With the rapid growth of Android in the US market last year, and the Android Nexus One being announced today some people are saying Android will become the top smartphone platform.
I’m not disagreeing with them, but let’s pause for a moment and look outside the US and Europe at how successful Android has been so far in Asia.
Sure anyone can import an unlocked GSM Android mobile and put their Sim card in it, but the majority of customers buy their phone from a mobile carrier or an electronics store.
For the purposes of this article I looked at the availability of Android devices from retail or carriers in different parts of Asia (not market share).
(Green is good availability, Blue is limited availability, Red is little or no availability.)
China (including Hong Kong):
Android mobiles from HTC and recently Dell are available in both mainland China and Hong Kong. Thus this region gets a Green color.
The chinese mobile companies making copies of popular western company designs (Apple, Nokia, Sony Ericsson, etc.) have gotten faster and better at making clone hardware, but they still seem to favor using Windows Mobile as their OS. It would be interesting what might happen if the clone companies become more accustomed to Android, that is free to use. If they started putting Android, which is arguably a better platform, on the cloned hardware they could become popular mobile manufacturers.
Android mobiles are available from multiple carriers (Starhub and Singtel) in Singapore.
Android mobiles are not currently available from a carrier in Malaysia.
Thanks to a couple readers posting in the comments about mobile carrier Celcom offering Android mobiles in Malaysia. However owners of Android devices bought in Malaysia are unhappy due to Android Marketplace being removed from the handsets.
Only one HTC Android mobile, the HTC Magic, is available from Docomo in Japan. Docomo started offering it to try and stop the loss of customers to rival Softbank, that has iPhone exclusivity. A friend that works at HTC Japan hinted to me there likely wouldn’t be any further Android devices for a while, at least from HTC.
To bring the status up to Green at least one other Android mobile should be available preferably on another carrier. Maybe Motorola could introduce it’s Milestone or other manufacturer could negotiate with Softbank or Docomo.
In general a big problem with the Japanese mobile industry is that it’s controlled by the carriers. The carriers specify what features, software, and design they want in the mobile and the manufactures makes it for them. With the iPhone’s success in Japan this is slowly changing however. Stefan Constantinescu described the problems facing the Japanese mobile industry in detail on IntoMobile, though I disagree with his preference for clamshell flip phones.
Taiwan is the home country of HTC, Google’s closest mobile hardware partner. Thus pretty much every Android mobile from HTC is available in Taiwan.
Korea is home to Samsung and LG. These two companies tend to be platform agnostic, using any mobile OS they feel is appropriate for their device. This leads Samsung and LG to offer mobiles with a variety of platforms including: Windows Mobile, Samsung/LG specific mobile Linux, Symbian, and Android. Thus both Samsung and LG have made Android mobiles which are available in South Korea.
Android Mobiles are available from Vodafone and Bharti Airtel in India. However Android struggles in India due to it’s price and lack of 3G networks to access Google’s services.
In conclusion if you’re an Android fan, Malaysia is not a good place to live. Though in theory you could walk or drive across the bridge from Malaysia to Singapore and buy yourself an Android mobile from Singapore, then head back to Malaysia. :)