It’s a great misfortune that we don’t have data about the future. It makes it hard to tell what’s going to happen.
It’s even harder because although sometimes we have data about the past, the past and the future don’t always look the same.
Clearly that’s what makes predictions about mobile computing platforms tricky. Nothing that has happened recently had been predicted by those who had tried to do so in the past.
The difficulty is compounded if trying to forecast in the long term like 4 or 5 years ahead. The tendency is to extrapolate what has been happening to date.
When I began the series of posts on Google vs. Android I put forward some questions about the business logic of Google becoming an operating system supplier, especially as that role can be seen as being counter-productive to Google’s strategy.
I noted three strategy costs associated with a zero priced systems software bundle.
- A opportunity cost with other platform vendors, namely Apple who might retaliate against Google’s core business.
- Versions of the software being usurped and modified to provide distribution to Google’s competitors.
- Damage to Google’s brand and positioning and negotiating power in relation with other members of their value chain.
More fundamentally, Google-as-systems-software is asymmetric to Google-as-cloud-software and contradicts the value proposition that Google enables value in the web not in accessing the web. Android appears to be a nod in the direction that systems software still matters.
In my numerous posts on the need for integrated development