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Did Google Arm Its Own Enemies With Android?

James Allworth, a Fellow at the Forum for Growth and Innovation at Harvard Business School writes:

Baidu,… has taken an even bolder approach. It’s reportedly in negotiations with a number of smartphone manufacturers to remove all references to Google, and replace them with Baidu.

… Microsoft recently negotiated with Verizon that some of the Android phones that ship to Verizon customers will have Microsoft’s Bing, not Google, as the default search engine. And the manufacturers are getting in on the act too: Motorola recently released a new phone, the Citrus, based on Android, but shipping with Bing.

Yes, it’s Google’s operating system. In both these instances, it counts as a “win” in the handset volume war against Apple, Microsoft, Nokia and RIM. But Google will not make a cent on this handset, despite having enabled its creation with Android. All the search revenue will flow to Microsoft.

via Did Google Arm Its Own Enemies With Android? – James Allworth – The Conversation – Harvard Business Review.

Readers of this blog might find these arguments familiar.

Since February this year, I wrote four articles under the headline “Google vs. Android” documenting these contradictions in Google’s strategy. There have been numerous other opinion pieces that described how Google’s approach was not consistent with an innovation-based disruption.

I’ve also argued that there is strategic incoherence in building systems software and hardware while selling web services.

Android is powerful, but as Google is finding out, power can be very dangerous without control.

  • http://twitter.com/BrianSHall @BrianSHall

    Ha!
    Actually, I have written about this on my blog in the past and think others, like Baidu, should absolutely leverage Android and strip out Google. However, much as Google claims Android is "open", I suspect that Google will continue to bake its various services (maps, email, Google Voice, Google Apps) into Android, limiting the ability of others to effecitvely "strip out" Google.

    • asymco

      They really can't enforce the service lock-in. The source code is open. Andy Rubin famously defined "open" in a tweet which showed the command line you can use to download the code and compile it.

      Don't forget that not only Google can't enforce Android usage, they don't "own" any rights. The code is open source and depends on open source (Linux). Google tried to also "open" Java for its APIs but that's being challenged by Oracle who owns the rights to Java.

      Google may have contracts with vendors for their services, but the Android code itself is not theirs to leverage in any way.

      As I've written in the past, this is a big battle between Google and Android and my money's on Google winning.

      • r00tabega

        By Android, you mean OHA? Yeah, I do think Google's come to the realization that certain members in OHA (carriers) definitely see Google as a threat (just like Apple).

        With your regards to Google "winning" over Android, my question is this: Doesn't Google employ most of the Android system developers? If Google really wanted to cripple Android they could simply transition most of those folks over to ChromeOS and make that more mobile-friendly (acting more like WebOS).

        I still think Google feels they have strong control over Android and get benefit in seeing it grow.

      • Adam

        "this is a big battle between Google and Android and my money's on Google winning."

        I don't understand this statement. Can you clarify? Your past writings on this seem to argue that Google is losing, in the sense of not making any money from Android. So do you mean by this that long-term they'll find a way to turn this trend around?

      • asymco

        I've argued that Android is a strategic mistake. I've also argued that Google will not benefit and may in fact be hurt by Android. For Google to win, they need to replace Android with a better tought-out mobile strategy. My bet is that is what the will do.

        Don't forget that before Android Google had a mobile business. Android is not Google Mobile. Google has AdMob, Maps and several other mobile services that are probably profitable. Android isn't and instead of ensuring a channel for their services it does the opposite by creating opportunities for its competitors.

      • OpenMind

        Yes. $1 billion ads google said came from Android may be just a sugar coating to make Android looks good. Without Android, google may make exact same $1 billion ads. I think Android more as a personal ego project than a well thought corporate strategy. We will find out the truth after Android debacle down the road.

      • asymco

        Google never said they made $1 billion from Android. In October's earnings call they said their revenue rate (annualized) is $1 billion from mobile ads.

