The Hills Are Greener: How Google is Hindering Android

The Hills Are Greener: How Google is Hindering Android

Apr 9, 2012

I have become convinced that the biggest hurdle for Android right now is Google.

The weaknesses that Google has in selling directly to consumers are coming to hit them hard. Amazon is making developers more revenue per user than Google is, and it ain’t close. Google’s own internal product strategies are in flux, with a long public manifesto saying they need to focus on their core products being released. This is one of the giants of the tech industry, and they have the biggest mobile operating system in the world, but they have still found ways to bungle so much of it.

Now the latest rumor is that Google wants to sell the much-rumored-but-never-seen Nexus Tablet to customers directly on the web. That worked so well for the Nexus One, right? Granted, a low-cost tablet is different than a phone which confusingly costs more than a bigger screen device. But if Google goes with this strategy, then they’re making a huge mistake, especially if they want to really stand their ground in the market of the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet.

Both of those devices are easy to find at retail – and for the latter, not just Barnes and Noble, either. Brick-and-mortar retail may be on a downswing, but the fact that someone can just go to a store and feel the device in their hands is a huge plus. Amazon is also the e-commerce leader, and that they can easily get the device in customers’ faces is a huge plus for them. Barnes and Noble has certainly been helped by having the Nook in not just their own storefronts, but by being in stores like Target as well. Having that public face is a necessity, and if Google follows through on their plan, it will backfire on them.

The Kindle Fire

Amazon’s other advantage is that they are very good at selling products directly to customers. They are a commerce company, they know how to get product to customers, and get the money from customers. While they also provide the pipeline to do so (and provide servers and web hosting for much of the internet, so that can’t be underestimated), and sell from third-party vendors on their website, the fact is that they know how to sell to consumers. The fact that they are dramatically outperforming Google on their own OS with a third-party store and ‘unofficial’ device is rather telling.

Google is an intermediary company. Google is what people use to get their info to them. They do that very well – their search is still king, and Gmail is still widespread. The point is that both of those products try to act as the pipeline that gets information to users that they want. Google’s failings come from when they try to be that direct provider. They’ve built an increasingly-capable operating system in Android, but they have shown their difficulties in getting quality products to customers. Google Play is struggling at making money for developers despite the number of Android devices out there. Heck, they can’t even get their stock operating system out there because the manufacturers and carriers have customized it to their whim, providing generally negative experiences.

They have failed to keep their phones up to date. They have sold phones that are underpowered and unsupported even when customers buy them. Google has found ways to make good hardware with timely updates (the Nexus devices have been critically well-received), but customers don’t have these devices.

So, with an idea that could have some viability – a graphically-powerful, low-priced Nexus Tablet? Instead of finding ways to put it in consumers’ hands easily, and having the natural ability to brag that they have more apps at launch, they’re going to try and sell it themselves? While it’s still rumor and it could be nothing, does it not reek of a patently Google decision?

Google has mismanaged Android to the point where they may actually make more money off of their services on iOS than they do on Android. The platform that they own. It’s crazy to think about, but it just might be reality.

I think the mobile market is far better than it was before Android came along. The problem is that because of Google’s own incompetence, it could be far better than it is. Google has the power to change things. They just seem unwilling or unable to use it.

Carter Dotson
Carter Dotson, editor of Android Rundown, has been covering Android since late 2010, and the mobile industry as a whole since 2009. Originally from Texas, he has recently moved to Chicago. He loves both iOS and Android for what they are - we can all get along!
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