Top ten most influential of 2010: Android

Google's Android had been a big player in the 2010 smartphone market, and it doesn't look like it's slowing down

Each Friday until the end of the year, Computerworld Australia is revealing one of the top ten most influential people, technologies and trends that shaped 2010 in Australia. The top ten was collated and determined by our editorial team and advisory panel of IT managers, industry experts, consultants and analysts.

(See how we chose the top ten)

A Readers’ Choice poll will also be open from Monday, 18 October, to determine what our readers think should be included, and what shouldn’t. Head here to let us know what you think should be in the poll.

Coming in at number 10 for Computerworld Australia's top ten most influential of 2010:

Android

It’s fair to stay the mobile and smartphone market has been turned on its head in recent times. Traditional stalwarts Nokia and Microsoft have struggled to stay in the game, with the latter only just recently launching its latest ambitious attempt to take back precious market share lost to Apple’s iPhone and other market leaders. The past year has seen Palm succumb to market pressure and sold off to HP, while even enterprise heartthrob Research in Communications found it difficult to keep its BlackBerry platform afloat in the face of increasing consumerisation of IT in the enterprise.

And then there’s Android. Launched in late 2007 by the newly formed Open Handset Alliance, the Linux-based smartphone platform was designed to work on open standards, avoid the vendor and carrier lock-in of its predecessors and essentially take on both the enterprise and consumer markets with one fell swoop. That swoop came and went, without much fanfare.

While open-source developers and early adopters jumped on the Google-led operating system with much fervour, the rest of the market shrugged. But the death knell didn’t sound.

Instead, as developers continued to work on and further refine the operating system, Android became more usable and feature-rich. Devices proliferated as more manufacturers jumped on board the Open Handset Alliance in hopes of toppling or at least replicating the sudden success of Apple’s shiny toy, and suddenly Android was no longer the bastard child of the mobile world.

If there has ever been a year for growth for the Android platform, 2010 is it. New purchases of Android phones eclipsed those of the iPhone in Q2 of this year in the US, according to one Nielsen report, while IDC statistics from September indicated Android market share had reached 16.3 per cent with predictions it could reach 24.6 per cent in four years’ time. Local share here increased from 0.6 per cent in June 2009 to 2.1 per cent a year late; sure, not the highest stats, but at a near-fourfold growth all signs point to an upward trend for the operating system.

The little robot has even convinced Telstra to abandon all notions of vendor neutrality in its support for the platform, with the incumbent telco set to launch an Android-based tablet later this year.

The platform continues to possess challenges; despite the numerous device now available on the market, the inability to easily update to the latest version does it no favours, while the Android Market proves no match to Apple’s application inventory when it comes to finding cool new ways to annoy your friends.

But 2010 has nevertheless proved the year Android broke from its shackles and became a real boy. Enterprises loathe to the thought of an iPhone invasion reported anecdotally they were considering Android rollouts. Anyone not toting the Apple carry-all was either stuck with a candybar phone circa 1999 or boasting a brand new Android device. The device still arguably has a long way to go before its invasion is complete and the availability of Windows Phone 7 is likely to prove a tough, new competitor, but it has become the ultimate challenger brand in an emptying battlefield.

Should Google’s darling continue from strength to strength as it has been, we wouldn’t find it so surprising to see the Android platform make it to this same list next year.

Do you agree with Android’s ranking in Computerworld’s top ten most influential? Let us know below.

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