        "This means the people who are accessing our products and services through their mobile phones are adding a $1 billion annually to our existing revenue streams "

        Their Mobile ad network is AdMob, acquired a year ago for $750 million. AdMob offers advertising solutions for many mobile platforms, including Android, iOS, webOS, Flash Lite, and all standard mobile web browsers.

      • http://twitter.com/Niilolainen @Niilolainen

        Includes people just going to google.com on a browser as well, no matter what platform they are on

  • Marian

    I'm not sure that the whole mobile strategy of Google is clear.
    Here's what I was thinking (and writing) back in August 2010, when Google dropped the bomb about their new stance regarding mobile net neutrality:

    "I thought about the whole Google vs. net neutrality issue and I don't think it's like everybody says: "Google gave up to please the most important Android partner – Verizon". In my opinion, it's way more evil on Google's side.
    The whole idea of two sides in the corporate fight about net neutrality was based on the assumption that telecoms (Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner, etc) will block/limit content providers (Google, Yahoo, MSN, Facebook, etc) unless they pay ransom fees. So, if all telecoms treat all content providers equally, the best solution for content providers would be to have NN etched in law. But in reality, for a content provider, the best scenario is when there's net neutrality only for them, at no cost (no ransom to pay), but there's no net neutrality for the competition (I'm thinking at game theory).
    So, let's look at the NN version Google is suggesting: neutrality for non-wireless, no neutrality for wireless. Well, they hold no wildcard for wired broadband. But they hold a very important wildcard for wireless (cellphone) networks: Android. So they protect their back for wired broadband (using FCC), and they protect their back for wireless networks by threatening of pulling Android or simply putting it into the license of Android that you can't sell/market/etc an Android phone unless you give fair (neutral) access to the Googleplex. The whole "Android is open-source therefore Google can't impose anything" is pure B.S., since Verizon, Sprint, etc needs Android Marketplace, which is not open source and it is licensed. So, as long as telecoms want to have Android, they have to give preferential or neutral access to Google properties, while being free to screw every other content provider. Perfect scenario for Google.
    And I don't know where I read, I think on daringfireball, that every telecom, including AT&T, needs Android. The rest to compete in some degree with the iPhone, AT&T to keep the market diluted and to rely as least as possible on a single supplier.

    I used to believe in their "don't do evil" slogan. Now I think Google is BP-evil (or at least Exxon-evil).

    Also, I think that giving preferential access to a content provider is not in any way a violation of the net neutrality principle. Remember SBC Yahoo deal? Net neutrality is imho all about negative things (blocking, limiting, throttling), not about positive things (solve unknown sites through Yahoo, very fast access to Bing, etc)."

    • Ted_T

      Your take on Google's thinking re Net Neutrality makes sense, but I don't think Google holds the winning cards here — Verizon, for instance doesn't give a damn about the Android Marketplace — indeed, they would prefer if it didn't exist so they could force users into their own store.

      Android had two aces up its sleeve vis-a-vis the carriers (at least in the US) — the iPhone was AT&T exclusive and there was no viable alternative mobile OS co compete with the iPhone. Now both these aces are gone — reportedly the iPhone will hit Verizon in January and probably the other two carriers at some point as well, and Windows 7 Phone offers an app phone platform with actual developer support — indeed at launch it has more iOS third party killer apps represented than Android has after two years — the quality of non-Google Android apps is remarkably poor.

      Bottom line — if Google starts making too many demands the carriers will drop it for W7 Phone without thinking twice, with the knowledge that they now have the iPhone as well, this would be a very low risk move on their part.

  • http://twitter.com/TektonikShift @TektonikShift

    Some truth in both points.
    Per Horace, Android allows for other than Google search.
    Per Brian, Google can make some $'s from other Google Apps.

    Case in point: A YouTube App is likely must have for any mobile platform.

    • Richard K

      If you think YouTube is a must have, you have not spent time in China. YouTube is blocked in China. China mobile users will not see YouTube, Facebook, etc until the Chinese gov't changes its policy.

  • hantu13

    Alternatively, Google was playing another game altogether- Not purely about handsets, but to ensure that the Carriers couldn't balkanize the Internet. And of course, to help make sure that no single manufacturer (Apple) could restrict access to sites like Google very easily.

