A First Step in Google's New Android Strategy?
By Anton Wahlman - 04/26/12 - 3:23 PM EDTTheStreet) -- He's baaaaack! No, I'm not talking about a zombie in a scary movie or Mitt Romney's future press secretary, Newt Gingrich. I'm talking about Google
- 1. Google couldn't handle the customer support. Although this isn't surprising for those who try to get customer support from any of the other free Google services, one would like to think that Google could have walked and chewed gum at the same time, compartmentalizing this product. Or, more likely, it was just a terrible execution debacle on Google's side. I mean, simply offering telephone support, if nothing else, is not rocket science.
- 2. Google was pressured, or easily bowed to, the carriers such as Verizon Wireless (a joint venture of Verizon Communications
and Vodafone ). Again, this seems like a flimsy argument, because other devices are also sold outside carrier channels. Apple will sell you an unlocked iPhone, and Nokia will do the same. Although these unlocked devices haven't been that popular in the U.S., they can be sold, and U.S. carriers seem to have had nothing to fear here.
- A focus on what has set Motorola apart in recent months. This means battery life. At 3,300 mAh, the Droid Razr Maxx is the only Android smartphone in the market today that provides remotely acceptable battery life with a standard battery. With Apple's iPhone 5 rumored to have a battery close to 3,000 mAh, Motorola would be wise to go even higher than its current 3,300 mAh. Perhaps we will see a 5,000 mAh smartphone soon! I think something like 3,300 mAh will be "standard" across all mid/high range Motorola smartphones, perhaps with one or two at 5,000.
- A focus on "pure Android." Most people are complaining today about the slow updates to Android, and the fact that most people don't like the "skins" that essentially all OEMs bake into proprietary implementations of Android. For example, HTC has "Sense", Samsung has "TouchWiz" and so forth. These skins are widely hated by the users, and Google (through its Motorola division) could differentiate itself by at least offering "pure Android" on all of its new smartphones and tablets. This move alone could chop off the legs of all the other Android OEMs until they decide to copy.
- Chrome OS. Why wouldn't "the new Motorola" also make Chromebooks? After all, Motorola already makes keyboards designed for its Android devices. With Chrome OS being ported to run on the same kinds of ARM Holdings
chips already driving Android, from companies such as Qualcomm , NVIDIA and Texas Instruments , it would be all that much easier to do.
- Actually, Motorola has also signed up to be one of the first providers of Intel
-based Androids, shortly after Lenovo and a few other smaller players. That being the case, just as it makes sense for Motorola to offer Chromebooks based on its current Android silicon providers -- Qualcomm, NVIDIA and Texas Instruments -- it would also make sense to offer the whole line of Android and Chromebooks based on Intel. In other words, Google/Motorola should simply offer every product -- smartphone, tablet and laptop -- on all four major silicon providers here: Intel, Qualcomm, NVIDIA and Texas Instruments.
How many basic SKUs does that mean? Well, three basic form factors, four silicon providers... that's twelve just for starters. And of course, each basic form factor will be sold in multiple variants, so of course Motorola will offer a lot more than 12 high-end SKUs in these three basic categories combined.
What would be the reaction if Google offered "pure Android" versions of Motorola smartphones and tablets from Intel, Qualcomm, Nvidia and Texas Instruments, as well as Chromebooks based on the same four silicon providers? Consumers would rejoice! OEMs such as Samsung, LG, Sony, HTC and others? They would feel very threatened, and legitimately so. Maybe some would jump further into Microsoft's arms. Maybe someone would acquire RIM. Maybe they would just sit tight with a poker face and continue without change in strategy. Who knows. The strategic implications of Google going vertical (as a result of the Motorola acquisition) have yet to play out.
- That's Google's strategic move on the device side. But if you're Google, why stop there? Why not sell all of these products directly, in addition to the cellular carriers? Google can sell all of these smartphones, tablets and Chromebooks contract-free, SIM-unlocked, in addition to distributing them -- subsidized or unsubsidized -- through all cellular carriers and third-party distributors such as Amazon.com
and Best Buy . Perhaps this would persuade U.S. consumers that it's in their holistic interest to buy unsubsidized in order to be able to switch carriers and stay flexible.
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