Is Google Getting a Bit Too Big for its Britches?

Rich Miner, Google’s VP of Mobile, used eComm yesterday to rekindle buzz surrounding Google’s upcoming mobile OS Android. How did he attempt to accomplish this? The same way most others do these days; he talked about the iPhone. Some might say that a truly innovative product speaks for itself. Creators can discuss its capabilities, as opposed to launching attacks on competitive products, and that will be enough set the internet ablaze with interest and coverage. When you get down to the nuts and bolts of Android, Google is building another new Linux mobile OS. Its intentions according to Miner, are to create a Linux OS that eliminates the need for all others and gives developers and users alike, a single mobile platform – for both development and consumption. Call us crazy, but that sounds hauntingly familiar; much like the intentions of every Linux mobile OS that has been built to date. So what will make Android a success?

Yes, the “Google” name will likely carry it relatively far. A number of well-respected developers have also given the upcoming mobile OS high praise on a technical level which bodes well. The problem? Google partners don’t need to sell Android-equipped handsets to developers, they need to sell to consumers. Will the release version of Android be innovative enough to attract mass consumer adoption? Apple took a solid approach when developing OS X mobile. Rather than create “another mobile OS” to combat Symbian and Windows Mobile, Apple chose to attack one of the areas where the two big boys were (and are) seriously lacking; the UI. Yes, the mobile version of OS X is very elegantly coded as any non-biased programmer who has dug through the OS will tell you. On a consumer level however, people like ‘pretty things’ and OS X mobile is gorgeous. The iPhone’s UI is one of a few massive selling points that consumers have become infatuated with.

So what exactly will Android’s selling points be? Open? Wow, an open mobile OS… Revolutionary! Of course Android will be open on an OS level with no documented restrictions to date, but existing smartphone OSes allow deep integration. The differences here will likely be more apparent to developers as opposed to consumers. The UI? Just like Pam, Android is looking like a bit of a butterface according to available previews but the final product remains to be seen of course. Linux? The masses could care less about the platform itself. The Google name? Yes, that will work to a certain extent in terms of landing manufacturer partners and if Google can flood the market then its OS will sell well by default. Google will not however, land the biggest smartphone manufacturer in the world (Nokia) as a partner and that leaves them picking away at Windows Mobile business. 2008 is going to wrap up in a ball of jet fuel-propelled fire; Android, S60 Touch, 3G iPhone and so on. Simmer down Google, this will hardly be a cakewalk.


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