    In this battle, Google's Android strategy has been rather effective. Every smartphone now sold has a browser that people an use, unfettered, to access the Internet. Contrast with the bizarre WAP world that came before. The market is also sufficiently fragmented it's difficult to see any manufacturer dominating the space completely. Would webkit have lead to the same thing without Android?

    Their longer term ambition is to commoditize the smartphone itself as rapidly as possible, driving costs low enough that subsidies are unnecessary in the developed world, and that internet-capable devices are available at affordable prices in the developing world (a market that Google has difficulty reaching due to poor infrastructure). Here too, though too early to say, they seem to be making progress.

    While Carriers continue to fight desperately to avoid the inevitable by adding their own nonsense to Android, this is mainly a side show. None of them have dared to limit browser usage or access to sites.

    The key question for me is the prevalence of search (and effectiveness of Google's search ad strategy) in mobile. Do people use search sites as often? Do they click on ads? I know I don't. In fact, I don't know anyone who does…

    • r00tabega

      Very insightful.
      I do think that Google's greater strategy of protecting their stake in the non-mobile internet is understated.

      However, their drive to "commoditize" the smartphone market is going to run into big problems with Apple and the carriers both of whom do NOT want rock-bottom prices.

      Ultimately, I think the book is not even half-written on the smartphone domination of the mobile market, and it will be interesting to see if Google/Android really do make a strong tablet play.

      • Marcos El Malo

        I don't know that the carriers care that much about handset prices. If cheaper handsets will create more data and voice subscriptions, then they'll gladly give away handsets if the handsets are cheap enough. The carriers are also interested in making money off ancillary services, including search and mobile based transactions. They want every slice of the pie they can get, and if cheap handsets will get them more slices as well as increasing revenue in their core business, they'll be perfectly happy.

        It's the handset manufacturers adopting Android that potentially have the long term problems. Android has allowed them to kick the problem further down the road, but unless they can get or develop their own integrated stack, they will be the first to suffer from commoditization.

      • hantu13

        The point about handsets is the user lock-in that subsidies allow carriers enjoy. In a market where the mid-range smartphones aren't $600, but only say $100, users would be much more free to move from carrier to carrier seeking the best coverage, fastest speeds and lowest prices. Especially if the key feature (other than the above) users value is raw, unfettered access to the Internet. If you're reading this blog, you know how that game ends. It's not a pretty picture for carriers. Once everyone moves to LTE, this particular market (telephony, messaging and Internet access) will get even worse for them.

        The carriers will simply not be able to compete with the Internet when it comes to search, epayments, etc. This is unavoidably true. It's too far outside their domain expertise and the market is far too competitive. The only way they can make money on these things is if they have a captive community with limited options. Thus, Android.

        Agree 100% about Android manufacturers. As Horace has pointed out, this is going to become a game of scale, low prices and low margins. Which is probably the way Google wants it.

        There will always be a market for people willing to pay a premium for user experience, design and upscale hardware. The market is so staggeringly large, Apple can make a ton of money with low market share.

      • dchu220

        Just because manufacturing has been commoditized, doesn't mean hardware grows on trees.

    • Atul Barry

      @hantu: You have made some very good points. However, the dawn of the mobile browser, without the WAP, was actually pioneered by Apple in their original iPhone.

      While it does seem that every time one browses, searches and clicks on ads, Google benefits. It certainly has been true in the desktop world. However, with the advent of iAd, some of the ad revenue will go to Apple and to other handset manufacturers who are thinking of following Apple's path, like RIM and Nokia. In addition, as more and more Android handsets have the default Bing search, the less money Google is going to make.

      Google had aimed to replace Windows CE as the dominant mobile platform; the strategy they are following is that of Microsoft in the 90s, which to is defunct. What Google wanted to was to blanket the world with cheap smartphones, as you stated, and they will make money whenever anyone surfs. That is why they have been very attentive to the needs of the OEMs and even more to the wishes of the carriers, and don't give a hoot about the end-user.

