Android is a mobile operating system (OS) developed by Android Inc based upon a modified version of the Linux kernel. In 2005 Google purchased Android, Inc. In 2007, Google spearheaded the Open Handset Alliance, which is a business alliance of 79 firms for developing open standards for mobile devices. By 2008, the first Android was released, the T-Mobile G-1.
Going back to 2008 you would find Nokia pushing its Symbian OS, Sony Ericsson smartphones were run by Symbian UIQ, RIM's BlackBerry was running its own BlackBerry OS, HTC and Samsung smartphones were running Windows Mobile and Apple's iPhone was, as expected, running it own iOS (iPhone OS). Motorola, which was not big on smartphone development even has a phone running on Linux. Pretty much, everyone was pushing it own operating system. Android was a modern operating system that everybody could build-on. This collaborative effort was a success. By the third quarter of 2010, the Android OS had obtained 25% of the Smartphone market.
Android on the other hand wants to be Microsoft Windows of handheld devices. Google wants everyone to have an Android smartphone, and I do not suspect end users will object. With the Android OS being offered by so many manufacturers, it has made smartphones cheaper than ever, with Android powered smartphones now being found in smartphones as inexpensive as the Php10,990 Samsung Galaxy 5.
Nokia did not join this Android revolution and is trying to catch up with its proprietary Symbian^3. It may have been better if they had just joined the Android bandwagon. RIM's BlackBerry will try to hold its ground with its own BlackBerry OS. BlackBerry has been all about the services they provide (BES and BIS), and going to a non-proprietary platform would probably kill the brand. The greatest threat to the BlackBerry is not the Android, but unlimited mobile internet, which makes BlackBerry's services not so unique anymore. Microsoft has launched its Windows Phone 7. But Windows Phone 7 is not trying to compete with Android. Windows Phone 7 is trying to compete with Apple's iOS. Windows Phone 7 is only allowed to be released on mobile phones with high end specifications so do not expect to find in on phones below Php20,000 for awhile.
Apple is used to going it on its own, delivering a premium product to a small segment of the market. This is the way Apple wants it, and I suspect even they are surprised by their 17% market share. If they wanted to increase their market share, all they would have to do is to release a lower end lower cost smartphone. But that it not what Apple wants to do. They have not done it with their Mac powered PC's in two decades, I do not see why they will do it with their iPhone. Windows did not kill the Mac OS, Android wont kill the iOS.
But on desktop and laptops, there really has been room for only two. Despite how good the Linux based operating systems is, software developers do not want to develop content which has to be compatible with so many operating systems. We see the same thing happening with smartphones. This time next year we expect that Android would have obtained 50% or more of the smarthpone market share and more and more software developers will continue to developed for applications for the Android.
Despite all the complaints from about Microsoft, a common standard really is not a bad thing. Welcome to a Google world.