What Android needs in 2023 against the iPhone in the USA, one of the only markets where Apple is ahead

For the first time in over a decade, Android fell to second position in the United States, behind the iPhone. The open and free operating system, which still equips the majority of telephones in the world, is present on the devices of Samsung, Motorola and OnePlus. Even when paired with budget brands such as TCL, Nokia, and Blu, Android-powered devices fail to outsell iPhone sales in the United States.

From a global perspective, Apple’s dominance is an aberration. The United States, Canada and Japan are the only countries where Apple has an advantage over Android. Elsewhere, Android is largely often on your mind.

Android’s delay is a testament to the cachet Apple has built around the iPhone franchise. From celebrities photographed in cafes with an iPhone to their ears to late-night entertainers chatting with an Apple Watch strapped to their wrist, Apple products are both a function and a mode of the American aristocratic class. And thanks to iMessage, Apple has created a partition of messaging, with the “haves” enjoying blue bubble gardens and the “have-nots” being relegated to green misery. Even movie villains can’t be filmed with an iPhone.

But there are reasons to be optimistic about Android’s attempts to reclaim the crown in the United States. Google is building an ecosystem to surround the Pixel 7, most notably with the introduction of the Pixel Watch. A Pixel tablet is planned for next year. And Android has its own rabid fanbase, even if they’re not on a Hollywood movie set.

So what can Google do to make Android relevant again in the US? Here are some leads.

Doubling of the ecosystem

Google took too long to release the Pixel Watch, let the Apple Watch act like a Trojan horse, and keep people locked in Apple’s backyard.

“Apple such a sticky ecosystem. Especially the Watch, once you buy that watch, you’re locked into an iPhone,” said Techsponential analyst Avi Greengart. Google didn’t experience this until this year. “And even his first watch is really a 1.0 product”.

Google’s slowness to bring the Pixel Watch to market allows the Apple Watch to stay far ahead. At least now there’s an option for Pixel owners to not feel left out.

The American market differs from the rest of the world in that there is much less competition in the Android space. Concerns about Chinese tech companies tracking American consumers have prevented brands like Huawei, Xiaomi and Oppo from operating in the United States. So there are only a handful of brands that can sell alternatives apart from Samsung and Google.

“Having more devices in the market also gives carriers more choice of devices that they can give away for free or promote more,”
said Anshel Sag, analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.

The lack of manufacturer diversity is just one of the problems with Google. The iPad line remains a hugely popular second-screen device, serving as a gateway to the internet for toddlers and seniors alike. Only one high-quality Android tablet comes to mind with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Plus, but its software isn’t nearly as polished as the iPad OS, and it often feels like it’s ‘a widescreen version of android. Google has already announced a “premium” Pixel tablet for 2023, but it’ll have to really impress to attract the crowd of consumers trained to consider the iPad as the go-to tablet.

Unfortunately, one area where Google may not be able to offer a viable competitor to Apple is in laptop and of home computing. Google’s Chromebooks are great affordable laptops for basic tasks, but they lack the power and flexibility to deliver macOS and Windows functionality. This is a market that has already been carved out by Apple and Microsoft, which makes it difficult for Google to create a viable alternative. And even if it did, the installed base would be so small that it wouldn’t attract the best developers. In this case, the best option for Google is to continue to better integrate its products with Mac and Windows machines to provide an experience comparable to that of iPhone and Mac.

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One area where Google dominates Apple is in smart home. Cupertino is rarely asked to venture into new product categories, as evidenced by years of rumors involving Apple’s supposed VR/AR headset and Apple Car. The company has tried to make an effort on home devices with HomeKit, but it has been forgotten. Google, on the other hand, is very present in the smart home space with its voice assistant-supported displays, like the Nest Hub, and its WiFi, Doorbell and Nest Camera products.

Unfortunately, the smart home industry has stagnated with a dizzying array of competing products confusing consumers. Someone who has an Amazon Alexa smart speaker might not be sure it will cooperate with their Google Nest doorbell.

This is where Matter comes in, a universal smart home standard that will allow new home appliances, regardless of brand, to communicate with each other. Even Apple, the company that likes to create walled gardens, has joined the Connected Standards Alliancealongside Amazon, Google, Samsung, Ikea, Lutron, Signify and others.

“This is an area where Google could take advantage, building more of these controls or exposing them more in Android,” Greengart said. This includes crafting a person’s homepage, widgets, and creating connections between multiple devices. Greengart said it was up to Google to let people know that thesmart home interoperability can best be achieved on Android.

Beat Apple in innovation

The Google product events keep getting better, bringing greater production value and greater fanfare, but they still can’t quite capture the same magic that Apple has. The Cupertino, California firm still has this ability to generate enthusiasm for its range of products and services. The enthusiastic speeches of the leaders, coupled with quality production, can make it seem that Apple brings the latest in technology and innovation, even if this is not always the case.

High-refresh-rate screens, optical image stabilization and laser autofocus, all features that Apple raves about, came to Android first.

But there are consumers who don’t stop at fancy macro shots and want to be the first to discover new technologies. This is an area where Google should redouble its efforts to appeal to enthusiasts.

There are already rumors of a foldable Pixel device that could compete with Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 4.

” I think [Samsung] really starting to gain momentum in this area. And I think it shows, but the problem is the price, right? », Sag said. If Samsung can continue to drive down the price of foldable devices, it will help bolster the performance of the category, leading to more competition.
“As a result, competition will likely equal more sales and more competitive pricing. »

Google has also been heavily advertising Pixel features like live translation.you in its ad for the 2022 World Cup. The Pixel 7 is also the official smartphone for NBA fans this season, with an ad played on stage by player Giannis Antetokounmpo and actor Simu Liu. Google also reportedly topped the biggest order of Pixel 7 devices, more than any previous iteration. Regardless of celebrity sales and endorsements, Google needs to make the Pixel feel premium and exclusive, almost anathema to the fundamental vision of Android as a free and open-source operating system. Because, if Apple’s success is any indication, people like to feel like they’re in the “crowd.”

CNET.com article adapted by CNET France

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