The rise of Android, another killer ingredient brand ~ Brand Mix

Monday, May 2, 2011

The rise of Android, another killer ingredient brand

Nielsen data on smartphone share (recent acquirers) as reported in Fortune
When Android first started outselling the iPhone about a year ago, PCWorld said it was no big surprise because: "Two models of the iPhone (the 3GS and 3G) are doing battle with scads of Android handsets in an array of shapes and sizes" (my emphasis).

As you can see from the Nielsen data in the chart, Android has continued to move ahead and now has half of the market of recent acquirers. Even the launch of the Verizon iPhone hasn't slowed down Android's march to the top. Nokia, once the dominant market leader, has been reduced to irrelevance and there's increasing speculation about whether it will be forced to dump Symbian, its own operating system, and join the Android party. Forecasts suggest that there could half a billion people using the Android OS by 2015.

With results like this, Android can lay claim to the title of most successful ingredient brand of all time, challenging the previously unassailable Intel. Like Intel, Android has achieved its success at the expense of its host brands. We talk about Android phones, we don't talk about Motorola phones with the Android operating system. Motorola may have found a new lease of life by adopting the Android OS but its margin opportunities are significantly eroded if it's just one of many manufacturers who can supply Android phones. Any manufacturer that partners with an ingredient brand as strong as an Android or an Intel trades away a good portion of its equity and heads towards commodity status.

One important difference between Android and Intel is that Intel made itself really difficult to extract from its hosts. The significant marketing dollars that Intel has spent both directly to the consumer and indirectly through advertising subsidies to its OEM partners worked their magic. The OEMs became addicted to the money and consumers were trained to look for the Intel mark. Android has take a different route to market, gaining market traction quickly by being offered for “free" and without significant marketing support.

That means that, despite the huge success of Android so far, it's possible that some manufacturers may still be able to liberate themselves from their Android dependency. Indeed, there are reports that Motorola is going to try and develop a new, proprietary OS. There may not be much time left. A future where there's just Apple's iPhone vs. a mass of Android smartphones that compete against each other on price and a few relatively unimportant features (much like current PC’s) looks the most likely scenario.

Reference: Ingredient branding, or, finding your Nemo (


Anonymous said...

Excellent article Martin. I have one comments though.

As per your last paragraph, I wonder how realistic Motorala's chances are to come up with an operating system that can do what Symbian failed to do in the last 5 years.

I remember I had two great devices (one Siemens and one Ericsson) running on Symbian. This was before iPhone. What looked unbeatable became irrelevant once iPhone and Android hit the market. Therefore, I expect further consolidation in this market (similar to PC OS market). That does not mean there won't be a market for "niche" systems, like Linux.

What do you think?

Business Plans said...
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Sandra Ponce de Leon said...

Thanks for the insightful post, its true with the Android OS there are very few differentiators left to OEMs or Carriers. Creating a differentiated interface is really the only ammo left to minimize the commoditization of their brands, yet the cost of development and maintenance will continue to chip away at their already slim margins. We're working on a next generation, customizable interface that can be leveraged by our OEM / Carrier partners to precisely tackle this issue.

barbara said...
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Edie Jams said...

this is really informative post about The rise of Android, another killer ingredient brand thanks to share this kind of branding post.

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