      Ultimately, the business of Google is ads. However, they are realizing that thing will not be as easy in the mobile world, as more and more competitors vie for the ad revenue pie.

      The 'net-neutrality' is dead, at least for the next two years, with the GOP control of the House. We will see tiered Internet services soon, something that Google is now supporting, after being against it (like Kerry!).

      The true threat to the carriers comes, again, from Apple with their plans to have an embedded SIM. While the GSMA has issued a statement of support, the carriers have shown their unease.

    • Davel

      Hantu13

      Great post. U r exactly right.

    • Ted_T

      "Contrast with the bizarre WAP world that came before. The market is also sufficiently fragmented it's difficult to see any manufacturer dominating the space completely. Would webkit have lead to the same thing without Android? "
      As Atul pointed out Webkit comes from Apple and the iPhone, and I would argue that Webkit would still be the dominant mobile rendering engine if Android didn't exist — Nokia, RIM, etc. had no choice — their browsers were laughably inferior to mobile Safari and Webkit offered them an open source lifeline. I can't imagine them sticking to WAP if Android didn't exist — Apple would devour their market share just fine on its own if they didn't adopt Webkit.

  • stsk

    Perhaps someone could explain to me again how it makes sense to define "Android" as a single entity in calculating market share?

    • Pol

      Did you see my reply to your post two days ago?
      http://www.asymco.com/2010/11/16/is-the-smartphon

    • Davel

      To reiterate what Pol said. Android is a single entity because it is one platform. That is android is an OS that provides a common set of services and function. Yes there are multiple hardware features and capabilities which directly affect your experience, but the platform is the same.

      Think iOS. There are several versions of iPhone, but the platform is the same. Same with touch and iPad. All share the same platform and have the same general interface, but the hardware is different.

      Now this does not mean that the vendors can change the application interfaces enough to cause a Balkanization of the platform so that you can't really call them one platform. But they haven't done that yet. They try a bit due to branding, but they are making only marginal changes.

  • Alan

    As I understand it there are multiple levels of "Googleness" in Android:
    – You can have Android without any Google involvement – just download it and start working with it.
    – You can have Android and "comes with Google" which gives you Maps/Navigation, Marketplace, Gmail, and some other stuff. Basically all the good stuff.
    – You can have a signature Google device a la Nexus One which runs stock Android and gets updated by Google rather than by the carrier.

    To get the good stuff you have to abide by the Google license which I'm sure means not making Bing the default.

    In their activation numbers Google has stated they only count the comes with Google and the signature products.

    So Baidu, Moto, et. al. are free to work with android itself and do what they want – my guess is that Yahoo, facebook, and others with eventually make their own marketplaces, mapping apps, and mail clients and ship branded Android phones.

    The payoff for Google is better if people use their apps, but just using mobile web is good for Google as well. They pay Apple something like $100M / yr. to make Google the default search. So they are making money on mobile even if it doesn't use their apps or operating system. I assume, but do not know, that Google helps with android porting and upgrades for handsets that "come with Google". That is probably a big cost for them.

    But they can make more money and have better control if handset makers sign up for their apps. So the question in my mind is does the differential cost of supporting Android and comes with Google on all the various handsets vs. them running iOS or something else get covered by the differential income from running their apps vs. someone elses.

    The question is do they make enough money to keep supporting

    • Davel

      I don't think this is how things work. If you don't play nice with google they may not support you when you have problems. But if you employ good programmers you don't really need them for that. As for all google's or anyone elses apps. Just download it. They are free. You don't have to be nice to google to use maps. At least not now. Google wants u to use maps so they can sell adds. They don't want u to use maps because maps makes money.

  • http://www.notesark.com iphoned

    I commented a few times now on this blog that Google hasn't really thought this one out. Just as they haven't thought out their other successful offerings such as Google Buzz, Google Wave and many others (does any one remember those?).

