Here’s The 5 Biggest Threats to Android’s Ongoing Supremacy

More than half a decade ago, Google gifted the world with a new mobile operating system called Android. Its main purpose was to deliver a markedly better overall computing experience than its predecessors, which were largely outdated, locked down, and proprietary.

Google went up against the likes of Nokia, BlackBerry, and Microsoft, offering consumers a new open mobile platform meant to be driven by innovation. It partnered with hardware makers and kept releasing new software features.

Now, Android is the most popular smartphone OS on the planet, accounting for over 60% of all such devices currently in use. Its presence in the tablet market is also growing, and it has pretty much left most of its competitors in the dust.

To some, it might look as if Android is unstoppable.

But of course, it isn’t.

As the saying goes, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. While it’s unlikely that any one reason along can cause Android to fail completely, there are a number of different factors that are affecting it all at the same time.

Here are five of the biggest threats that could, gasp, eventually lead to the fall of Android:

1. Fragmentation

Android version history
(Source: Wikipedia)

Because of Android’s open nature, it is subject to some interesting problems. One example is fragmentation, which is by far one of the biggest issues affecting it as a platform. What is it exactly?

Fragmentation on Android refers to the fact that there are far too many different-looking, different-flavored devices out on the market already, and there are even more variations that are still on the way. This leads to problems like app incompatibility, the use of outdated software on certain devices, and plain old confusion for some customers.

Back when Android was still a new entrant to the mobile device market, and the number of Android devices available could be counted on two hands, it didn’t matter that Google seemed intent on releasing a new version of the OS every few months. But now, there are far too many players involved, producing too many skins, software versions, apps, and devices. All this has become quite a serious concern.

Even with Google’s ongoing push to “unite” the originally separate smartphone and tablet versions of Android, things aren’t getting any better. Unless Google suddenly decides to make Android a proprietary OS, or becomes the sole Android device maker, fragmentation and all of the issues that come along with it will threaten Android’s dominance.

2. Malware

Android malware
(Source: Digital Trends)

Yes, malware can be found on Android. And no, it probably isn’t going to go away any time soon. When you combine the fact that Android is free and open with how big it has gotten after just a few short years in existence, it’s not that hard to imagine why so much malware has apparently been created for it already. This particular issue has become so bad that security firm Trend Micro‘s Rik Ferguson has tagged it as “an embarrassing problem.”

Numerous reports from the world’s most reputable security firms over the last few months have confirmed that the issue of malware on Android is indeed a rising threat. And the fragmentation problem mentioned earlier is not exactly helping.

The bigger Android gets, the more Android-powered devices there will be. And that will make the platform as a whole an even bigger target for malware attacks in the future.

Currently, there are ways to keep Android malware at bay. These include installing anti-malware apps, adopting and using best practices to keep malware attacks and their effects at a minimum, and relying on plain old common sense. Unfortunately, doing one or all of these still won’t be enough to fully guarantee a device’s safety. And the worst thing about all of this is, it doesn’t seem like Google is seriously looking into it.

3. HTML 5 and the Open Web

Ubuntu smartphone
(Source: Ubuntu OS for phones)

HTML 5 and the Open Web platfom — what’s it all about? Some people would tell you it’s all about cloud computing. And they would be correct. But really, it’s much more than that. The cloud is going to play a much bigger role in the lives of computer users as we go further into the future.

Right now, a lot of big names in the tech world are involved in the push towards a more cloud-centric approach to computing. Google itself is one of cloud computing’s biggest proponents (Chrome OS, anyone?). But Android isn’t the most cloud-friendly OS out for tablets and smartphones.

There’s Ubuntu OS, Firefox OS, and a few other HTML 5-based software solutions that could someday take over what is today considered as Android’s stronghold.

4. Amazon

Amazon Kindle Fire
They did it with tablets. And they could do it again with smartphones. Amazon theoretically has the power to bite off a big chunk of the smartphone market, and it just might end up doing that if it ever gets around to releasing its very own Android-powered phone — the Kindle Phone.

Some would argue that Amazon getting into the smartphone game is actually a good thing, because after all, if it releases something based on Android, then it’s only going to take away market share from the likes of the Apple iPhone (which runs iOS) or Nokia’s Lumia series phones (which run Microsoft’s Windows Phone software). In reality, things would turn out differently because Amazon uses a heavily modified version of Android on its devices. At least so far it has, and there’s no indication that it will stop doing so for whatever it releases in the future.

Once Amazon releases its own Android-powered handsets, it will end up competing with Google itself in the “highly affordable and feature-rich yet user-friendly device” department. This could then ultimately take the fragmentation problem up to a whole new level.

5. Samsung

Samsung Galaxy S4
(Source: Samsung)

Once a lowly OEM, Samsung has risen to become one of the world’s most formidable consumer electrics companies. It currently owns the biggest share of the mobile device market, which includes both tablets and smartphones, and it owes a lot of its current success to Google and the Android operating system.

Or does it? It could be argued that Android owes much of its success to Samsung, for the most popular and best-selling Android phones and tablets have all been Samsung-made. Samsung is everywhere. Its presence is felt very strongly in the world of consumer electronics, but nowhere more so than in places that have to do with Android. Even Google itself, the granddaddy of all things Android, can’t compete.

If Samsung decided to ditch Google’s open mobile platform and go in an entirely different direction software-wise, as some have speculated, they might just take the bulk of their loyal customers with them. In fact, despite near runaway success in the world of Android, Samsung is already looking at other software solutions for its future lineup of devices. There’s Tizen, for instance. Not to mention Microsoft’s Windows Phone and possibly Ubuntu OS for smartphones.

Samsung will either win the software game against Google and the rest of the mobile industry, or end up learning one of history’s biggest lessons the hard way: never outshine the master. In any case, Google might be wise to “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer”.