This past week Google unveiled its long-awaited Android 4.4 (KitKat) operating system, which comes initially on the shiny new Nexus 5 — the second straight handset that has been manufactured by LG. But Google made a move with this new mobile operating system that went largely unnoticed in all of the pomp and circumstance of the big roll out. The move was carried out in relative anonymity.
Google went after a market that Windows Phone has been striving to capture, and with Mozilla’s up and coming Firefox OS, Google also hopes to own the lower end of the smartphone market. Meaning first time smartphone buyers, my parents, or customers like them.
“Android 4.4 is designed to run fast, smooth, and responsively on a much broader range of devices than ever before – including on millions of entry-level devices around the world that have as little as 512MB RAM,” Google stated.
With that casual statement, the search giant may have just launched a war in the smartphone market. With the rapid demise of Blackberry, the race has become a three ring circus — quite literally, with iPhone, Android and Windows Phone, though the latter still has considerable ground to make up. Firefox OS, which aims squarely at this market, is barely out of the gate.
Meanwhile, Google goes on to explain “KitKat streamlines every major component to reduce memory use and introduces new APIs and tools to help you create innovative, responsive, memory-efficient application. OEMs building the next generation of Android devices can take advantage of targeted recommendations and options to run Android 4.4 efficiently, even on low-memory devices.”
Ouch. It seems Microsoft has a fight on its hands, and likely one it had not anticipated. But Nokia has done an admirable job already in making a mark here – the Lumia 520 can be had for less than $100 off contract, so the battle is on. But who will come out on top?