  • http://www.notesark.com iphoned

    Could we see HTC, Samsung, and Motorolla to offer Bing and Microsoft Maps as default services on their Android devices ( perhaps just to avoid IP legal battles with Microsoft and because MS will pay more for the privilege)?

  • Marcos El Malo

    Think of it like Linux and its various distributions. It applies when we're talking about mobile OSes, but doesn't apply when we're talking about handsets, how the various distros function on those handsets, and the market share of those handsets. It's a simplification, as most models are. We just try to keep in mind that this model (or any model) doesn't tell the whole story.

  • WaltFrench

    @asymco— gimme MORE like this!

    @Marian went out on a limb with a rather evil business plan for Google, and at the risk of sounding more tin-foli-hattish, (s?)he could go another couple feet or so. Virtually all the big players have the incentive to be dominant enough to allow them premium pricing on their products AND to have majority market share; the two are reinforcing and so both matter.

    Look at wireless carriers AT&T and Verizon. AT&T seems a little spooked about the loss of US exclusivity; Verizon is riding high on having taken over the "Droid" name and all the Android love-fest. For either, while 100% market share would be hugely profitable, it would also be very expensive to achieve because the only real differentiator would be price. So, for now, the unstable equilibrium favors an oligopoly.

    That's just like the cableTV plays versus the many content providers. Yes, Fox had the superbowl, but the ads that pay for their expensive MLB license couldn't get to viewers without Comcast/Time-Warner at the toll booth. Comcast has ENOUGH market power to extract rent from the content guys.

    And it's just like the battle that Google posited for the mobile internet. They're not JUST trying to keep "one man, one company" from controlling the mobile internet, they are trying to ensure that THEIR various services (paid for by ads) control at least a majority share of the mobile internet. Once an ad buyer can get at least 3X the ad exposure from Google that it can get from the next 5 combined, Google has all the market power it needs to go to 100%.

    And they know this because they said as much about Apple.

    Adobe never cared that Flash was crappy on OSX and Linux. The problem is that the world has changed: smartphones will soon be a majority of browsers uses and Flash is non-existent on 200 million smartphones today. So Adobe bashes Apple, which has hardware that Flash could never run on, rather than admit that they will NEVER have the resources to support the multiple OS/CPU/GPU/drivers that will be the case in a couple of years; that has kept their customer base intact (and helped Android to no small extent).

    Just the same: Google doesn't care if 3 handsets feature Bing. All they need is that Android is a bit MORE ubiquitous than any other format. Once Android gets to 60% share, there will be no issue as to whether Verizon specs phones with Bing, Mapquest or a whole host of competitive products.

    What is to keep Google, once Android gets majority share, of forking the OS, letting LG, SonyEricsson or whomever botch it up as badly as they want: the "real" Android will rule, and Google can go all-proprietary.

    Did Google arm its own enemies? No, they are just providing arms to the Taliban to overthrow the Russians, with the knowledge that they can totally withdraw all their power when their proxy combatants have done their work. Why should a Moto, or LG, or Sammy think that they will have ANY market power once Google creates a Tower of Babble committee with zero power?

    • Davel

      WaltFrench
      I like your description of the current state of the market, however I disagree with your conclusion.

      Let us say google is able to gain 60% marketshare. If the vendors strike deals with bing or any other search engine, how is google going to prevent that? They can of course opt out of the open source thing, but it is already out there. As OS's mature new features/architecture improvements slow down. Then it becomes a bug fix/security thing. In other words the code is already available which means the players don't need google to go forward.

      Also the whole point of android was that it was free. That is it's attraction.

      Additionally the trademark names as I understand them are not owned by google. That is droid and the other branding are owned by other companies.

      So I don't understand how google can control things. I stated this in a previous posting regarding the separation of applications and the OS. Google can only play this game if they continue to push out programs that others crave and that are clearly superior.

      It takes a lot of effort to make a good search engine. How many are there? About 2 or 3 I think. I am glad MSFT wants to play. It creates competition.

      • WaltFrench

        “Also the whole point of android was that it was free. That is it's attraction.”

