Yesterday I saw this article on Android Police, Cage Fight, Part 1: Why Android Will Win The Smartphone War. While I agree with the assessment, I thought I'd elaborate a bit more on why I think by next year Apple is going to be lose a very large chunk of market share to Android and will no longer be the leader in the smartphone space.
Yes, Android is continually marching out new devices, threatening to bury the competition in a deluge of models of all shapes and sizes. One argument does that Android and iPhone devices cater to different demographics, but Android is now not only covering the spectrum from budget smartphones up to higher-end devices. The high end devices are already either comparable or better in some respects than the newest iPhone model.
Today the Droid X goes on sale on Verizon and the Samsung Vibrant goes on sale at T-Mobile.
There are already good reasons to buy a Droid X over an iPhone 4. It's got a larger screen, serves as a wi-fi hotspot for up to 5 devices, has built in voice navigation. It doesn't have a front-facing camera, like the Evo, but it's still a worthy competitor to the best high-end smartphones available right now.
But see, here's the thing. Android is not standing still. New, better models come out just about every month. This summer is the point at which, in terms of specs, Android devices are going to march right past the iPhone, which will be standing still for another year, even disregarding the iPhone 4's antenna issues.
There are people who are such loyalists that they will stick with the iPhone no matter what. But at some point, the average consumer will be doing side-by-side comparisons and will no longer be able to ignore the growing gulf in specs between the iPhone and the newer generations of devices coming out. By this Christmas, there are rumored Android devices with 2 GHz processors and other substantially beefy specs that will eclipse the current generation of smartphones. You would have to be a hardcore Apple loyalist to purchase a phone with half the specs for the same price as a competing product.
And while there's innovation in the hardware, the software just keeps marching on as well. By this holiday season, Android 3.0 (Gingerbread) will be released, and it's likely to be a significant step up from an already solid OS.
I think the one other factor that not many people are talking about is the revamped Android Market demoed at Google I/O. It features a web interface for searching and buying apps, and allows you to push purchased apps over the air directly to your device. This is going to be huge, and it's coming soon. Couple that with Google's new music store through the same portal, and the process of purchasing content for an Android smartphone will be far superior to that of iTunes. This is the biggest missing piece in the Android puzzle right now. And when it clicks into place, I think it's going to seal the deal.
The iPhone is going to share a fate similar to Apple's desktop machines. They will enjoy a small, loyal chunk of the market share, but relatively soon, within a year, they will no longer dominate the high-end smartphone market. That spot will belong to the growing legion of Android devices.