If you read a lot of Electronic House profiles of cool automated homes and integrated audio/video systems, you might believe that the world is completely run on Apple’s iOS. That may be close to the truth, but if so, it’s only because so many control systems haven’t haven’t yet developed a competitive Android approach to the control market.
But they better do that soon. Market research firm IDC released some startling numbers last week. Android OS holds a whopping 75-percent of the worldwide smartphone market, compared to Apple’s 15 percent. Among the Android devices, Samsung was the leading brand.
Windows smartphones came in 5th (not last), but the new Windows 8 phones have yet to hit the market.
Surprised? Me to. U.S. market share may be very different, but even so, this is a sign that Apple isn’t the monopoly player a lot of companies think it is.
Samsung Galaxy S III
What about tablets? The iPad is still the dominant smart tablet in the US, and the more affordable iPad Mini should make adoption easier for more people, but the iPad Mini also attracted attention to other small form factor tablets that cost a lot less.
By the third quarter of this year, Apple had lost some market share to Android tablets by Samsung, Amazon, Asus and others, but the present fourth quarter with two new tablets may make up for that loss.
Still, the impressive growth of Android in the past year should validate it for 3rd party control companies. The market has seen a number of new control systems emerge, all based around an iOS device as the main interface. Those same companies appear to look at Android as an afterthought. A few have handled it right—HAI even developed an app specifically to support the Kindle Fire.
It’s true that several of the entrenched control companies have Android apps, but in taking to integrators who use these systems, the Android apps aren’t nearly as well-developed as the iOS versions, and don’t get the same support.
In my own house we have a mix of Android and iOS smart devices. I would find it a little aggravating if I needed to use one to turn down the lights and another to adjust the thermostat. With the country’s biggest selling season almost upon us, the market will likely see a huge influx of additional Android products landing in people’s homes, and those people won’t want to dump the system they’re comfortable with just because they’re new multiroom music or security system doesn’t support Android.
Remember that 75 percent number—it may come to haunt you.
Related: Crestron Announces Android App
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.