July 23, 2014

34 Weeks of OHA: #8

Open Handset Alliance Member Profiles (Week #8 – Google)
For 34 weeks, each Tuesday, Jordan from fandroid.net will be joining us to offer a profile of each of the 34 members of the Open Handset Alliance.


Company Name:
GoogleHow the OHA site classifies them: Software Company.
What the OHA site says about them: Our mission is to organize all the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

What they do: Cackle gleefully as the money comes rolling in. The Wikipedia entry doesn’t quite seem to do it justice:

“Google is an American public corporation, earning revenue from online and mobile advertising related to its Internet search, web-based e-mail, online mapping, office productivity, social networking, and video sharing as well as selling advertising-free versions of the same technologies.”

Kind of an inadequate description, because the thing about Google is this: it makes a sh!tton of money, and is worth an insane amount. Current Market Cap? According to Yahoo, $159 billion dollars. This site claims that $160 billion dollar bills stacked on top of one another would be 55,333,200 feet high, which wouldn’t quite get you to the moon or anything but is still a whole lot of one dollar bills.

Most of this money comes from ads attached to search results. Google does other things, some well, some not so well: Gmail, Google Reader, Google Docs, etc., etc. It’s the search stuff that made Google what it is, however – 75% + market share worldwide, such a dominant position that were Microsoft to acquire Yahoo its combined market share wouldn’t even be a third of what Google has.

Everything else Google does can be seen as an attempt to add other profitable ad platforms to their core search functionality. Their in-browser email, document editing, RSS feed reader, chat, etc., are not only cool bits of cloud computing produced by an engineer-centric corporation, they also offer Google the opportunity to build a profile around you and more effectively target ads.
What they bring to OHA and Android: Well, they own the thing.

They bring clout, the will to innovate, and a suite of web-based apps that, in many cases, seem custom fit for the mobile platform.

The more interesting question is: why are they producing Android? The easy answer is: “For the potential ad-revenue, of course.” But they already have mobile apps that are widely used, why go to all the trouble of doing the actual OS, an area they have never attempted to infiltrate before?

Well, there is this concept that it gives them more hooks into the user. If they own the OS they can access the SMS subsystem, the GPS subsystem, the Contacts subsystem, and the Browser subsystem, so that when you text message a friend asking where the two of you should go for lunch they know that you have 5 pizza places in your contacts and are currently standing at the corner of 5th and 134th, so that when you go online to try and find a place to eat they can offer a custom answer — Pagliacci’s Pizza is two blocks away and a favourite of yours — and thereby get a few bucks from the Pizza Place owner for their trouble. Of course, the user can opt-out if they so choose; its an option Google must offer if they want to avoif doing evil. Check out these quotes a USA Today article from a few weeks back, in which they interview Cole Brodman, T-Mobile’s chief development officer:

By combining “unique information about consumers from the Web,” he says, with “other information” from mobile devices, such as location, “Google believes search responses can be much more targeted for Google, and that the value they can bring back to advertisers can be quite a bit higher.” …Android won’t favor Google over Yahoo and other search-engine rivals. [Brodman] says consumers also can “opt out” of Google’s “cookies,” used to track their movements on the Web.

In my heart of hearts, however, I don’t really believe its all revenue motivated. Google is an engineer’s company. It’s a bunch of folks rather like me: coders, hackers; they’re just a lot smarter and a lot better paid. Google’s folks are, in the end, into cool-ass tech. The ad stuff is placed on top to keep the money flowing, but many of these guys come up with this stuff just ’cause its a cool idea. Android as we know it, the open source OS, running on Linux, rocking its own Java virtual machine, promising to free up phones everywhere, is the product of a bunch of Google geeks sharing the cool toy they built.

But then, I’m a Google apologist, which is why I write these articles. If you feel so inclined, just ignore my hippy-happy, love-and-clean-code, Richard-Stallman rantings, and go ahead persisting in the belief that it’s all motivated by money.

I feel sorry for you, you sad, cynical person.