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Decoding Android's Victory: Google's Competitive Intelligence Journey

The smartphone market is one of the most competitive markets in the world. In 2023, Android accounted for over 70% of the global smartphone market share, making it the dominant mobile operating system. This success is due in large part to Google's efficient use of competitive intelligence (CI).

This article will present how an efficient CI can lead to market dominance. We will discuss how Google used CI to identify and understand the strengths and weaknesses of its competitors and how it used this information to position Android as a differentiated product. We will also discuss the importance of building partnerships with key stakeholders and how Google used CI to adapt its strategy to changing market conditions.


In 2005, the smartphone market was dominated by two major players: Apple and Microsoft. Google, which had been largely absent from the smartphone market, saw an opportunity to enter the market and challenge the incumbents.

Problem Identification

Google faced several challenges in entering the smartphone market. First, Apple and Microsoft had already established strong brands and loyal customer bases. Second, the smartphone market was rapidly evolving, and Google needed to develop a mobile operating system that could keep pace with the latest trends. Third, Google needed to find a way to differentiate its mobile operating system from the competition.

Competitive Intelligence Gathering

To address these challenges, Google conducted extensive competitive intelligence research. Google's CI team implemented more than just secondary research like monitoring product releases and identifying patent filings, they also interviewed industry experts, ran product intelligence analysis, and conducted customer surveys.

Identification of Android Inc.

Through its competitive intelligence research, Google learned about Android Inc., a small startup that was developing a mobile operating system. Android Inc.'s operating system was based on Linux, an open-source operating system. Product intelligence analysis indicated that Android Inc.'s operating system is more customizable and affordable than the operating systems offered by Apple and Microsoft.

Competitor Analysis and Strategic Positioning

Google's CI team analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of Android Inc.'s operating system. The team also analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of Apple's iOS and Microsoft's Windows Phones. Based on this analysis, Google concluded that Android Inc.'s operating system had the potential to be a major player in the smartphone market.

Product Development and Partnerships

Google acquired Android Inc. in 2005. Google then leveraged its competitive intelligence to guide the development of the Android operating system. Google made the strategic decision to position Android as an open-source platform. This decision allowed Google to attract a large community of developers who contributed to the development of the Android operating system. Google also partnered with smartphone manufacturers to ensure that Android would be available on a wide range of devices.

Market Dominance and Success

Since its launch, Android has become the dominant mobile operating system globally. In 2023, Android accounted for over 70% of the global smartphone market share (source: Counterpoint Research). Android's success is due to some factors, including its availability across a wide range of devices, its customizable nature, and its open-source development model.


Google's acquisition of Android and its efficient use of competitive intelligence is a perfect example of how CI can be used to gain a strategic advantage in a competitive market. This case study provides valuable insights for businesses that are looking to enter new markets or expand their presence in existing markets.


This article is part of the larger series "The Game Changers," which delves into a collection of analytical pieces that explore the victories achieved through adept competitive strategies. The series aims to uncover the intricacies of these strategic triumphs and their influential role in shaping competitive outcomes.

Additional articles in the series:


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