The openness of Google's Android platform has been both a blessing and a curse for the mobile industry.
The software is free for manufacturers to use, allowing them to focus on hardware while decreasing development costs for mobile device software. At the same time, though, the many different versions of Android can make compatibility a nightmare for app developers. Either way Google must be happy - more consumers online directly correlates to more ad revenue for the world's largest online ad company. Unless, that is, manufacturers go to great lengths to wipe all traces of Google from the Android operating system.
Market research firm ABI today released a report showing that the number of Android mobile devices shipped during the fourth quarter of 2013 increased by 51% year-over-year to 221.5 million units shipped. The total market share for mobile phones running android now sits at a still-dominant 77%.
However, a full 25% of the mobile phones shipped during the fourth quarter were versions of Android with Google services stripped out - what ABI calls AOSP. These types of devices grew 137% year-over-year with over 71 million shipped during the fourth quarter.
“The growth of AOSP is significant for Android’s owner Google, because AOSP does not offer Google’s services (due to their unavailability in China), impacting Google’s ability to monetize the Android ecosystem,” said Nick Spencer, senior practice director for mobile devices at ABI.
As emerging markets begin to play a more significant role in the mobile market, Google may see the percentage of AOSP devices rise in countries such as China or India. At the same time the mobile market's second-place company, Apple, will also be competing with low-priced local brands in these same emerging markets.
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