Sunday, January 29, 2012

What Google should do with Android

Just read a post, where the author talks about what he thinks Google should do with Android to make profits. In brief, he wanted Google to close Android and license it to companies for $10-$20....

God, what a terribly dumb idea :-(.


  1. Android is based on Linux which has GPL license restrictions
  2. It would be horrible publicity for Google - the PR losses will be real in $ terms
  3. Samsung would be pissed enough to look more seriously at Windows Phone 7.x/Bada as its preferred platform. Other vendors who had a choice would, too. It would actually give an open source OS a real break!

Fortunately, Larry Page has better things to do than listen to him. Hopefully he will use his copious free time to take a look at these suggestions ;-).

What I would do if I were Larry Page and about to own Motorola (till I could sell it off):

  • Insist that Motorola run stock Android and commit to supporting upgrades to whatever the latest version of Android is for 3 years from the date of manufacture of the device.
  • Upgrade to the latest version within 1 month of a new version being available to it (subject to carrier restrictions in the US).
  • Allow Motorola to license software to improve Android functionality (e.g. to improve Outlook integration, enterprise capabilities), but only if that software doesn't require any weird changes to core Android. This might also be customized for carriers ie. let the carrier license third party software.
  • At the high end, require them to ship with better hardware than Apple (not sure if this will always be possible, just because of Apple's volumes).
  • Let the bootloader be easily unlocked by the user
  • Use Motorola to ship non-phone/tablet devices based on Android - e.g. Google TV, thermostats, etc.

Anyway, I do believe that in the phone market, if there is a first rate vendor who commits to shipping with and supporting the latest version of Android, this will force other manufacturers to do the same. This will allow users to choose the best device when they are buying a phone without needing to worry about upgradability. It would be completely in keeping with Android's open philosophy and Google's commitments to phone manufacturers.

One other thing Larry might want to use Motorola to do, is to design a reference phone that is also open sourced - this will let manufacturers in Taiwan/China make knock-offs at really, really cheap prices to flood the market. Will kill Nokia in developing countries and make Android the largest market for app developers - both for paid, ad supported or free apps - win the numbers game against Apple.

Personally, I think Google is taking a way longer view of things than Apple. They want to own the mobile OS platform - Apple wants to make as much money as it can now.

Any thoughts?