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Android takes fight to Apple in emerging markets

by Sarah Griffiths on 5 July 2010, 14:53

Tags: Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Lenovo

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World domination

Google plans to step up its increasingly popular Android phone proposition in emerging markets such as China and India in a bid to boost competition with its rivals.

According to The New York Times, the super search firm will also look for better ways for developers to cash in on their app creations. Andy Rubin, vice president for engineering at Google told the paper the company is mulling offering tools to help programmers sell subscriptions and virtual goods from inside applications. 

Google also reportedly plans to add Android to cheaper Huawei and LG phones in some parts of Europe and Asia to step up the pressure on Nokia, which currently dominates this market.

The search giant's move to push its software onto more mobile devices ultimately stems from its desire to sell advertising and boost its revenue, with experts predicting the mobile ad market will soar to over $13bn in 2013 from a relatively humble $1bn last year.

Despite the rapid growth of Google's mobile platform, Android has 65,000 apps compared to Apple's gargantuan 200,000. Google reportedly hopes it can accelerate its growth by expanding into emerging markets, currently relatively overlooked by its rival.

Market research firm, Gartner reportedly expects Android to eclipse iOS by 2012 and take the silver medal for most popular operating system, behind Nokia's now open-source OS, Symbian.

While Chinese manufacturer Huawei recently launched four Android-powered phones and a tablet, smaller firms, making up about 10 percent of the Chinese mobile market, are also loading Android onto cheaper handsets. Experts predict a success will prove an upset to Nokia, which still dominates the lower price section of the market.

The head of China's top PC maker, Lenovo has warned Apple is missing put on a great opportunity to enter the Chinese market, according to The Financial Times. Liu Chuanzhi told the FT: "If Apple were to spend the same effort on the Chinese consumer as we do, we would be in trouble."

Lenovo presently commands just over one third of its home market, predicted to become the biggest global market within a year.  Despite it being incredibly difficult to get hold of any official Apple products inside China, the firm's products are in high demand.

However, the iPhone, which has been available from China Unicom, has not sold brilliantly well, possibly because the expensive handset is more affordable if purchased from unofficial vendors. Lenovo told the FT its first mobile handset and rival offering, LePhone, should compete well with the iPhone as it is designed from scratch to offer Chinese users a more intuitive user experience.

Apple told the FT it recognises growth opportunities in the region and plans to have 25 shops in China by the close of 2010.


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