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Android Platform and Diffusion of Innovations Essay


Executive Summary

Mobile apps and other modern computing methods have led to a rapid shift toward the digital-driven economy. Smartphones are specifically important in this paradigm shift, and the Android platform is a critical player in the smartphone sector. This report explores the Android platform using Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation Theory to demonstrate its success and possible drawbacks. Android platform success is mainly attributed to the open-source approach and free license adopted by Google to promote innovation and mass adoption. Android platform is most likely to continue to grow, but Google must carefully evaluate threats from its fragmented nature. Nevertheless, it remains one of the most important pieces of innovation that is driving the digital economy while disrupting traditional practices in entrepreneurship.


Digital Economies are dynamic and, thus, invention and innovations are crucial for their sustained success. Further, the concepts of digital humanities and digital research infrastructures are exceedingly growing. This report applies the Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation Theory on Google’s Android platform to explain its success. Android platform is a customarily used digital product that has gained popularity over a short period. Therefore, its relevance in the study of business innovation in digital economies is apparent.

The fact that android is globally used with colossal success rationalizes its selection as the subject of study in business innovation in digital economies. Since its inception in 2003 and the subsequent purchase by Google in 2006, the Android platform has made a substantive impact in the mobile device operating system industry. Before the innovation, mobile devices had basic functionality. Building applications was difficult and extremely involving. To fill this market niche, Android came with the free open-source operating system. This allows turbocharged innovation and further enhances specialization since manufactures and developers can now focus on their areas of specialty (Lockheimer 2015 ).

In writing, this report, a rigorous research procedure was carried out with a thoughtful selection of literature materials. Dependable literature materials such as journals with reputable authors, reliable texts, and reports were used.

Conceptual Framework

The use of smart mobile devices is becoming progressively prevalent and universal. Consequently, users need the best inventions and innovations that augment the functionality of smartphones and tablets among other mobile devices. Presently, Android is among the most prominently used operating systems in the world. It reaches out to touch peaks of diffusion, in some countries, with a significant percentage of the total smartphone market. Consequently, the Android platform has allowed users to keep in touch with new applications that stood unavailable in the recent past.

Some theories are used in investigating the adoption of innovations in organizational and social settings. The most prolific among the theories is the Rodgers’ Diffusion of Innovation Theory. The theory has four major elements associated with the diffusion of new ideas. They include detailed innovation aspects, communication channels, time and social context. Additionally, Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation Theory gives definitions of crucial terms about innovation and technology while seeking to explain why, how, and at what degree inventions and innovations spread through business and social environment (Sahin 2006).

Notably, Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation Theory puts substantial emphasis on innovation while explaining why some innovations spread faster than others. Relative advantage, compatibility to modern and imminent trends, and perceived complexity of an innovation are some of the aspects that propel adaption and diffusion rate of innovations. Thus, Rodgers’ Diffusion Theory is pertinent in the discussion of Android as an innovation that is disrupting traditional practices while advancing the digital economy. Some of the aspects of the theory were carefully selected to support this report due to their relevance and applicability in business innovation and digital economies dynamism. The most prominent elements of the theory pertinent to this study are discussed below.

Relative advantage of Android

The mobile operating system industry was revolutionized by the inception of Apple iOS and Google Android. The two control a considerable percentage of the global mobile devices market. However, Android has a relative advantage despite its late entry relative to iOS.

First, Android is a more open ecosystem source. Making improvements, adding features and adaptation of Android can be done by anyone. This is unlike most mobile operating systems, which can only be developed from a centralized authorized source.

Second, Apps are relatively cheaper on Android than most mobile operating systems. For instance, Apple devices are priced relatively exorbitantly. Therefore, affordability and use of iOS is hampered by leveraging cheaper Android.

Third, Android is not restrictive in cross-platform interactions. Mobile devices’ users would prefer hustle free cross-platform interactions. With iOS, formal applications followed by rigorous vetting are done before software is absorbed.

Fourth, Google partners with other electronic companies in building devices around its operating system. The collaboration leverages Android users with a wide range of devices. These, among others, leveraging aspects have increasingly enhanced the diffusion of Android in the digital economy globally.

