The Hills Are Greener: The Importance of Emerging Markets to Android

The Hills Are Greener: The Importance of Emerging Markets to Android

Jul 23, 2012

I was recently talking to PapayaMobile’s CEO Si Shen and she brought up an interesting point: part of the reason why Android is the target for companies like PapayaMobile: Android is particularly attractive to an international market.

In particular, Android’s availability of cheap hardware in emerging markets is why the platform is so expansive. While developers complain about all the cifferent variations on Android hardware out there, they are the reason why Android is such an expansive opportunity. In developing countries, an Android device may be the way to get smartphones in to people’s hands. And it isn’t just a business opportunity, look at the influence that social media has had in the Arab Spring. Smartphones can provide open access to services and information that can make life better for people everywhere, and Android is set to take advantage of that opportunity, where Apple has yet to focus on the market.

Of course, as John Gruber speculates, Apple may be keeping older hardware like the 3GS around because they want to break into emerging markets. If they can keep manufacturing costs down on the 3GS and/or the iPhone 4, there’s no reason why they couldn’t break in. It may be the next big battlefield for Google and Apple, the one that western markets may not be aware of

Yes, this means that many of the phones are going to be low-end because of their price. And “If you’re comparing ARPU or the kind of money that you can make on each phone, Android’s probably not comparable to iOS. But if you’re counting the whole Google market, the volume that Android can achieve, iPhone is probably not comparable. So, if you’re talking in terms of volume, then Android is definitely a bigger market.”

That’s the exact point: Android’s userbase is the opportunity. It’s why the platform probably won’t be going away any time soon.