Android is an operating system designed for smartphones. We will tell you in this article who owns Android. It is a major competitor to Apple iOS and runs on all phones except for iPhones. Even phones that use their own operating systems, such as the Oxygen OS of OnePlus, or the MIUI of Xiaomi, all run the base android system with their unique skins. Android has taken over the smartphone operating system market, and due to its open-source software, it was able to provide high user options that iOS could not. Android is currently owned by Google and is open-source software that several other smartphone company giants also manage. In this article, we will look at the history of Android, its iterations of the operating systems over the years, and who owns and runs Android.
What is Android?
Android is an operating system that was developed specifically for touch screen smartphones. Unlike IOS, which is managed and developed by Apple, Android is developed by a consortium of mobile companies called Open Handset Alliance. This includes developers like Sony, Motorola, QUALCOMM, Google, LG, Samsung, and up to 84 smartphone developers, and Google produces it. This makes it an open-source software, meaning it is free and available to everyone and is managed by more than one person or company. However, Google has a monopoly in it, as it sponsors the software, and every smartphone comes with google apps such as Chrome, Gmail preinstalled, whichever software version and skin they are running. According to reports, almost 70% of Android smartphones run the Google version, while the remaining 30% run the base android with their custom skins installed. The goal of android was to develop the “first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices.”
The History of Android – Who Owns Android?
Android was created as a means of having open-source software. It was founded in 2003 and named Android Inc. by Chris White, Andy Rubin, Rich Miner, and Nick Sears. Its main aim was to develop smartphone devices that can adapt and know the owner’s preferences. In 2005, the tech giant Google bought Android Inc. for $50 million, with its most important employees including all four founders. Reports show that Android was initially created to be an advanced operating system for digital cameras, which after 5 months changed into developing operating systems for handsets. In 2007, the Open Handset Alliance was formed, with major forces being Google, HTC, Sony, and chip creators such as QUALCOMM and Texas Instruments.
The first phone that ran Android and was released commercially was the HTC Dream, released in 2008. But, it had a physical QWERTY keyboard, and since at that time, Apple came out with IOS and had touchscreen support, Google had to change its plans and implement new strategies. Since its first release in 2008, Android has received multiple major updates over the years. Eventually, the software was tailor-made for smartphones with touchscreen. Google names the Android updates alphabetically and after sweet names, such as Cupcake, Donut, KitKat, Ice-cream Sandwich, and Pie. There are many unconfirmed reasons for the choice of such names, but they follow an alphabetical pattern.
It was in 2010 that Google brought about a change in the android market. Like how some phone companies do not run stock android and put their own unique spin on it, such as Samsung, Moto, and One plus, Google announced that they would then release a special edition of such phones. So, in 2010, they revealed a special version of the Samsung Galaxy S4, which ran a stock android. In addition, Google promised that devices that run stock android would receive software and feature updates earlier than other smartphones under its Google Play Edition program. Soon, the Google Play Edition program came to devices such as HTC, Blackberry, etc. But in 2015, the program was discontinued, as Google found a new and efficient way to implement this idea.
Hugo Barra was the spokesperson of Android, representing Google and android at events from 2008-2013. When he left Google in 2013, Larry Page, Google’s then CEO, announced that the main founder, Andy Rubin, had moved on from Android development, and Sundar Pichai was the new Android lead. Sundar Pichai would become the Google CEO in 2015, which made Hiroshi Lockheimer the new android lead. In 2016, Google released its first smartphone, the Google Pixel. The advantage was that it ran the stock android and received faster and earlier updates than all smartphones. Since then, all major android updates will be first received by the Google Pixel. Currently, the android 11 has been released, changing from their traditional ways of naming after sweet dishes, to numbers. The next operating system, android 12, is under development.
What Made Android a Big Deal?
Android came into the smartphone market relatively easily, and it had ample time to set up its stage. However, its main competitor is Apple iOS. While Apple also has a considerable market, its operating system is only available on Apple products, whereas Android is available for all smartphones. So how do android and Google get a competitive advantage? Probably the biggest reason is the pricing. Apple is costly, and all its products are costlier for an average customer when compared to android running smartphones. As a result, android smartphones cost more than 50% lower than a base Apple iPhone, which shows that except for a specific set of people that can afford an iPhone, the majority have no choice but to go for android. Furthermore, since android has a range of manufacturers, with each having its own range of products and android being open source, it makes it a better product.
Another option is a range of devices. Apple only has a set of features and specs that change slightly over its other options. On the other hand, Android has so many options, from camera to its processors and much more. This makes the product appealing to various diverse consumers, each with their own needs, as it satisfies on a larger scale than Apple. Another factor is competition. While Apple has android as its competitor, there is competition between android smartphone companies to gain a competitive advantage. This gives a better scope of development in android as there is constant competition and more upgrades, and less stress on Google, whereas Apple must make all its developments. In more clear words, android lets you choose what you want, whereas Apple has no choice. The next thing is, as previously mentioned, Android is open source. Meaning, based on stock android, better versions of android can be created by developers, which might offer different cosmetic aspects of the operating system as a choice as well. For example, there is a huge difference between Oxygen OS of One plus, MIUI of Xiaomi, and Samsung OS, but all three run the stock android. This visual and interface difference also comes into a choice factor when selecting a smartphone, which is not the case with Apple.
Innovation is also that Google is ahead of Apple, with android introduced even in gaming consoles, such as Ouya, which failed. But the thing to notice here is the willingness of Android and google to experiment, whether it is a loss or a hit. Android has always been a market penetration into devices other than smartphones, whereas iOS has always been catching up to android. Let’s say you break your phone. What will you do next? If you are an android user, you can get your phone fixed at a service center, or if, in worst cases, you can get a new phone for a lower price. But, if an Apple phone gets damaged, the repair costs more than a brand-new android phone. These are small examples of areas in which Android gets a better competitive advantage compared to Apple.
Being open-source, a dedicated community can react and fix problems before the developers’ notice and fix it, which usually takes lots of time. For example, if small security breaches are noticed, the community will fix them, and the developers will add them as an official update and bug fix. This relieves some pressure from the developers and makes the users less frustrated waiting for small updates to fix a relatively small issue. The final reason is apps. With Google play store hosting millions of apps and games, it is not that big a deal as the app store of iOS does the same. But the apps and games are much cheaper, and there are lots of free games on android compared to iOS. This attracts consumers and attracts indie developers who do not want to invest a lot to get their game published.
With constant upgrades, updates, and ever-rising competition among the android developers, android continues to develop upon its success. Google has done a great job supporting android for a long time. Android and Google have a competitive edge over their rivals simply because of better customization, accessibility, consumer choices, diversity, innovation, and creativity. Android will listen effectively to its consumers with such frequent updates and build its ever-growing success based on the customers’ feedback.