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Android?s latest developments offer glimpse of mobile marketing?s future

As Google extends its Android mobile operating system into new channels, marketers are getting a glimpse of what the future could look like in an Android-dominated world.

The unveiling of Android L, the platform?s first major upgrade since the release of KitKat 4.4 last year, set the stage for a study that showed that Android is inching closer to rival Apple?s iOS as a revenue generator, snatching the top spot in second-quarter mobile ad traffic. Google topped that at its recent developers? conference by unveiling Android Auto, Android TV and Android Wear.

?Google has decisively won the mobile ecosystem war in terms of volume and reach, through Android,? said Richard Guppy, executive director of Boston-based Strategy Analytics? Strategic Competitor Intelligence program.

?Now, Google is preparing to extend that reach into new channels to market such as the car, the smartwatch with its health and fitness apps among others, the TV through Android TV, and the smart home through its Nest acquisition and other initiatives.

?Google just acquired Songza for its context-aware capabilities - it offers music playlists tailored to where and when you use them - and Songza?s CEO summed it up well: ?The Internet used to be about people finding things, now it?s about things finding people?.  When you put together the new channels to market plus the smarts that Google is assembling, you have a whole new digital marketing era; you could call it Web 3.0.?

Unveiling Lollipop
About 1 billion activated devices globally use Android. The platform also 
has the largest installed base of any mobile OS and as of 2013, sold more than Windows, iOS, and Mac OS devices combined. The Google Play store has had over 1 million Android apps published, and over 50 billion apps downloaded. With its open-source platform, a majority of mobile developers develop for Android.

The announcement of Google?s latest update for Android, which will be released in the fall and is called Android L or Lollipop, contains a number of improvements that are sure to reinforce Android?s edge over iOS.

Observers say the update contains enhanced notifications, a new lockscreen, more multitasking features, a new notification bar, better battery life and faster performance.

Way of life
Notwithstanding Apple?s reputation as an innovation driver in the United States, Android has become a way of life for many mobile users. A recent Strategy Analytics study showed that U.S. Android users were most engaged during evening with a 39 percent share of daily activity.

The research firm?s AppOptix platform showed U.S. Android smartphone users spent the bulk of their on-device use between 5 pm and midnight. The analysis was based on more than 1 million individual application sessions on more than 1,500 Android smartphone users in the U.S. during the first half of the year.

Android Auto demonstration. 

Android also has inched closer to iOS as a revenue generator, taking the no. 1 spot in second-quarter mobile ad traffic, capturing nearly 50 percent of impressions, up from 42.8 percent in the prior quarter, according to an Opera MediaWorks report.

?Google is one of the few truly disruptive companies operating at scale in the modern information and IT world ? it is not afraid to break with tradition, in fact it thrives on it,? Mr. Guppy said. ?As Google grows its channels to market wider and deeper, it will shift value around the marketing value chain, so that more of that value transfers to online and to mobile and to the digital home.

?For mobile marketers there will be not only a growing opportunity in what they can do on mobile, but what they can do in the home, the car, and on the body, in a joined up way.?

Converging browsers
One important mobile-marketing development seen is the continuing convergence of the Android and Chrome OS and browsers, so that what one does on his Android smartphone will increasingly transfer to his Chromebook. 

?Mobile marketers will therefore need to consider how to address their audiences for both touchscreen and keyboard devices, as well as through Android TV and other platforms,? Mr. Guppy said. ?The development of Android Runtime (ART) and the Material Design user interface platform with its Polymer web design kit, will all help to make the Android-Chrome user experience more unified, consistent, and available on other browsers. 

?In other words, the mobile marketing opportunity of Android has only just begun.?

Final Take

Michael Barris is staff reporter with Mobile Marketer, New York.