Google Aligns Itself with Losers Revisited

by Matt Klassen on September 15, 2011

It was just over a year ago that I collaboratively wrote a controversial piece titled, “Google Aligns Itself with Losers: Why Android Will Never Beat Apple.” The slightly overstated point of the article was simple, Google has built its Android empire on selling its free open source mobile OS to mid-range companies like HTC, Samsung, and Motorola, companies who on their own didn’t stand a chance against the dominance of the iPhone.

The problem with this strategy is the same today as it was then; the real money in the mobile market is having an in-house operating system, meaning that the loyalty of these Android licensees will only last until such OS alternatives become viable options.

Now it truly looks like the time is ripe for these so-called mobile losers to rise up and take control of their own OS destinies. Not only is the once popular webOS looking for a home—with both Android mainstays HTC and Samsung rumoured to be interested—but Apple, once the thorn in the side of mid-range mobile companies, is undergoing a leadership change that will no doubt at least partially sap it’s momentum; add to that Google’s acquisition of Motorola and the future suddenly becomes a little more uncertain for the world’s most popular mobile operating system.

The most recent news on the mobile OS front is that popular Android licensee HTC, a company that has produced some of the best selling Android devices, is interested in acquiring HP’s practically defunct webOS platform. The report stems from comments that company chairwoman Cher Wang made recently, hinting that HTC has been discussing the viability of acquiring its own operating system.

While such rumours were floated several weeks back regarding Samsung—rumours that Samsung has since denied—the fact that these companies continue to kick the tires of HP’s webOS seems to give credence to the notion that they know where the real money is to be made, and they know that it’s not with Android.

As I wrote a year ago, “If Android does provide the sales boost these midrange companies are looking for, it will too be just a matter of time before these companies reinvest in their own mobile operating systems, as clearly that’s where the money is.

Unlike Apple—and now to a lesser extent RIM—manufacturers of Android devices make money selling several Android-based devices, pouring relatively few resources into these devices to try and appeal to a wider market. The result, of course, is a market full of Android phones, with none of them achieving the same success or popularity of either the iPhone or the Blackberry

Now what does this all mean? For starters, Android is a lifeline, a saviour of sorts for these struggling midrange companies that allows them to make a profit in an increasingly competitive mobile market. Of course once saved, these companies will undoubtedly look at how to reinvest their new found profits in their own businesses, which for many will mean an in-house mobile OS. I’m sure this still sounds as far-fetched to some as it did a year ago, but truth be told it looks like even Google can see the writing on the wall, acquiring Motorola as its face, of sorts, in the mobile device market—a market that Google has little footprint in currently.

So how will Android maintain its popularity with its key partners looking for Android alternatives? Good question, as I said before, if I had the answer I’d probably be working for Google.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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{ 1 comment }

Maarten September 19, 2011 at 9:43 am

And that is exactly why HTC is going to buy WebOS or built one of its own, just like Samsung has Bada (and working on it!). You take off with Android until you reach mass appeal, but you don’t keep on flying with it (and its increasing malware 🙂 )

Good blogs btw, keep up the good work!

Cheers from the Netherlands.

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