        I believe that the point of Android remains that it is an available alternative to iPhone and it does not pose an immediate threat to Verizon's market power, which they have carefully cultivated. But every business seeks long-term growth OF EARNINGS and so once Google achieves critical mass (it's close), they can start locking down Android. Carriers may allow Bing on a couple of phones today but eventually, Microsoft is not able to get as much value out of Bing (not able to deliver as much value from which to extract a slice) as Google is out of their search. No matter how much the carriers might like to play "let's you and him fight," customers will not buy the Bing-crippled phones.

        Google knows this. Why does Microsoft continue to play second fiddle to the stars? I can only believe it's a shell game between MS management and its shareholders: management wants income based on the promise of growth; shareholders want growth, but Windows/Office is a hugely profitable but topped-out business. Bing competes in the same way that Zune competes with iPod. As MS loses market power based on its phones disappearing, it will have even less leverage/profitability from Bing, and it will be starved out. Bad business management, almost as obvious as the Kin debacle.

        Regards apps: see Gruber's recent post for the fact that apps are a vast wasteland for Android. Yes, you can find comparable offerings for must-haves like Kindle Reader, but iOS has some very nice iOS-only niche products and and iOS-superior apps like Angry Birds before you descend into the fart apps. Android, in contrast, currently falls off a cliff into copyright ripoffs and trash. Why? App developers have higher costs and lousier monetization (including piracy) on Android.

        If Google cared about apps, they could fix it. But the quality of the app store obviously won't keep Google from achieving its goals, so they don't. Big partners will develop portals into their stores and the little developers will go back to their previous lives.

        If you look at most people's priorities for a smartphone, #1 would have to be "phone" and #2 "browsing." Today, Android scores 9 and 9 versus Apple's 8 and 8, because of Verizon having a perceived better network and the minimal Flash support, faster javascript of Android, and Verizon's favoring Androids with favorable tethering prices. Go down the list to apps (maybe #3 for most) and it's more like Android 6, Apple 9, which obviously doesn't matter so much; further to cameras, displays, overall quality etc and it's a who-cares mix of maybe one or another.

        If Google keeps enhancing Android, Verizon won't need Apple the way they needed Android. iPhones become a "nice to have" part of their traditional game of playing OEMs against one another. Google will not tighten the screws until they have enough power to dictate terms to the carriers, and they'd be idiots to turn Apple into the White Knight. Apple will not get nearly the quality of terms on Verizon that they enjoy today, or that they would have 2 years ago when Android was not competitive.

        So Google must certainly be planning for the day when they CAN take control over the mobile internet. The OEMs do not have the financial incentive (nor, with them all being interchangeable, the earnings to allow them) to make a quality OS; they've already shown that. Google should have no trouble taking Android back.

      • davel

        Yes. the fact that android is free is the basis for htc, et al to embrace it. verizon was looking for their own high end smart phone because they made a mistake on apple originally. att has been growing in the mobile space because of apple, so droid and other phones became verizon's successful response to that threat.

        as for apps. developers will go where the money is. android is now roughly on par with ios. android has many apps. i cannot quibble over 300k vs 100k apps. angry birds which you bring up is available on some android phones. its a nice diversion, but there will be others.

        the issue with the default browser is one of money. google and microsoft derive benefits from having their default browser installed. as we learned from the pc wars, having something as a default is powerful. over time it will change the dynamics of power.

        bing has proven to be a viable alternative to google as a search engine.

        i agree that msft has not been a force for change in years. as you point out it is about defending its space. many companies have that problem. how to go after new markets without cannibalization your current product lineup. apple is doing it with the ipad.

        microsoft has not been willing and able to do so. i believe they need a change in management. balmer may be a fine mba, but he has no vision. a software company needs vision. who they are and where they are going. he has been able to defend his turf but not grow it.

        microsoft should have dominated the hight end phone space because they were there alone. lack of vision allowed apple to come in and take it away.

        again. because android is open source all the players who control its expression can put whatever they want on it and google cannot stop it. microsoft is fighting them on search and apple is fighting them on ads.

