The darling of the newest class of consumer technologies is undoubtedly Google’s Glass. Sleek, beautiful, exciting Glass eyewear delivers a persistent layer of augmented reality (AR) to its users/wearers. It enhances the real world with additional metadata about a wearer’s surroundings, performs a range of user-instructed functions, and introduces several means of communication fluidly across its interface.
It’s the type of technological advancement that could make the staunchest of Apple fan boys forget all about Siri. And it runs on Android.
Android, Google’s mobile OS, has a 70.1% market share stranglehold on the booming global smartphone OS market. In a world dominated by smartphones and tablet devices, which has prompted one marketing industry analyst firm to call for a “mobile-first” prioritization, Android is in the most enviable position among platform competitors (Apple iOS, Microsoft Windows 8, BlackBerry 10 are the others).
The significance of Glass running on Android can’t be understated. The world has gone mobile, and through a barrage of new technologies an always-on mobility push is challenging the limits of our understanding of what “mobile” even means. This movement is best summarized by “any place, any time” digital connectivity.
And the world of digital mobility continues to look more and more like an Android-dominated landscape. In addition to the Glass revelation, there are more signs that Google is well positioned.
1. Demand for PCs is softening. Whether the steep decline in PC shipments is the result of consumers switching to tablet devices or a lackluster Windows 8 launch (or both) is immaterial. People are turning to mobility solutions to perform more computing tasks than ever before. This paradigm shift seems to be still in its infancy, too.
Legacy PC users who are turning to tablets have many options available to them, as Android-powered tablets are expected to pass Apple iOS-powered ones this year.
2. Global smartphone sales continue to rise. Though handset sales saw declines in 2012, smartphone sales continued to grow. It’s anticipated that smartphone sales will eclipse those of feature phones this year, marking an important category milestone
Guess which OS is projected to enjoy the most market share?
3. Open source means accessible. Despite the early gripes from developers over the difficulties in building apps for Android, given the many device form factors and OS versions that exist, Android’s open-source philosophy has enabled a blank canvas for creativity. Hardware OEMs can build device-specific firmware and apps. Even traditional competitors are betting some of their mobile futures on the Android ecosystem: Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Appstore for Android, and the new Facebook Home app launcher UI all run on Android.
Android is invading the living room, too. Upstart videogame console OUYA is preparing for a June 4 launch for its device, which allows Android-developed games to be played on the big screen.
It seems Android is everywhere, and the timing couldn’t have been better orchestrated. Forrester Research is leading the charge in measuring what it calls the “mobile mind shift” among consumers. Those who have made the mobile mind shift are consumers who demand “mobile utility and will dump companies that don’t give it to them.”
Shifting consumer expectations about mobile are aligned perfectly to Android’s rise as the unstoppable platform. A marketing communications executive recently confided to me that “if you’re not big on Android, you’re not in the game.”