August 23, 2014

PRTM Analyzes Android and Forecasts the Future

Global management consulting firm PRTM recently spent some analyzing Android as a platform by benchmarking 57 handsets from 12 companies. They were looking at specific criteria such as the formal release date, the launch itself, and the chipset used in each device in order to forecast where the industry was headed.  The findings were put together in a post title, appropriately, Android—Friend or Foe?

While handset makers like HTC, Motorola, LG, and Samsung continued to do well over the last few years, other companies are trying their hands at the smart phone game. Thanks to Android, we are now becoming more familiar with phones from Dell, Acer, Huawei, and more. Is the platform going to continue to let more players on the field or will it ultimately the weapon that kills some of today’s brands?

Here are three of PRTM’s findings:

  • The average cycle time for handsets first sold in 2008 based on Qualcomm’s QSD8250 chipset and Android’s Donut 1.6 release was a brief 8 months. By late 2009, the average cycle time for handsets based on Qualcomm’s MSM7227 chipset and Android’s Eclair 2.1 release had nearly halved, down to 4.5 months. This is “warp speed” for complex smartphones.
  • Next, Android has removed speed as a source of advantage. In the past, fast to market vendors could gain themselves six to nine months of highly profitable advantage. But now vendor cycle times are virtually identical—they can all deliver handsets based on the latest Android release within 16–20 weeks.
  • Third, most of the handsets—77% of the sample—are based on Qualcomm chipsets. Seasoned observers may find this ominous. Over the years, Microsoft and Intel have captured far more value than the makers of the PCs. Will “Quadroid” become the new Wintel?

Now, looking to the future, what does PRTM see happening with Android?  We won’t spoil the full report, but we’ll tease you with a couple of bullet points.

  • Handset developers must urgently seek new sources of differentiation…
  • Handset vendors that do not want to be entirely subordinated to Google will have to decide which other operating systems could be their best dual-source alternative…
  • Good-but-not-great products will languish…

Be sure to read the rest of the PRTM report to see how Android has evolved and where it might be headed.