Is Google's Star Android Licensee Falling?

Posted by Kirhat | Thursday, July 21, 2016 | | 0 comments »

Samsung Android M
There is an interesting dynamics happening withing the most successful (perhaps "only successful") Android licensee: Samsung. While it struggles to remain relevant in the face of iPhone 6, Samsung has also fought with Google for control of the software powering its smartphones as sales of its high end, profitable models have collapsed.

Google has tried to make Android J, K and L better for Google, at the expense of its licensees. Android M packs in additional efforts to wrestle control away from Samsung and pigeonhole its licensees into basic device makers reminiscent of the profitless PC makers who served Microsoft's interests a decade or two ago.

However, Google has done nothing to really help its licensees take back any territory from Apple. Instead, Android licensees have battled among themselves and against Google, creating fractions and incompatibilities while introducing their own ways to do things, often in direct competition with Google.

In fact, while the tech media overall has worked hard to propagate Google's official version of events—such as portraying China's Xiaomi as being a grave threat to Apple—the reality is that Xiaomi's success comes at Google's expense. Every cheap Xiaomi phone replaces Google Play, Gmail, Google+ and Google Ads with non-Google services that Google can't compete against.

Of the two largest markets for smartphones on earth, Google is completely locked out of the larger one that's growing the fastest. Coincidently, Apple is now one of the very few Western companies to be successful at all in China, and Apple has been extremely successful.

Even outside of China, Android is doing very little to back up Google's revenues or earnings. Mobile ads are paying less even as Google's desktop ad market plateaus as users increasingly go mobile.

Further, Google's tentacles in iOS are getting cut off and replaced with default iOS services ranging from Siri search to Apple's own Maps, iCloud, iMessage and even initiatives like iAd. Apple is getting better at services far faster and more effectively than Google is making any inroads into selling hardware.

Even worse for Google, Samsung is now actively pushing its own Android competitor Tizen, initially on its "smartwatches" but soon on its own phones, an effort it has been working on since at least 2011, according to documents that surfaced during its patent infringement trial.


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