Google's Android operating system is going from strength to strength at the moment. Having initially been seen as a platform of interest mainly to geeks, Android now occupies around a third of smartphone market share. Android's growth is partly down to the openness of the platform, which is available on phones across the market range and from various hardware manufacturers, making it accessible to a more diverse range of users than iPhone. Apps available through the Android Market are also subject to very little control, which produces a great deal of variety and flexibility but naturally results in a higher proportion of poor quality applications in circulation. Google's approach is the opposite of Apple - which retains significant control over its mobile phone operating system. Google's initial idea was to make a new phone operating system which would be open and free. Their hope was that this would encourage innovative development of both phones and applications. Google has invested in Android because it expected that Web searches would increasingly happen on mobiles, and it wanted to be able to advertise to mobile users.
The iPhone was of course in a dominant position as the advance of the smartphone took shape, and the platform is still in a very powerful place. Although business users naturally tended toward Blackberry in the past, both iPhone and Android have continued to make considerable headway for enterprise as well as consumer use, while Blackberry has started catering more to the consumer user as well. The result is that all three of the major smartphone platforms are now occupying some of the same space.
The iPhone offers support for external business utilities such as Microsoft Exchange and, unlike Android, iPhone apps are subject to serious vetting before users can deploy them. The natural downside to this increased level of control over the platform as a whole is a lack of flexibility, but for business applications the plus side is a very high guarantee of quality and reliability for the end user - and ultimately for any business processes being implemented through the technology. With the hugely popular visual designs and interaction models the brand is famous for, the iPhone is certainly an attractive platform for commercial applications. Apple have been responsible for developing innovative features whose success has prompted other platforms to emulate them, such as multi-touch interaction.