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The Android Is A Free OS Debate

It seems that every month, week new data comes out which suggests that Android is growing. Take for instance a piece we ran that suggested that Android would be the number one OS by 2012. We firmly believe that the data by eMarketer is right on target.

If you head over to the source piece at techcrunch or check out our twitter feed you’ll see the same thing that repeatedly happens every time a piece like this shows up on the internet. That thing you’ll see is that “Android is a free OS, and that’s one of the things that contributes to these excellent reports.

To that end, Android is a free OS. It’s open source, allowing developers to hurry back to their offices, garages and dorm rooms and cook up some great applications utilizing the full range of options available in the OS and in the hardware.

Android being free also allows manufacturers to get smartphones in the hands of consumers that may be stuck with feature phones.  Who thinks that this is bad? Should the right to carry an iPhone or an HTC Evo 4G, the right of passage for someone higher in the socio-economic food chain.  After talking with everyone about this on one of our thrice weeky conference calls this week we all agree that more smartphones is a good thing.

Why is it a good thing to get more smartphones in more hands? Well for one smartphones enable people from all over the world to be more involved in their internet lives. I’ve never seen a study on it but somewhere it’s helping with literacy I’m sure of that.  It’s already helping people apply for jobs, find directions to places, keep in contact with friends and family members, keep up with their back balance,heck even play games.

Smartphones are expanding at a rate higher than that of the PC boom in the late 80s.  Android, being free, is definitely a contributing factor.

Are IOS and Blackberry Free?
We’ve seen a huge uptick in readers here but in case your a long time reader, thanks but you’ve seen this argument before…

Apple, the creators of IOS, currently offer one phone design, the iPhone.  Although the iPhone has deifferent generations most of them, aside from the iPhone 4 are out of production.  IOS also runs in iPod touches and IOS has it’s own version for iPads.  There are a ton of these devices, tens of millions of them.

So IOS, is it Free?
Well perhaps there is a check cut at 1 Infinite Loop, and run from one part of the campus to another by golf cart or electronically, maybe they even send it in the mail. But this is doubtful.

The exact same can be applied to Research In Motion (RIM) the manufacturers of the Blackberry and the Blacbkerry OS.  There isnt someone running from one office to another with a check. It’s not practical logic.

So yeah Android is Free but to themselves RIM and IOS are also free.

Now Android upset the smartphone paradigm by offering their Operating System to manufacturers free and to multiple manufacturers. The parameters for which manufacturers can use the Android OS are unclear but it seems that all you need to do is adhere to their standards.  Currently their main manufcaturers are HTC,Motorola,  Samsung, LG, Sony Ericcson, Kyoera, Huawei, ZTE, Toshiba, Acer, Lenovo, NEC and many more.

Although they have the monetary resources to do it, Google has decided to stay out of the hardware business. Their 3 signature phones were made by HTC (G1 and NexusOne) and Samsung (Nexus S) their signature tablet was made by Motorola.

Time and Time again Google has stated that they don’t make any money off the operating system, they give it away free. Why? Because Google’s main business is search and putting more smartphones in the world allows for more search, which allows for more money for Google. It’s pretty simple logic we think.

Could RIM and Apple do the same thing?

Of course they could, but they won’t. RIM has been on the smartphone seen for over 15 years and while their phones are slowing down there is nothing that would suggest they would ever outsource their hardware manufacturing. If they ever did, who knows if they would do it for free.

Apple, always wants to control the outflow of product to ensure that it’s elegant, beautiful and functions they way they won’t. While they outsource their parts to companies like Samsung, they won’t ever outsource their OS.

So when new data is released and it’s operating system for operating system, there would actually be something very wrong if Google doesn’t overtake them all.

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