It was September 2008, when Android 1.0, the first commercial version was released in the market. This was exactly after 3 years and 2 months of Google acquiring Andy Rubin’s Android Inc. Though by now, Blackberry, Nokia Symbian and Windows Phone had given us a fair understanding since 2000, about how Smartphones would look like and what all they would be capable of, the actual Smartphone in the way we see it much like today, only became a reality when Apple launched iPhone in 2007. This was the phone which changed our interface with this Smart gadget and instead of a physical keyboard, we started using the touch screens and the display would have soft-keyboard to allow us to type in.
iPhone was since beginning focusing on creating an electronics marvel, a flagship. This meant it would be at a premium price and won’t be available to all. At the launch in 2007, iPhone was sold at $499 with a 2 year contract with the carrier.
However, to make Smartphone fit every pocket, the world required something different. A Smartphone which would be much affordable than this making its reach mirrored to the world population so that each person on the earth could own one. We are still away from this dream!
With the launch of HTC Dream (T-Mobile G1), world’s first Smartphone on Android made available for sale at $179 with a two year contract in October of 2008, the history was in making. Never ever would one imagine that his Smartphone is going to be the ‘Adam’ of Smartphones. The vision of Open Handset Alliance, formed by Google along with 34 founding members, which was established in 2007 had started to become a reality. Today OHA has 84 member organisations.
Soon with the launch of HTC Dream, very aptly named so, the possibility of Smartphones becoming the most owned electronics device in the world seemed high. Now a Smartphone, though not equivalent of iPhone was available at a third. It is only due to Android that we can see a Smartphone for as low as $50 or even less. However reliable and good experience Smartphones might only be available $80 and above.
Whatever the case, Android has become the default OS for Smartphones and gone even beyond. We have Tablets, PCs, Watches, TVs and a lot Smarter Gadgets running Android. By end of 2019, the global number for Smartphones should cross 2.5 billion of which 85% would be running on Android. This means in a decade Android is now powering close to 2 billion Smartphones.
Apart from being able to enable the handset makers manufacture a smartphone for all, Android has revolutionized the entire economy making digital the mainstream as well as making it an essential cog of the economy if not the only. The e-commerce revolution, broadband revolution, fiber revolution, and many other such disruptions which we have come across in the past decade have all been possible because of the widespread penetration of Smartphones, thanks to Android.
Globally, we are moving towards Digital Economies. India is also aspiring for a $1 trillion digital economy by 2025. This is predominantly because of Smartphones. Be it the digital commerce, manufacturing of Smartphones, Smart TVs, etc. or even the social ramifications of technology, all are so to say powered by Android. For instance, in India, even in the best of its times, iOS market shares never grew beyond 2%. This is the case with most of the global economies. Barring few mature markets like US and Europe, iPhones have not been able to gain much, primarily because of its pricing. Contrary to this the digital revolution has all been through Android.
Whether we take a look at the organisations of future, which have by now become Unicorns or are in the making, or see the basis of Sharing Economy, Smartphones have all crucial and critical role to play. We at times have a tendency to underestimate the significance of Smartphones and see it mere a device of entertainment and content consumption. However, it’s much more than that if one has a detailed and informed view of the past 10 years. There is no segment – economic, social or political, where Smartphones haven’t had an impact and continue to increasingly become the platform of growth and development. With Smartphones becoming increasingly synonymous to Android, the contribution of Android is phenomenal.
As the entire industry along with the policy makers globally, attempt to make Smartphones further affordable, this remains one of the biggest challenges, solving which will embrace a very big chunk of population, in billions. Irrespective of whether this is solved or not, Android is without doubt the most impactful innovations of the decade. Indeed, its not just an OS running smart devices, it has become the OS of the Knowledge driven Digital economies creating a new world order making physical boundaries irrelevant. It does, however, come up with new challenges which we all collectively need to solve.
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