Android compatibility

The rapid diffusion of Android can be linked to its aptitude to be consistent with the existing and emergent trends in mobile devices innovations. With the Android open system, varied devices can use the Android platform and, therefore, many aspects of architecture and compatibility requirements have been optimized. Android open system aims at embracing the widest possible range of mobile devices. Key Android compatible devices include handheld devices, Android television devices, Android watches, and Android automotive implementation.


The ability of Android to fill a niche in the global mobile device market informed the decision-making process explaining why the idea was immensely acceptable. Further, Android attributes have amplified the rate at which it is adapted. Lastly, Android has realized a significantly fast influence on the five categories of social classification as illustrated by the theory.

Findings and Analysis

The shift toward mobile-driven apps and computing is taking place so rapidly and in several ways. For instance, over two billion people now own smartphones, and the number is expected to reach six billion by the year 2020 (Pon 2015). Android, Symbian, Windows, iOS platforms and others have created the value that many users derive from their platforms based on their abilities to gain access to the Internet and use most applications. As billions of consumers continue to gain access to smartphones, the digital economy will continue to thrive and become a critical source of revenue for developers and the global economy.

The smartphone sector is now largely controlled by the Android platform (Spreeuwenberg & Poell 2012). Android platform, as it is today, can be considered as a collection of multiple standardized technologies, individual developers, and even firms coordinated through Google to develop versions that create value to users through economies of scale and scope.

The growth of the Android platform reflects the elements captured in Roger’s Diffusion of Innovation Theory. Through innovation and entrepreneurship, the Android platform has grown specifically in the smartphone sector as most developers and users recognize the core role it plays in the digital economy. One can observe how Google has harnessed the power of developers to launch multiple versions of Android that can now support various makes and models of smartphones. Much of the interest generated by the Android platform can be attributed to specific economic characteristics specifically the availability of externalities or the network effect that emanates from various developers. In this regard, Google has focused on providing Google Play Services (GPS) to encourage open contribution and control the emerging fragmentation.

Developers notice the value of joining the Android contributing network as its usage spread rapidly globally. That is, the more users use the Android app, the more valuable the app becomes because it can support multiple devices, run the most popular Web tools and connect with millions of users due to compatibility. In this case, innovation and entrepreneurship shown in the Android platform have led to a positive reinforcement of network effects in which companies rely on the platform to increase their returns and dominate the market with their products (Pon 2015). Today, the Android platform has created a model that other companies such as Facebook, Dropbox, and Line among others have used to develop more specialized apps through open approaches to innovation.

As the Android platform depicts, the dominance nature of the platform leads to the ‘user lock-in’ and consequently creating a barrier for other apps to thrive. Innovations, communication, time from the rate of adoption perspective, and the social system of Diffusion have led to the spread and development of new ideas to support new versions of Android.

In the open-source, free license environment that Android platform is developed, it would be difficult for any organization to identify the scope of innovations and developments that the new approaches will bring, but it is clear that firms involved with Android platform must review their strategy (Hatt et al. 2014). Today, the Android platform is considered the most successful one, particularly in the smartphone market globally where it accounts for more than half of all the phones sold (Mulligan et al. n.d).

Mobile Platform
Figure 1: Mobile Platform, Source: Hatt et al. (2014)

One can observe that through diffusion, the Android platform has become the largest incumbent, which is now forced to develop but must guard against further fragmentation. As the Android platform continues to grow in both developed and emerging markets globally, specifically in the last two-three years, it presents challenges because of numerous devices by versions currently available for users.

Android devices distribution by version
Figure 2: Android devices distribution by version

Nevertheless, it is imperative to comprehend the Android platform within the context of Google’s approach. Google generally generates more value when several users are on the Internet, as well as data generated by those users. Consequently, Google can grow its search advertising business. Based on this observation, Google has ensured that Android is adopted widely through a free license. As such, it can be widely used by various handset manufacturers globally. Android, therefore, leaves other OEMs such as Apple, Microsoft, to scramble for a small market share. Today, Samsung, the handset maker, has driven the adoption of the Android platform significantly, and it now strives to revamp Android UI.

Although Google still attains its core objective, the company must continuously focus on how to contain the increasing fragmentation of the Android platform. One must, however, recognize that Samsung relies on a ‘certified’ Android platform as opposed to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) version. Users can freely gain access to the AOSP version. On the other hand, device manufacturers must involve Google to get the full functionality of the Android platform, which requires registration for the Android Compatibility Programme (Hatt et al. 2014). A registration would ensure that manufacturers can get other Google services, including Google+, Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Play among others. In addition, manufactures must also meet some hardware requirements and contract conditions. That is, they should not launch another device based on the AOSP version.

