Vodafone's Android Nexus S an iPhone killer? Hold the line

Android jumps ahead, but the iPhone will bounce back

Google's Nexus S Android phone; coming to Vodafone in Australia

Google's Nexus S Android phone; coming to Vodafone in Australia

Having tracked the Android handset space since its inception, if only I had a dollar for every time a report claimed a new “iPhone killer” is about to be released. This time it’s the Nexus S which is coming to Vodafone this year. It’s a great handset, but let’s not rule out the iPhone just yet.

Remember the queues and general hysteria that accompanied the iPhone 4 launch last year?

I’m yet to see an Android phone release resemble anything like that. And to think we’re essentially at the beginning of the smartphone revolution, not the saturation point.

So expect future releases of the iPhone to push the boundaries of what level of interest can be generated from an electronic product release.

The iPhone is set to become a lot more popular than what it is today, there’s no doubt about that.

Even with recent news that Android shipments now exceed those for Symbian and iPhone handsets, there’s no reason to think the iPhone is under threat.

The volumes Android now ships in, thanks to vendors like Samsung and HTC, was something we here at TechWorld predicted all along.

As the smartphone market matures both Android and the iPhone will serve different markets

Android’s strength lies in its (relative) openness and the diversity of devices it runs on.

Google’s Nexus S, manufactured by and branded Samsung, looks like a serious piece of mobile hardware and has features, like NFC support, that the iPhone doesn’t yet support.

And the Nexus S will run the latest edition of Android, version 2.3 “Gingerbread”, which brings VoIP calling and (much needed) better power management.

There’s little wonder why Vodafone – the most vocal Android supporter of all the local mobile carriers – wants to get its hands on it.

But this won’t be enough to topple the mighty iPhone which can also leap ahead of the most capable Android handset with each successive generation.

Android can steal iPhone users

In the handset technology race, both types of devices will be able to match each other, but I have noticed a number of people who have moved away from the iPhone to Android.

Their reasons aren’t overly compelling – some move because of handset choice, others because of the different user experience.

So there’s no doubt Android handsets can lure iPhone users, but again, these people can also switch back.

Moreover, if a first-time Android phone user has a bad experience (at the low-end), then the obvious move is to give the iPhone a try.

It’s the restrictiveness of the iPhone ecosystem that may cause it the most harm in the long run, so Apple needs to keep an eye on this.

I have an iPhone and when I did a recent reinstall of iTunes on another PC, after connecting up the iPhone I discovered, much to my bemusement, that I have now used iTunes with two of the “allowed” five PCs.

My right to use the software the iPhone depends on to do iOS updates was being eroded without my knowledge.

As I’ve discussed previously on my TalkingTech blog, as the smartphone market matures both Android and the iPhone will serve different markets.

Android will be the “Windows of mobile handsets” and the iPhone will be like today’s Apple PCs – popular with enthusiasts, but not dominating the overall market.

Expect to see Android-based handsets continue to sell like hotcakes. Maybe one day that will be a fitting name for an Android release, “Hotcake”.

Follow Rodney Gedda on Twitter: @rodneygedda

Follow TechWorld Australia on Twitter: @Techworld_AU

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Tags smartphonesGoogleVodafoneAndroidiPhonesamsungNexus Sgingerbread

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