What typically gets lost in a lot of the horserace coverage comparing iOS and Android market share is the impact that both platforms have on the broader consumer electronics industry. Benedict Evans has a terrific post outlining how Android’s impact goes well beyond smartphone and tablet shipment numbers that garner headlines and extends to letting a whole new crop of consumer electronics companies add a level of intelligence to their devices that had previously not been possible.
For instance, Evans notes that small electronics firms are using Android to make television dongles and in-car video players that are outside of the traditional smartphone and tablet silos. He also thinks that we’ll start to see a flurry of Nest imitators that use Android to power their smart thermostats and other household appliances. The bottom line, says Evans, is that Android has become the go-to platform for any smaller company that has a killer idea on how to make a more intelligent version of consumer electronics products that we’ve long taken for granted.
While this is certainly a good thing for consumers, Evans notes that it might not necessarily be good for Google since many of these devices will be very specialized and won’t use Google services such as Maps and Gmail the way that smartphones and tablets do.
“The important dynamic here is that a combination of very cheap off-the-shelf chips and free off-the-shelf software means that Android/ARM has become a new de facto platform for any piece of smart connected electronics,” Evans writes. “It might have a screen and it might connect to the internet, but it’s really a little computer doing something useful and specialized, and it probably has nothing to do with Google… there’s also the beginnings of a trend… devices that weren’t smart and didn’t get merged into the phone gaining a digital presence of their own, and creating a new set of opportunities.”