On the other hand, some original equipment manufacturers mainly based in China, such as Xiaomi, have been successful using the AOSP version. Xiaomi, for instance, now claims about 2 percent of the global smartphone sales. The company relies on customized user interfaces while riding on Android to develop strong, relatively cheap smartphones for the global market. This is a direct threat to Google. That is, AOSP is growing rapidly while excluding Google’s core services and, therefore, affecting Google’s revenues from mobile advertisement.

The open-source and free license are responsible for fragmentation and multiple versions of Android run by Google at any given moment. It is imperative to recognize that most versions have a short life expectancy of about one to two years. Inconsistency in user experiences could affect the Android platform. Customized versions could be responsible for such inconsistency, but the company might be forced to provide updates for multiple versions to protect its core services delivered through the Android platform.

Google and its competitors must continue to define their strategies for apps for smartphone markets. These platforms are meant to drive digital commerce for developers. As such, Google is striving to develop AOSP to transcend various national borders and gain wider adoption while minimizing barriers. Various stakeholders understand the benefits and relevance of digital economies that enhance inclusion and participation by different segments of society. By opening the Android platform to many developers, Google aims to acquire more loyal users and grow its market share. However, the digital economy driven by various platforms such as Android requires seamless platforms that allow integration and can meet user needs. Consequently, collaborative development processes could deliver interoperability for different platforms and devices. While Android and iOS platforms tend to lock users to specific devices by different manufacturers, the gains may not be long-lasting because interoperability leads to more robust platforms deployed in multiple devices.

In the next few years, several high-level scenarios are possible for the Android platform as a dominant player in the digital economy. First, Android is most likely to grow further, introduce new versions and claim more market share, but with even more fragmentation in versions adopted by various smartphone manufacturers. Second, Google may decide to increase the market share but focus on more consolidated Android platform to counter the threat from AOSP. Finally, it is also possible that the Android platform may lose market share to its competitors such as iOS, Windows, Symbian, Blackberry, and another smartphone OS.

Conclusion and Recommendation

This report presented the Android platform as the most successful platform in the digital economy. By relying on Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovation Theory, the report shows the success of the Android platform as well as potential challenges it may encounter because of fragmentation. With the dominant market share globally, which can be attributed to open and free license approaches adopted by Google, the Android platform continues to enhance the growth of the digital economy in which developers can sell their apps.

Google continues to harness the power of developers spread across the world to revamp its Android platform. Consequently, it has realized unprecedented success since its launch, and Android now commands a significant global market share relative to competitors like iOS, Symbian and Windows among others. Nevertheless, the fragmented nature of the Android platform could also present a threat to Google as it fails to consolidate its revenues from freely exploited versions exploited by firms such as Xiaomi operating in China.

  • It is recommended that Google should strive to grow the market share of the Android platform. This strategy is critical because of the fierce competition it faces from other platforms such as iOS, Windows, and Blackberry among others.
  • The fragmented nature of the Android platform is a source of concern for the company. While it encourages sourcing and contribution, Google must dedicate multiple resources to evaluate various versions and only pick the best.
  • Other firms specifically those operating in China where Google is banned, have been able to exploit the AOSP version to their own advantage. In this context, Xiaomi denies Google’s potential revenues from mobile advertisements. Hence, the Android platform should not be exploited by companies that strive for a global market share.

Reference List

Hatt, T, Lucini, BA., Gardner, C & Pon, B 2014, Analysis: Mobile platform wars, Web.

Lockheimer, H 2015, , Web.

Mulligan, CE, Mortier, R, Houghton, R, Rahemtulla, H, Flintham, M & Nord, C n.d, , Web.

Pon, B 2015, , Web.

Sahin, I 2006, ‘Detailed Review of Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations Theory and Educational Technology-related Studies Based on Rogers’, The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, vol. 5, no. 2, pp. 14-23.

Spreeuwenberg, K & Poell, T 2012, ‘Android and the political economy of the mobile Internet: A renewal of open source critique’, First Monday, vol. 17, no. 7, Web.

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