5by5 | The Critical Path #38: Seeking Enlightenment

Horace and Dan wade into Android Economics expanding on the series of posts on Asymco. We also give an update on The Critical Path Kickstarter project.

via 5by5 | The Critical Path #38: Seeking Enlightenment.


  • Horace, again, congratulations on the whole Android series. It reminds me of what people say about the good artists or athletes “They make it look so easy”. I feel the same about your Android analysis: you make it look so easy, while there is actually a lot of work in it.

    You were asking for enlightening on the Android question. Although I do not have such a smart insight I will still provide some comments that could add a different shade to the discussion. I understand that when you put the Android business into the context of Google’s own business it does not fare well. And it looks even worse when compared to Apple. Those are fair comparisons, considering the origin of Android. However, when judged purely on its own merits Android would be a reasonable business. If we always used Apple as a comparison, then there would be no business worth starting anymore πŸ™‚ If a startup had Android’s business results after 3 years of running, wouldn’t it have a pretty successful IPO?

    Looking back at Android from Google’s perspective, one cannot exclude the possibility that Android might have been an unfortunate business decision. Would that be something worth analyzing in more depth? For example, would it be worth calculating the costs of exiting the Android business? If the costs of exiting are high, it might explain why Google is forced to continue with Android.

    And last, there is also another way of looking at Android as a defensive move. Android’s is a proof that the mobile computing was ripe for a modular architecture disruption. Let’s assume that this disruption would not have come from Google, but maybe from another company. What would have been the impact on Google’s business today and in a few years, when mobile search and ads will start eating from the non-mobile revenues? What if Facebook had launched Android instead of Google?

    • By Android’s success I mean just success in selling a lot of devices to users and nothing else πŸ™‚