Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Google's Android Platform Gets CDMA Upgrade on US Carrier Networks - Potential to Usurp iPhone

Locking potentially lucrative customer base on the basis of network technology is never really conducive to the growth of mobile applications. Recently, Android's released a new SDK (Version 1.6) that has allowed CDMA developers to access a potentially massive market of CDMA subscribers. The new update allows for Android phones to run on CDMA cell phones rather than the traditional GSM network compatible phones. This update is important when placed in the context that most Android phone manufacturers have been traditionally pushing phones that are only GSM compatible. HTC has been the biggest supplier with phones such as the Magic, Hero, Touch Pro 2, and a whole slew of variants. Although GSM networks are prevalent all over the world, the penetration of GSM networks in the technologically developed areas of the world has been surprising low. As a result, developers have been locked out of the CDMA market for quite some time.

The overall importance of this update cannot be underestimated. The number of customers that are still traditionally locked to CDMA networks has left them yearning for a chance to utilize the Android platform. The general market perception of most consumers is that GSM networks are for the technologically advanced, while reinforcing this concept that GSM networks are unreliable in comparison to CDMA networks. Although companies such as T-Mobile and AT&T are changing the overall perception of customers regarding the growth potential of GSM networks, Verizon still leads the pack with its' CDMA network and services offered to customers. With brand loyalty running deep with customers, few customers are willing to switch cell phone service providers without a significant reason for doing so.

Regardless, the growth and popularity of the iPhone and the resultant growth in application development can be linked directly to the ability of the iPhone to run on GSM networks. Internationally speaking, almost all international service providers are running on GSM networks. The inherent appeal and style element coupled with the jailbreaking of the iPhone has meant that the iPhone has international appeal to customers. The demand of iPhones overseas is phenomenal, with the influx of iPhones in new markets; new supporting industries have grown around the hardware. The massive boom in application for the iPhone is a testament of the popularity of the iPhone. The international markets have had a significant impact in directing the growth of application development for the iPhone. AT&T's GSM network is another factor that has helped the iPhone app movement grow. The improved data protocols and transmissions means have meant that the iPhone became widely accepted in a variety of markets and helped fuel application development based on the iPhone SDK. The iPhones' first mover advantage has let Apple capture a significant portion of the market.

However, all hope is not lost for Android phones. The Android platform mirrors almost all the features that the iPhone platform with a significant advantage that it is capable of handling the growing power and processing capabilities of new phones. Unfortunately the direct tie-down to GSM only networks has meant that users who are traditionally risk-averse but still open to new technology are left out. A simple Google search alone shows the number Verizon users have stated they would be interested in purchasing iPhones if they were compatible with Verizon's CDMA network. The service and features offered by Verizon's CDMA network has meant that very few customers have moved to other networks. As a result, the logical step would be to bring the Android platform to Verizon customers. The new SDK release addresses this concern, and has opened new markets for the Android platform to be pushed into.

Considering that Verizon has a strong 3G network on its' CDMA network, the Android phones can fully utilize their hardware and software. With a huge potential base of customers that will want apps to run on their expensive high-performance phones, developers will be working overtime to produce killer apps. This new market will push app development in a similar impetus as the iPhone thanks to the number of customers on CDMA networks in technologically developed areas. The Android platform has been able to access what was a closed target market by changing the software requirements, a very savvy move considering the popularity of the iPhone.

Android is slowly gearing itself for a huge boom in application development. With the design and manufacture of stunning high-performance phones along with opening of new markets, it seems that the iPhone is about encounter some serious competition from the Android platform.

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