updated 04:15 pm EDT, Tue April 27, 2010
Google's Rubin sees Android lead as inevitable
Android will inevitably get larger than the BlackBerry or iPhone, Google's engineering VP Andy Rubin argued today in a bold statement. He saw it as "just a matter of time" since the open nature of Android meant it could be used by multiple phone makers and multiple devices where the in-house Apple and RIM platforms are limited by their nature. The senior staffer wouldn't commit to a timeframe for when he thought this would happen.
"I don't know when its might be, but I'm confident it will happen," Rubin told the NYT. "Open usually wins."
So far, Google has had limited success. Android has been making rapid advances in market share in key areas but is still considerably smaller than either the BlackBerry or iPhone platforms, even in its home territory of the US. HTC is the only manufacturer of the sort to consistently improve sales where Motorola and others have struggled.
Also, while not as open as Android, Windows Mobile has bled away most of its share partly because Microsoft's approach to a many-manufacturer strategy failed to persuade buyers. It has acknowledged that policies around requirements and licensing to a lowest common denominator effect, where many phones reflected poorly on Windows Mobile by being too slow or feature-limited. Windows Phone 7 is a partial reversal of that strategy and sets both a bar for hardware and limits on what hardware and software firms can produce.
Rubin was also puzzled by Apple's strategy of filtering apps and dictating APIs, and went so far as to liken closed-off systems like that and RIM's to a totalitarian government. "When they can’t have something, people do care. Look at the way politics work. I just don’t want to live in North Korea," he argued.
Jobs' repeated instances of attacking Android as a haven for porn created a disconnect of their own and led Rubin to believe that Apple's culture was fundamentally disconnected from Google's. He couldn't provide "a rationale for that" and teased that if Google were to have a high-profile phone leak he would actually encourage it as it would put more details out in the open.
"With openness comes less secrets," he stated.