Why Android isn’t the best Mobile OS

Posted by Mike Alvarez On Wednesday, December 22, 2010

While Google is eating up much of the mobile market today, I am not sure Android will win the mobile marathon in years to come.

Google’s Announcement that Google Voice Search is available through Android based phones and will provide better voice matching to individual speech patterns, once again reminded me of Google’s primary business which is converting data into dollars via advertising. Take a guess at what percentage of Google’s revenue comes from Advertising??

(you’ll find this answer later in the post)

Google excels at making connections. Connecting individuals with knowledge (search), connecting individuals with products, businesses with customers, drivers with destinations, etc. Google’s value (to an end user) isn’t that Google’s Search UI is dramatically better than Bing or they find products or reviews others can’t or that their directions are that much better. It’s that Google makes better connections via their rich and ever expanding collection of information that we provide and Google stores while using these tools.

Google figured out long ago that capturing this data was important so if someone typed “pizza” from a PC Google might show pizza delivery results while someone searching for “pizza” on a mobile device may want to find dine-in restaurants. This connection relevancy is driven by you and me based upon the data we give Google and they store.

Back to the Google Voice Search announcement. Voice recognition is important to many areas of technology from in-vehicle commands, to Call Center IVR to the Xbox 360, and frankly, voice recognition has a long way to go when you consider the differences that occur in speech patterns given different ages, languages and dialects. Imagine all the voice snippets Google can amass and imagine how they can leverage this data when someone searches for “pizza”. It is only a matter of time until Google has the best speech recognition repository in the world which Google can use to make more connections.

Exactly how much does Google make a year to help businesses connect to customers? Try 97% of $23 Billion. Yes, 97% of Google’s revenue in 2009 was based upon advertising revenue. When 97% of your revenue comes from one area, that is not part of your business, that *is* your business. While Google’s revenue did increase from $6 Billion in 2005 to over $23 Billion in 2009, the percentage attributed to advertising is relatively static.

What does any of this have to do with Android not being the best mobile OS? While Google invented another data gathering portal (and a good one) Apple is betting the future of the company on iOS which runs the iPhone, iPad & iPod. It might be a bit unfair to call Android a “data gathering portal” but when 97% of your business is founded on a certain business model, my bet is Android will be extended in a direction that suits Google’s main objective and innovations and investments in the mobile platform will take a back seat.

It will take years for this to play out, but think about this...if mobile is a “fad” (which it clearly is not) which company would be hurt the most if the mobile market vaporized? Google, Microsoft, Apple? I can’t imagine Apple going back to just the Mac and iTunes, I can however, imagine Google moving on after Android and Microsoft moving on after Windows Phone 7.

Maybe I am looking at this from the wrong perspective but I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Android Eats Apple Photo

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