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Android: It's a Guy Thing


Why the mobile platform skews male almost three to one.

According to AdMob's recent Mobile Metrics Report, Google's (GOOG) mobile platform Android has almost as much testosterone behind it as a mixed martial arts bout. Roughly 73% of Android users are male -- a statistic in stark contrast with the gender neutral numbers for the iPhone (AAPL) and Palm Pre (PALM). Their male constituencies stand at 57% and 58%, respectively. Data wasn't given for the Windows Mobile (MSFT) platform, though the future adoption of Windows Phone 7 between genders ought to be interesting.

The high male percentage comes as a surprise because the Android OS isn't limited to one device. HTC is behind the Dream and Google Nexus models -- both currently on T-Mobile (DT) -- Motorola (MOT) manufactures the popular Droid, its international cousin Milestone, and the upcoming Devour -- all carried by Verizon (VZ). And Samsung makes the Galaxy and Moment models which run on Sprint (S). With others on the side and more on the way -- one notably from Sony Ericsson (SNE) -- Android isn't exactly suffering under a niche product line.

So why have men flooded the Android market at a rate of almost three to one?

Mainly marketing.

When the Motorola Droid debuted in November, it had an ad campaign many would easily describe as masculine -- and some would find a tad misogynist. Keeping in line with Verizon's ads against AT&T (T), one commercial for the Droid went straight for the iPhone's shiny jugular and defiled anything construed as "cutesy" or "feminine." Porcelain lambs are crushed in a vice. Tiaras and beauty queens are decried. Mannequins bedecked in preppy -- or metrosexual -- outfits are splattered by muck-filled water balloons. Meanwhile, robots tearing apart sheet metal, racehorses and SCUD missiles flying across the screen, table saws ripping through fruit, even a subtle nod to graffiti artist Banksy all accompany the voiceover: "It's not a princess. It's a robot. A phone that trades hair-do for can-do."

In other words, "This is a man's phone, ladies."

It apparently worked, as the Motorola Droid's sales records have made it the most popular Android device by far -- even outselling Google's hugely hyped Nexus. So goes the Droid, so goes Android.

But a Y-chromosome marketing style isn't the only thing Android devices have to contend with. The open-source platform has been given an inherent nerdiness conducive to a male-skewed user base. Of course, there are women who would find that more appealing than Apple's walled garden approach, but coupled with the ad and the Droid's "industrial" design, it's difficult to believe that's how Motorola was playing its cards.

Although the Droid's sales are admirable, Motorola and Android need to make a case for a female user base if they ever want to even out those percentages.

Maybe an ad that doesn't crush a porcelain lamb.
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