August 30, 2014

Did Google Shoot itself in the Foot with Nexus One?

Microsoft sure thinks so.  In a quote from Microsoft’s Robbie Bach taken from Bloomberg, it seems the software giant thinks that Google may have bitten off more than it can chew.

The Bach Quote from Bloomberg:

“Doing both in the way they are trying to do both is actually very, very difficult,” he said in an interview yesterday from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. “Google’s announcement sends a signal where they’re going to place their commitment. That will create some opportunities for us and we’ll pursue them.”

What Bach is talking about is the fact that Google is not pushing the Nexus One in the traditional way, either selling it themselves, or by creating partnerships with carriers with an exclusive deal.  As we know now, Google is doing it both ways.  So the question is, has Google shot itself in the foot by taking this route?

Of course this remains to be seen, but it is a valid point that Bach makes.  The appeal of Android to carriers has been the fact that it is a free product, and available to any handset maker that wants to use it for their smartphone production.  With the current explosion of Android handsets, the inclusion of Android is a draw for the consumer to at least look at any handset that is advertised as having Google’s platform as it’s core OS.

Another quote from Bloomberg talks about the job Google has ahead of them:

“No one has ever succeeded in selling their own device while trying to license to partners simultaneously,” said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Los Angeles-based research firm Interpret LLC. “As much as Google can say it’s not a Google phone, the phone says Google on it. They’re going to have to convince their licensees they’re not in competition with them.”

With Google’s release of the N1, it is possible that carriers and handset producers may now view that Google instead of being a welcome partner, may now be a direct competitor.  There is a very real possibility that Google will be seen to now have a stranglehold on the very people that helped them to spread Android’s influence to one of the direct competitors in the smartphone industry.  Say for example Google starts to release Nexus One exclusive updates to the Android OS that gives “special” functionality to Google’s own handset and not to other Android devices?  With the open source development of different Android branches, I am not sure if this is something that would become a possibility, but it certainly is something to think about.

It needs to be mentioned of course that with the release of the N1, Google has now upped the ante with Microsoft in their ongoing battle.  Google and Microsoft have been head to head in almost everything, including word processing, search and mobile OS platforms.  Now Google has beaten Microsoft to the punch of having a branded handset.

I for one do not think that Google is going to have much trouble with the way they are deciding to go with releasing the N1.  I cannot imagine that handset makers did not see something like this coming, certainly it had to be a possibility that they had foreseen.

Google has long been a trailblazer in technology.  Not inly in technology, but how we use technology.  I think Google is blazing a new path with how the N1 is being sold, and opening future avenues of sales and revenue for the search giant.

It will be interesting to see a year down the line how everything has fallen out.  I do not think the future includes the Android platform failing in the marketplace.