AndroidLand: Telstra Stab At Apple Empire?

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Look Out iPhone! Androidland Invades OZ: Melbourne’s new Androidland could be a sign Apple may about lose touch with consumers.
Telstra, who unveiled the Androidland store on Friday last, the first dedicated Android store in the world complete with dedicated Green Men to explain the features of Google’s Android OS for smartphones and tablets, and interactive technology to lure consumers into the zany world of the OS.

‘Androidland’ also appears to mark a major move towards the Google platform and is a bullet straight into Apple’s retail heart by Australia’s biggest telco, marking Android’s answer to the Apple Store.

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The store is the result of a collaboration between Android carriers Samsung, HTC, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and LG and will showcase every device from a Galaxy S II, HTC Rhyme to a Moto Xoom tablet.

Located in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD, the Google store is like an Android circus complete with an interactive spaceship zone that allows visitors to pilot the Google Earth app on the giant screen, and fly across to play Angry Birds on a big interactive screen and create an Android avatar.

Android gurus are also at hand to help users set up Google accounts, customise device homescreens and also provide advice on the best Android Market apps, and you can even flick through a virtual library of Google Books and fiddle with the devices a la Apple Store.

Androidland is a temporary installation, for now, but could be looking to go national if the Melbourne store drums up enough footfall, says Telstra.

The fact that this is a world first also marks the importance of the Australian smartphone market, which has one of the highest penetration of high end mobiles in the world.

By Christmas, almost 50% of all Aussies will own a smartphone, according to Google.

 

Telstra say the move was purely down to customer demand and to answer the question, “what is Android?” and possibly give the Green Men the cult following enjoyed by its rival, Apple.

“Over the past 12 months we’ve seen a huge growth in the number of customers coming in-store and asking us about Android phones and tablets,” said Warwick Bray, Executive Director, Telstra Mobile.

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Informing (and pushing) the Android brand is also crucial: “With Androidland we wanted to create a retail environment like no other that helps us to answer customer questions in a fun, interactive way,” he added. 

Telstra will use customer feedback to test whether similar installations are introduced to other stores across Australia.

“Australians have gone crazy for smartphones over the last year, and we estimate that each month, hundreds of thousands of Australians buy a smartphone,” said John Lagerling, Director, Android Global Partnership. 

The Android retail phonomena, marks a major move to the Green Men platform by Telstra in order gain far better margins compared to rivals, believes Ovum Senior Analyst, Nicole McCormick.

One can only presume is a backlash to Apple’s well documented margins squeeze.

 

“Telstra is pushing the Android device platform very heavily.  This push towards Android makes sense as Telstra can derive better margins.  Androidland is a part of that growing strategy,” says McCormick. 

Apple is well known for squeezing retailers on margins and making heavy demands on carrier. in fact, Steve Jobs even once had a brainwave to develop its own communicaiton system on WiFi, to bypass carriers completely.

Already in Sydney, a ‘pop up’ Samsung store showcasing the Galaxy S II and its new music service emerged on George St in October this year, just a few doors down from the Apple Store, and was so successful, Samsung were said to be mulling over making the store a permanent fixture, although decided against it.

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