      • kevin

        We don't know yet what terms Apple got from Verizon, but it's a pretty well accepted rumor that iPhone is coming in 2011 on Verizon. It's likely both sides compromised. In any case, we know Verizon has gone to Apple several times to ask why they were in the doghouse and how they could get out of it (can't remember if it was a NYT or WSJ article on CEO Seidenberg's upcoming retirement).

        Bottom line: Android helped Verizon to stop losing its own customers to AT&T, but it was not helping Verizon to gain as many new customers as it wanted. Apple has grown tired of AT&T repeatedly failing to be ready for Apple's iPhone enhancements (video streaming, app downloads, tethering, Facetime, etc), thus, giving Android more space to compete.

  • davel

    I don't understand this argument at all.

    Do I understand this thread as Google ( the company and it's ability to monetize it's assets ) vs Android an 'open source' OS phone platform?

    If that is the case, Google ( Maps, Browser, etc ) can all be stripped. Easily.

    OS 101. An operating system is essentially software that interfaces with the hardware and provides services like memory management, process management, etc. These other things – maps, Browser, etc are just applications that run on an OS. There is nothing inherently critical in any of this to the proper working of an OS. Microsoft's anti-trust arguments about how the browser ( Internet Explorer ) are critically integrated into Windows notwithstanding. They were able to make that argument because no one in the courtroom knew how to spell computer.

    • asymco

      For Google the OS (and the browser and the device) are channels. They are the middlemen who stand between them and the user. One can look at middlemen and see them as parasites. Or one can look at middlemen and see them as market makers. If Google tips toward the view that they are not only parasites but possible obstacles that can block access to the market, then they begin to dis-intermediate these channels. However, if they're wrong or if they fail being the market makers, the downside risk is huge. They could lose any trust that those middlemen had in them and turn the possibility of an obstruction into a certainty.

      • davel

        I don't think they are parasites because they provide products and services in android, browsers and various applications.

        they cost however is hidden from the users in the information they collect, mine and sell.

        as a customer you lose control over your anonymity and who has your information on who you are. a corporate giant owns and sells that information.

      • kevin

        One could argue that Google has already turned Apple (as a middleman) into an enemy. Google apps (Maps, YouTube, search in Safari) only remain as default apps on the iPhone because they are still better in terms of user experience than the competition's products. Microsoft/Yahoo/AOL could gain rapidly if they significantly improve their services.

        Also, if Google hadn't created Android as competition, they could have secured Nokia (Symbian/MeeGo, excepting Maps) as a customer for default placement of its mobile services as well.

  • http://twitter.com/Niilolainen @Niilolainen

    Good stuff. You are really on your game at the moment.

  • berult

    Android is Google psy-op on mind share. Expandable ad infinitum, expendable as interregnum. 

    Once one understands the expansionary time scale and the potential magnitude of "smart mobile" market space, Google's strategy feels a lot more comprehensive than the utter chaos Android "demos" itself to be. Google weighs in Soprano-like on mobile so as to wear down any dynamic hold on its evolution. Market space wise: real by occupational default, surreal as a future to sow. 

    Apple's game is to pull Google into a fast, accelerating pace of innovation. Apple on clues plays harmony forte, peers pianissimo. Google on cues draws esoteric, and colors it true.  Once you're caught in a "spidergeek"'s web, you're no longer the enemy, you're hung up full circle to dry!    

    • http://twitter.com/Niilolainen @Niilolainen

      I just love it that Bob Dylan posts here

  • asymco

    Instead of staying true to its business logic, Google lunges into adjacent spaces in its value chain. It gets into the browser business or the systems software business or in the device business or into politics and regulation. These moves are defensive moves. These moves are sure to create violent reactions from threatened partners/potential partners. While pouring resources into 1990s business models (browsers, operating systems and hardware) Google completely missed the real disruption in its core: social media and the end of search.

    • dchu220

      It's interesting to see the Disruption Theory play out.

      One would have assumed that Google, with their unlimited supply of whiz kids and cash would have been the first to see Facebook coming.