Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Is Android the New IBM PC Compatible?

(translated from the French article


Above is a map giving the date when, for the first time, country by country, web searches related to Android have exceeded those related to iPhones and iPads. The color key is on the left.
Grey means that it hasn't happened yet. White means there was not enough data (approx. 2% of world population).

For information, I made this map with The GIMP, based on graphs from Google Trends comparing the number of web searches containing the names of the various Android smartphones and tablets, iPhones and iPads. The map background is from www.histgeo.ac-aix-marseille.fr. All demographic data used below is from the CIA Fact Book.

First, some facts:
  1. The trend is worldwide. It's not yet over but actually present everywhere: searches about Android do exceed those about Apple smartphones, showing a greater interest in the products based on the Google environment.
  2. The date when the Google trend exceeds the Apple trend is an interesting criterion to be put on a world map, because it's highlighting clear patterns.
  3. In terms of compared populations, thus in terms of potential markets, this is a major trend, as is showing the demographic count below.
Census :
  • early adopters of Android (yellow and red) : 22.4%
  • happy followers (green) : 11.1%
  • followers (blue) : 27.2%
  • laggards (grey) : 37.2%
  • no data (white) : 2.1%
I can identify the following patterns:
  • Mid-developed countries are the first to adopt. Look on the map: Central Europe, India, Indonesia, South America.
  • Then come the other developing countries, especially Africa and former USSR.
  • Developed countries are the laggards. West Europe, United States, South Africa, Japan, Australia.
With notable exceptions:
  • Why is Germany among early adopters ? I think that the current actual economic success of Germany resides in its industrial relations with Central Europe. Such relations make that the interests are common and web searches follow.
  • Same for France, dragging Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia towards Apple.
  • Same for South America dragging Spain and Portugal towards Android.
  • The following countries would need further explanations that I cannot provide: China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam. I don't have the necessary knowledge about this region to make assumptions. I think that the reasons why China is late and the impacts of it would merit a whole article by themselves.
Starting from the following hypotheses about Android's most attractive features:
I deduce the following:
  • There is a real mass market to be taken by Google in new developing countries.
  • It's developing countries best interest to push a company that allows reuse, adaptation, competition and enhancement, rather than conforming to closed Apple platforms (thinks about the markets created by the IBM compatible PC in 1981).
  • The diversity of actors and thinking heads in developing countries will ensure that Android soon becomes a more diverse and useful ecosystem than that of iOS or even that of Windows on PC or even than anything we have known so far (here again, think about the growth of the PC).
  • The direct earnings from making and selling this ecosystem, added to the indirect gains related to just using a better ecosystem, will broadly influence the economies of those early adopters countries and the best among them will probably overtake West countries in terms of technological progress (think of how the US profited from the PC boom).
  • Central Europe is certainly the best place to invest industrially right now. early adopters + relatively low costs + stable democracies + known and mastered history and management culture + availability of experienced West Europe managers if needed + European infrastructures + neighbourhood of West European markets + proximity of Turkey for even lower cost of manufacture if required.