Will Android appeal to generation Z and beyond?

By: Ankush Tiwari, MD-India & SVP-Engineering, Mobiliya Technologies

According to a study conducted by Pew Research Centre, 91% of teenagers in the US go online from a mobile device at some point of time. In addition, 24% of the teenagers say that they are “constantly online”. The survey covered Generation Z or youngsters aged between 13 and 17 years. This heralds the transition from a “mobile-driven” to “mobile-only” generation leading to a phenomenal shift in the way users use and interact with mobile devices. Countries like India are also witnessing this transition. The recent move by popular eCommerce brand Myntra to operate on an app-only basis is an apt example. Operating systems like Android, which is the reigning platform among the low-end consumer mobile devices used by the teenage, new or first-time smartphone owners, must brace themselves for this shift. There is little doubt that Android will need to go beyond the current set of features, functionalities and offerings to truly keep its appeal constant.

Personalised Content

In the big fight between Android and its closest competitor iOS, while iOS has scored over in the enterprise markets with its security and enterprise offerings, the open source Android has gained a mass base mainly due to the free availability of diverse apps and personalised theming. However, to cater to the demands of a “mobile-only” generation, Android devices will need to be smarter and create a distinct value for Gen-Y and Gen-Z. Delivering personalised content holds the key and will be the way forward for retaining young customers. These are users who would completely rely on mobile devices to consume all forms of content – browse information, check news, watch videos and even view their favourite movies and TV shows. Thus, Android devices must be equipped with robust content services that allow users to view, browse and share on-demand multi-channel content from a single platform. While this would help in establishing a great post-sale revenue model for device manufacturers, for the consumers this would be a major incentive for continuing with Android-powered content-rich devices.

Differentiated Experience

With the price sensitive mobile market growing at a rapid rate, mobile device manufacturers are yet to address the elephant in the room. The youth today demands a differentiated experience on the mobile device. They look for software differentiation in these devices instead of hardware. Case in example being the Android One program. 3 ODMs launched the same phone with almost exact hardware at a price difference of INR 100-150 from each other. There was zero software differentiation in these devices as all carried the vanilla android OS. It has become increasingly important for device manufacturers to differentiate their devices & launch their own services to create user stickiness.

The solution for this lies in the adoption of Custom ROMs that allow ODMs and OEMs to infuse diverse consumer-centric offerings and features. From personalized theming engines to remote management and setup capabilities, custom ROMs are the way forward for disruptive and differentiated mobile experience.

Android for Education

The education landscape is already undergoing a radical transformation, thanks to teachers, students and educational institutes adopting modern and digital forms of learning. Thus, the foundation is set for a scenario wherein educational apps and services would be integral to Android devices. The learning pedagogy which was till now focused on information dissemination will change to a more personalised and interactive format. Students will use devices packaged with systems that allow access to all educational content and resources, tests, assignments and time-tables. Students will prefer devices that allow them to learn at their own pace, adopt learning methods that suit them best and access specific content that addresses their niche learning needs.

Custom ROMs would further add an edge to these educational devices by powering them with enhanced security and manageability features. They will enable teachers to remotely access, monitor and manage student devices thereby paving the way to a more interactive and personalised learning format.

In addition, the mobile learning ecosystem must comprise of educational apps that help them research and prepare for topics even before they attend classes.

Power Wearables

Wearable technology is set to gain significance and become more widely used from here on. Wearables, either tethered to a smartphone or independent, may go on to be an integral part of regular attire. Android-powered wearable devices would certainly assume significance to the extent of even replacing smartphones. Devices like smart glasses or smartwatches that work on voice commands and display all information right in front of the eyes would be the next thing on the radar for most teenagers. Wearables perfectly fit youngsters’ need to be “always online” and even add to the “cool quotient” and “fashion statement” that drives this segment.

Manage Everyday Tasks

While the millennials were dubbed as the digital generation that witnessed the rise of the mobile revolution, the next gen is set to live in the world powered by “connected devices”. The Internet of things would mean that devices regularly interact with users to manage everyday tasks. From managing kitchen appliances, door locks and home lighting, mobile devices would be the primary tool for the next gen. This is one significant way in which Android-powered devices would be primarily used. Google’s recent acquisition of the connected home technology brand NEST just proves this.


The introduction of the new low cost Android tablets has just played catalyst to the already surging mobile revolution. Android devices starting at as low as $40 mean that they are cheaper than the regular textbooks. This has lured school and college students especially during times that have witnessed global economic slowdown, recession and rising debts. This is a trend that is set to continue. Low-cost tablets supporting digital classrooms and resources would be the perfect ensemble for the cost conscious youth segment.

Also, the trend would revolve around “pay less, get more” model. Between similar priced devices, the device that offers maximum features would definitely enjoy a higher patronage.

Generation Z has grown up amidst the rise of some of the most breakthrough technologies and innovations. Hence, this is a generation that is truly smarter, more connected and globally aware. Thus there is no doubt that they would need devices and solutions that would add value, prepare them for future challenges and solve real world problems.

3 responses to “Will Android appeal to generation Z and beyond?”

  1. Amit Sharma says:

    Ankush – Interesting perspective and well written article.
    I second you that Gen Z/ Millennials are all for differentiated experience and have hugely adopted custom ROMs.
    There is a still a divide in the market for ‘Mass’ which is largely associated with android (& it’s flavours) and ‘Class’ with iOS which is also being narrowed down with Google controlling device manufacturers and Xiaomi/ Micromax of the east closely matching apple specs.
    The future lies in software differentiation as you rightly pointed out – even more so important with wearables which is hardware light. So here is my wish list in addition to what you already stated:
    1. Context-Aware Services: With Google having all of their apps on cloud can provide context aware cloud services with andorid platform. Google now on tap shown in Google I/O is best example of where the future is. Top it up with artificial intelligence would give us a perfect recipe for Millennials attraction.
    2. Virtual/ Augmented Reality: With wearable adoption, the screen real estate isn’t suitable for mass operations. Add the cost imperative, it becomes even more important to provide augmented reality to allow users to use their devices with optical projection and sensors. What best serves millennials than gaming and so does Virtual reality to attract them to android. Project Tango has already proved its worth and would pave way for it to be commercially available.
    3. Power Management: With “Mobile-only”, “always-online” Gen Z, battery power management is a major attraction (I still remember good old Nokia days). Adjacent area is to really bring wireless charging to mainstream play and would take care of battery time concerns.
    4. Security Stamp: with millennials, gadgets are very personal in nature and Google have to work hard to protect their personal digital assets. Android really have to become synonymous to security the way people perceive Apple devices today.
    5. App-less environment: With more than million apps available in app stores, we are living in ‘App for Everything’ world today. Best way to attract millennials is to give them a platform where they can be less burdened with number of apps but can get them value of those apps by power of the platform somehow.
    6. Gesture Technology: I believe gesture tech. would provide us next wave of revolution after touch and would allow digital life to assimilate with our real life. With indian start-ups such as FIN and NIMBLE tasting success in this area, Google also got a thumbs up for their project Soli.

    Hopefully together we can create a better world for our future generations!

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  3. Andy says:

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