem was so strong. Google has proven to be a very shrewd competitor, and I now believe they have built an ecosystem second to no one. Google methodically, patiently, improves this ecosystem all the time. I bought the first Android phone, the G1, because I wanted an ALTERNATIVE to Apple and to Microsoft. I respect both companies, but my problem with Apple is their my way or the highway attitude towards their products. My problem with Microsoft, & Apple also, is I have believed for years, that they rape the public on pricing. Microsoft with their update on OS’s, MS Office, multiple versions of each, charging more & more for each version. Apple makes quality products, but you’re stuck using their ecosystem, whether you like it or not. With Google and Android, I pay much less, in many cases I get to use their products and services for free. With Apple & iOS, no customization. To replace MS Office, I have Open Office, Quick Office, Dataviz, to name just a few. You know what, they all work good enough, and they are consistently getting better. Look at Apple & Microsoft yearly sales, and their yearly net profits. Then take the largest company in the world Walmart, look at their yearly sales, and their yearly profits. How is it that companies doing 1/4 the yearly sales or even less, make net profits close to or even more than a company doing 4 times more in sales? Because they are raping us consumers on price. A major reason, I will stay with Google, Android, and their whole ecosystem. I believe many feel as I do, and I also believe it is Apple & Microsoft that better pick up their game, to win this battle. My money is on Google, Apple has changed with a financial guy running the show, and Microsoft fumbles the ball on every possession since Steve Ballmer has been in charge.

  • No, Android is definitely doomed – said no one ever.

  • Fred

    I see nothing to prevent Android from getting a “desktop” build profile alongside the existing phone and MID profiles. Even so the Android-x86 effort has already gone a long way toward better keyboard/mouse integration for use with non-touch monitors as it is. Once things have matured a little more in this direction I can’t imagine PC manufacturers omitting Android as an OS option, with some desktops shipping that way exclusively.

    The only things holding Windows replacement at bay is that to date Android has primarily targeted mobile devices with limited power, storage, etc. Once you have more powerful desktops running Android you can bet ISVs will follow with powerful office suites, video editors, image-manipulators, and every other category of desktop software.

  • zb54

    Ever since I tried android I never used my PC anymore for what my phone can do. I only use a PC to root my phone, copy backup files, and print documents. My android phone amazingly can handle ALL my computing routine.
    Android has a future because it replaces a PC.

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