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iPhone 4: what it means for Google Android

iPhone 4: what it means for Google Android

The battle between Apple’s iOS and iPhone and Google’s Android has seemingly taken a back seat in the run-up to the release of the iPhone 4 tomorrow. But both systems are getting new updates which will make them leaders in the smartphone field. If not in terms of hard sales, most definitely in terms of specs and features.

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So what does iPhone 4 really mean for Google and its mobile operating system? At the start of May, NPD figures released in the US claimed that Google had usurped Apple across The Pond, with Android nabbing 28 per cent of the market, while the iPhone lingered back on 21 per cent. The veracity of these figures was called into question almost immediately by Apple, who claimed that NPD’s sample wasn’t wide enough.

Indeed, Steve Jobs himself slipped in his own little pie chart during his iPhone 4 keynote, giving the iPhone 28 per cent of US smartphone market share, while Google was way back on nine per cent. Of course, BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) is winning big time over in the US, while Nokia maintains a stronghold on global sales. But this is more about features than it is sales. Apple and Google’s mobile operating systems clearly inform each other, despite official claims to the contrary.

iPhone 4 lays down some important markers which Google will be looking to best with Android 3.0 Gingerbread when it arrives later this year. In terms of business, iAds provides a commercial alternative to AdMob and Google will definitely be looking at more innovative ways of getting advertising space into apps sold through Android Market.

This may prove more of a challenge what with Android Market being less regulated than the App Store, but it’s a battleground it’s keen to win on. After all, these operating systems are as much about making money as they are about pleasing gadget fans.


But from a consumer angle, there are other features Android will be looking to bulk up. These will require close work with manufacturers to ensure top-end handsets are primed. HD video is becoming a huge draw, but Android now needs a smart video editing solution, what with iMovie heading to the iPhone 4 (and Nokia’s N8 package not far off).

This is an area that will show fast growth as punters become accustomed to not only direct uploads to YouTube, but also the ability to up the production values of the videos they share from their smartphones.

In terms of display, Android has already got some smart efforts lined up, such as the Samsung Galaxy S. But Google will want to ensure all its top efforts can go mano-o-mano with the iPhone 4’s Retina Display and come out on top. At the moment, that isn’t the case and again this will require close work between manufacturers and the Big G to do the business and offer something compelling.

Much maligned as it is, FaceTime will also inform Google’s video calling push. Most top Android phones have a front-facing camera, but Apple’s approach to this feature is refreshing and different as it uses both cameras for a more immersive experience. iPhone 4 can teach Google the power of getting this feature into a wider install base, before it beats it to the punch by making it work over 3G as well as Wi-Fi.

iPhone 4 is edging Android on paper right now. But give Google time and it’ll doubtless nudge ahead once more thanks to its multiple update policy. Some may be blinded by Google’s constant boosts to Android, but it does mean we won’t have to wait long to see what it’s learned from Apple’s all new offering.

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