Android: Surround and Seep

April 6, 2009

I have been following the discussion of Google and its “operating system” since 2002.

My newsreader this fine Monday, April 6, 2009, is chock full of discussions about Google on notebooks, Google on mobile devices, and Google in personal computers. I liked the flurry of comments about the New York Times’s revelation that T-Mobile was going to use Google for its home devices. You can read that bit of news here. Let’s see that means that the GOOG is supporting its own crowd of cronies, Apple’s iPhone, and now T-Mobile. Looks like the Google is getting some traction in the mobile space. Quite a revelation.

Then there is the flurry of write ups about Hewlett Packard’s thinking about Android for its netbooks. The CNet write up is a pretty good one on this topic, You can read Marguerite Reardon’s “HP Considers Google Android for Netbooks” here. Hmm. I wonder if anyone realizes that when installing Chrome, the GOOG has its operating hooks ready for whatever the user wants to do?

In my research for my Google studies, I have quite a bit of contradictory information in my files. On one side of the fence are the Googlers who insist that the company does not have an operating system. The company’s spokespeople are correct. Google has Linux, wrappers, and code shims. The software in use at Google is dynamic and it is not suited for installation by my father on his home computer. On the other hand, Google has figured out how to make Python, JavaScript, and other languages jump through digital hoops. With these software components of which I cannot keep track, Google:

  • Delivers its virtual machine technology via containers
  • Enables offline access to Gmail and soon other Google Apps
  • Creates a digital cocoon in which it can perform such magic as deliver ads regardless of where the user goes or what device he/she uses.

Is this an operating system? It depends. If you are Microsoft, Google’s approach sure seems to be headed that direction. If you are a Googler, this collection of features is little more than extensions of the Google “as is” computing environment–what I call the real Googleplex of one million servers, fancy Dan engineering, and proprietary system sand methods galore.

The point that most of the pundits, mavens, gurus, and Google watchers overlook is the broader strategy the GOOG is using. I dug into this approach in detail in my Google Version 2.0, a deep dive into some of Google’s more current innovations. You can read about that study here. Check out the subtitle too.

In a nutshell, Google’s strategy is to use the Googleplex of its “as is” infrastructure as the wrapper. The Android software to the ill fated Web Accelerator just tap into the mothership. What happens is that Google surrounds the users and competitors and allows its services and features to seep into crack in the existing market sectors. Surround and seep. Quite different from other competitors’ strategies in my opinion.

You can read more about how this works in my forthcoming Google: A Digital Gutenberg study due out later this month. More information about that study is here.


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