It is no secret that Android is and will continue to be the number one smartphone platform. So much so, that the word smartphone is synonymous with it running on Android. There was initially a time when Android was still in its primary stages in 2008 and it took two years and a Samsung Galaxy S to bring it into prominence. But in Samsung, Google had and still has a very viable OEM that has worked tirelessly at mass producing a plethora of Android devices at every price point, covering all demographics. Not to mention it has been one of the biggest spenders in R&D and has implemented all of its in-house components to its Android devices. Take the Exynos chipsets and the SuperAMOLED screens for instance.
So the question is where does Google go from here on in? The Mountain View based company almost never puts a step wrong when it comes to investments, and following that trend, they invested in Android, with the understanding that the smartphone market would be the among the fastest growing ones; and it still is. However it can be argued that Google missed a beat with explosion of the tablet (iPad) market. The popularity and growth of the iPad might have come as a shock to everyone but the people at Cupertino. Even though Honeycomb was a good tablet OS, it was not as fluid or as simple as iOS on tablets. And perhaps widgets didn't/don't make as much sense on a tablet. Most importantly, Android was quite barren in tablet specific apps when Honeycomb was released. So, it took a few years, $200 tablets, the Asus Transformer line of devices and Kindle Fire for Android tablets to gain some momentum. But much work is still left to be done.
The reason the iPad succeeded was because it had advertised itself as a device meant to watch movies, browse and play games on. Not as a device with content creation and productivity at its base. However, Android has always said that productivity was a key area in tablets and along with its shortcomings with the tablet OS, it never really properly competed with Apple. The Transformer line of devices from Asus, while initially a breath of fresh air with the detachable keyboard, never really proved as fruitful, mainly because of its OS limitations. They tried to find the right balance between content consumption and creation but fell short of the mark in both parts.
The idea that tablets and smartphones would eventually eat into the desktop PC and laptop market was always there and it is exactly what is happening. Perhaps, netbooks are soon to see its date of extinction as a result of this phenomenon. But desktop PC's and laptops, especially with the emergence of ultrabooks are here to stay. Google needs to try to take Android to the PC and desktop market and also improve on hybrid touchscreen laptops. Microsoft's latest iteration of Windows shows that it had touchscreen devices and ARM processors (which mostly run these devices) in mind – so much so, that using Windows 8 on a desktop can initially feel intrusive and somewhat counterproductive. Google has already made handheld smartphone usage as easy as can be and has recently made further advancements with its API to make app developing better and easier.
Google will try to provide products to developing markets at highly competitive prices as has been seen with the Nexus range of devices last year. Perhaps the next iteration of Android – Key Lime Pie – will work on these areas. With increased competition from Microsoft's latest version of Windows, this can only lead to better products from Google and in the end making the consumer the biggest benefactor.