Now that Google has announced the Nexus One – its own version of an Android-based “app phone” (h/t David Pogue) – they have enhanced the likelihood of an even larger and faster-growing base of Adroid apps than we predicted last month.
In IDC Predictions 2010, we forecasted that “Google Android — now on a dozen devices — will emerge as a potent competitor to the iPhone, BlackBerry, Symbian, and Microsoft platforms.” We went on to say “there are now about 10,000 applications for Android; we predict there will be a strong ramp (albeit slower than the iPhone app ramp) for Android — look for 50,000–75,000 applications by the end of 2010.”
Why, you may ask, did we envision a slower ramp than for iPhone apps? This is what we said: “The advantage of Android — that it’s more “open” than the iPhone platform — creates more compatibility challenges for developers across the different device manufacturers’ hardware.” And this multiple-manufacturers philosophy has, indeed, created some compatibility/portability frustration for the Android developer community.
But now, with the Nexus One effectively creating a strong reference platform for Android apps, Google is trying to mitigate that issue. The Nexus One will likely drive other Android handset manufacturers to put more a bit more weight on compatibility with the Nexus One implementation of Android, and less on hacking/modifying Android to adapt to their own unique hardware designs. And that’s good news for Android developers – and customers.
So – if it’s not too soon to adjust our 2010 predictions (heck, it’s only January 5th!) – we’d like to revise our year-end 2010 Android apps prediction to 75,000-100,000, closer to the iPhone’s year one trajectory. We’re not quite predicting that Apple’s running for cover; the Nexus One is, after all, a version 1.0 product, and the iPhone continues to have enormous momentum. But with Google’s strategic move to strengthen (and de-fragment) its mobile apps platform, Apple is certainly looking at a tougher competitor today than they saw yesterday.