November 28, 2014

What is Google's true aim with rumored X Phone?

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Some readers may recall recently reading that Motorola Mobility is making an Android powered device codenamed ‘X-Phone‘. While the known details are somewhat limited at this time, it seems pretty obvious that this may be Google’s attempt at directly taking on Apple… and Samsung.

Sure, one of the main ideas behind acquiring Motorola Mobility was not just to get hold of the patents, but also use them as a main hardware partner in future ‘Pure Google’ devices.  Done right, Google will use Motorola to make a direct impact in the very mobile market they have helped shape over the years.

With Samsung currently enjoying nearly half of all Android activations, Google could be interpreted as ‘losing control of its own operating system.  What happens if Samsung decides to change things up and go with another OS? What happens if their Windows Phone efforts are just as promising? Will relying on partners like Samsung come back to haunt Google? After all, we never hear specifically about how the Galaxy devices ‘run Android’. Is Google really benefiting from the way Samsung uses Android?

There is a very interesting read over at Unwired View which posits that Google is seeking to wrest back control of its own OS with this X Phone. If you’ve got a few minutes, we definitely recommend checking it out.

Do you think Google is worried about how Samsung employs Android for its mobile efforts? Is Google trying to go head to head with Apple and create the entire user experience at both the hardware and software level? Are they looking to become the dominant player in their own sandbox? What is Google’s true aim with rumored X Phone?


  • http://twitter.com/jdreetz James Reetzke

    Based on Google’s efforts with their Nexus Q, I’m bit skeptical if they pull off anything monumental working with Motorola.

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  • ChrisLH

    Google is an information company. While I’m sure they’d love to make a ton of money off of Android, information is the key.

    If Samsung splits and forks Android, I don’t know that Google will care that much because as the article states, Google does better on iOS than it does Android. They have a full suite of apps and a sticky, free ecosystem which people will continue to use even if Samsung does its own thing. They still gather a ton of information, which is their core business. Information is power and power is king.

    Nothing Samsung does right now is better than what stock Android does with the exception of the S-Pen. If Samsung goes off on its own they will still have to allow Android apps to work on their phones or they will fail – developers aren’t going to support a completely new app ecosystem. That means all of Google’s services will still be available and work on Samsung devices and they will still gather tons of information.

    Up to now, Google has worked with manufacturers to create Android phones because it expands the brand and greatly increases the number of devices running Android, which keeps the information flowing through Google. Google isn’t a hardware company, so they needed the hardware manufacturers to be on board and happy which is why you’ve never seen Google truly push its Nexus devices because if they alienated the manufacturers, Android dies. With Motorola, that has changed. Google has had to take it slow with Motorola so that the other manufacturers don’t jump ship too early, but that is about to change. Google can now manufacture its own devices and is starting to push its Nexus devices much more than it has in the past.

    Google’s primary battle right now is with the carriers. They want to get carriers out of the equation and have begun to move in that direction by offering broadband services. They will do the same with wireless. Then, even if Samsung or any other hardware manufacturer decides to jump ship, Google will still be in a position to get tons of information. Google sells its devices unlocked so there isn’t carrier tie-in. They made the Nexus 4 incompatible with Verizon after Verizon basically crippled the Galaxy Nexus and prevented Google Wallet from working on Verizon devices. Google wants complete independence from these types of restrictions and is taking steps in that direction.

    The xPhone isn’t so much about making money off Android or through hardware sales, its about making sure they are still in a position to gather information in the event that Samsung goes in its own direction. Stock Android is now a better, more cohesive experience than the manufacturer roms and will continue to outpace the others because of the massive information Google has at its disposal to improve its products and services. Nobody else can match that, not even Samsung.

    If and when Samsung splits, you will see Google immediately begin pushing its Motorola hardware much more than it is currently. They just don’t want to push too hard right now because Android adoption is increasing exponentially and they aren’t having to do any of the work to achieve that other than to continue to improve Android, which is a benefit to them. Samsung doesn’t have the overall ecosystem in place that Google does. So if Samsung splits, then Google can almost immediately offer a much better, comprehensive mobile experience through its Motorola phones than Samsung will be able to provide – plus it comes with the Motorola brand, which is still respected for its hardware.

    At its core, Google is an information company. That isn’t going to change and everything they do is a means to continue to gather more information than any other company in the world. Looking at hardware sales/profit from Android is missing the forest for the trees and ignores the big picture. While I’m sure they would love to increase their profits, they aren’t going to cut off their nose to spite their face. They are just continuing to lay the groundwork for their information business.

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