iPhone Making the World Safe for Android?

We and everyone else have written fairly exhaustively about the iPhone and its impact on the competitive dynamics of the market. However, on the cusp of MacWorld, three articles appeared today that cover Google, the iPhone or both.

Miguel Helft at the NY Times discusses how Google saw a surge of traffic on Christmas (presumably after a bunch of activations) and how the iPhone drives mobile traffic to Google at levels second only to Symbian phones. As Helft points out that's somewhat remarkable, given the iPhone's recency and tiny market share compared with Symbian.

The topical "hook" for the article is a suite of Google services optimized for the iPhone (Gmail, Calendar, Reader, iGoogle, etc.). A new version of this suite (dubbed "Grand Prix") will apparently be released today. Elinor Mills at CNet writes similarly about the new release of these mobile apps and suggests that Google Gears (the ability to work on applications when not connected to the Internet) is coming to the iPhone at some point in the near term.

And USAToday covers a small company in San Ramon, CA, A La Mobile, which has reportedly developed a suite of apps for the Android platform. The article goes on to confirm (via Google's Andy Rubin) that an Android phone will be out by Q2. (Dan wrote about an Android prototype sighting at CES.)

Even though Android was in the works before the launch of the iPhone there's a way in which they're "connected at the hip" or Android is the direct beneficiary of the iPhone in a certain way. There might not have been as much carrier and OEM interest in Android had their not been an iPhone to show the benefits of a better mobile user experience. Indeed, as the NY Times article makes clear, a better user experience results in more usage and traffic and, ultimately, monetization -- this is pretty much our mantra at LocalMobileSearch.

Google is seeking to take that learning and expand it beyond a single, proprietary device to the entire industry and hopes that the OHA and Android will be the vehicle to do so. The disruption and fear that the iPhone has caused arguably has driven many to embrace Google's initiative, which might not have otherwise.