What Android’s Rise Means to Hospitality

It goes without saying that when the iPhone was released, it quickly captured the attention of many smartphone users and developers due to its multi-touch interface, design and its bounty of apps. However, new research predicts that the size of the iPhone’s base of loyal customers may be quickly changing due to Android’s surge in popularity.

eMarketer (www.emarketer.com) estimates that after exploding from just 6% of the U.S. smartphone market in 2009 to 24% in 2010, Android will continue to gain share through 2012, when 31% of all smartphone users will own a device running the Google OS.

“The open-source Android OS requires no licensing fee and allows handset manufacturers and wireless carriers considerable latitude to customize the user interface according to their desired specifications,” says Noah Elkin, eMarketer principal analyst and author of a forthcoming report on mobile devices. “With a growing roster of manufacturer and carrier partners in every major market and market segment, scale for Android is coming quickly in terms of device, market share, apps and ad revenues.”

These numbers represent a significant opportunity for hospitality operators’ mobile efforts. With so many operators and vendors focused on releasing applications designed for the iPhone, this data suggests that equal consideration for developing Android-specific applications should be given. There are already a number of operators who are following this line of thinking. Best Western (www.bestwestern.com), for instance, offers an Android version of its “Best Western to Go” application. And last summer, InterContinental Hotels Group (www.ichotelsgroup.com) launched the Priority Club Rewards app for Android.

“Our mobile capabilities are an important part of our powerful system that brings guests into IHG hotels, which is a key driver for our owners. With the launch of our app for the Android, we are continuing to build on the success of our global strategy of optimized mobile websites and our iPhone app,” says Michael Menis, vice president, global interactive marketing, IHG.
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