The Most Important Names in Android (Part 2)

December 22, 2009 | by Andrew Kameka

Google Android

The Most Important Names in Android (Part 2)

This article is the second in a series of two parts. Be sure to read the first half of the list to see the 10 Most Important Names in Android.

In light of Android’s explosion, decided to compile a list of the 10 Most Important Names in Android. We anticipate disagreement, but it’s difficult to deny that the people and companies profiled below are noteworthy names. They may not be the most famous, but you can bet that they rank among the most influential and interesting characters in this play called Android.

5. T-Mobile

t-mobileT-Mobile gambled on Android. Sure, being the first carrier to release a product tied to one of the biggest brands in the world is arguably a safe bet, but someone had to do it. And while several carriers are now interested in delivering Android phones, there was a several-month-long period in which many lacked the courage to do what T-Mobile did. AT&T dismissed the OS, Sprint diminished its value, and Verizon remained silent for months. In the U.S., Germany, and UK, T-Mobile spoke loud and clear in favor of Android.

T-Mobile is still a leading name in Android and offers more phones running the OS than any other carrier (five – Behold II, Cliq, G1, myTouch, and Hero in UK). In the coming months, T-Mobile will enhance the Android experience by performing major upgrades to its network, expanding its reach in the United States. Even if you’re a subscriber of Sprint, Verizon, Vodafone, or Orange, you have to admit that T-Mobile led the charge in Android adoption.

4. Drew Bamford (HTC)

drewbamfordAwkward and un-pretty, the HTC Dream was universally panned for its aesthetics. Under the leadership of Drew Bamford, director of user experience, HTC has since beautified the physical nature of its phones and the show-stealing “Sense” software that powers them. Bamford coordinates with several types of designers to make an HTC phone everything users will want. Though the months-long wait for updates is disappointing, Sense users have to admit that the look and “feel” of the UI is considerably more desirable than stock Android. Bamford is tasked with delivering a product compelling enough to warrant such patience and loyalty to the HTC brand.

HTC already accounts for 65 percent of Android device web traffic, largely because of its early commitment and innovation. As a leader at the premiere company in Android device-making, Drew Bamford’s fingerprints will definitely be present on the Android experience in 2010.

3. Andy Rubin (Google)

andyrubinLong before most people had any clue about Android, there was Andy Rubin. During a meeting held in 2005, Rubin asked Google co-founder Larry Page to endorse his upcoming open-source phone system. Google instead acquired Android and brought Rubin on to oversee its development. Rubin has been described as an imaginative person who does things “for the sake of doing it and because it’s cool, and as a result there’s a childlike innocence about it.” Android is in need of such a person to spearhead the continued enhancement of the platform. Innovations from developers of other operating systems – and within the OHA –  require that the stock version of Android be just as attractive and convenient as the competition. Andy Rubin’s vision will play an important role in Android’s evolution, making him an important cog in the machine.

2. Andy (Bloggers, Devs, and Consumers)

andyI’m not vein enough to say that I’m the most important person in Android, but I am the most important person in Android. Confused? You shouldn’t be, because you’re also the most important person. We all are.

Android blogs break the news, highlight the apps, and do our best to keep you aware. Not to mention that we’re often called upon by developers to give pre-launch feedback. And if you’re a dev, you’re an Andy. Without your apps, there’d be no reason to keep an Android phone. Meanwhile, the people who purchase phones and apps determine who is successful and who flops.

We’re all Andy because our interaction is what keeps Android going. Consumers are just as important as the people who write articles and the developers who inspire them. Bloggers, devs, and users power an ecosystem that determines how successful Android can be. It doesn’t get much important than that; unless of course you are…

1. Google

googleplexGoogle is the most obvious selection, the most authoritative voice, and the most influential player in Android. Yes, the Open Handset Alliance has many members, but none wields as much sway as Google. They design the firmware that powers it, they produce most of the “wow” factor apps, and any move they make is simultaneously scrutinized, decried, and praised. Is anyone surprised to see them at this position? Look at the hysteria caused by the “Google Phone” rumors and tell me a sneeze at the Googleplex won’t make the world reach for a tissue. As Google goes, so goes Android. The men and women of Mountain View are poised to shake-up the Android atmosphere in some fashion; I can’t wait to see how they do it.