From now until the end of the year, 250 million more Google (GOOGL 1.77%) Android devices will come online, bringing Android's total army to 1 billion strong. According to Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, low-cost devices will help drive Android's total reach to 2 billion active devices in the coming years. In other words, most people's first encounter with a smartphone will be an Android device.
This is both a blessing and a curse for Google, which founded Android on a platform of openness. In one respect, it has allowed Google to command elements of the mobile experience, which should translate into more lucrative search queries for Google. But on the other hand, Android's openness puts Google at risk of other businesses putting their best interests ahead of Google's.
I can say for certain that Android's approach has created developer attraction that differs in scale than what Apple (AAPL 2.54%) can offer. By and large, Apple developers make money off of how many people download their application. Google, on the other hand, gives developers an opportunity to modify and own more of the mobile experience on a much higher level, which is a far more powerful preposition.
Although Apple may command about 73% of industry's operating profits, Android's openness invites the possibility of more innovation to the smartphone experience since than what Apple could ever offer. To really do Android some justice, it should never be compared to Apple on a sheer monetary basis. There are far more business opportunities to consider for an Android developer, which are inherently more difficult to measure.
Facebook (FB 1.29%) Home is a testament not only to Facebook's interest in owning more of the mobile experience, but also confirmation that Android is a more innovative smartphone platform than Apple iOS. Eric Schmidt was recently quoted that he thinks what Facebook and Amazon has done to the Android experience as "fantastic," because it shows how open Android really is. The fact that Google allows major competitive threats to piggyback off of Android's 70.1% market share is nothing short of amazing.
Android's openness may in fact undermine Google's built-in moneymakers, but it's never going to stop a user from opening up a browser and going to Google.com.