Android Microsoft: Strange Mobile Extremes

April 3, 2011

The birds are singing. The sap is running. And the pundits are feeling their digital oats. Navigate to “Android Is Destroying Everyone, Especially RIM — iPhone Dead In Water.” What’s remarkable about this write up is that it, in a way, is as wild and crazy as the mid tier consulting firms’ prognostications that Microsoft’s Windows phone will dominate the mobile market. For a representative look at this assertion, point your browser at “ABI Research: Android will have 45% of the Smartphone market share by 2016.” I find the extremes fascinating not because the predictions are probably incorrect but for the motives that trigger such statements.

Here’s a snippet from the dead in water write up:

The Android gains matter because technology platform markets tend to standardize around a single dominant platform (see Windows in PCs, Facebook in social, Google in search). And the more dominant the platform becomes, the more valuable it becomes and the harder it becomes to dislodge. The network effect kicks in, and developers building products designed to work with the platform devote more and more of their energy to the platform. The reward for building and working with other platforms, meanwhile, drops, and gradually developers stop developing for them.

The thought that galloped through my mind was that Google is about search. Android is a vector for search. The only hitch in the git along is Google management. In a perfect world, Google’s management would deftly steer Android forward, avoiding the telco reefs and regulatory riptides, ducking below deck to avoid the hail of Android’s fragmenting platform, and cashing in on the applications marketplace.


Google versus Microsoft fighting in the open. What happens if there is a sniper with a clear shot at the combatants? Source:

For Microsoft and Nokia, the challenge is similar. There is the management “thing”, the software update “thing”, and the execution “thing.”

With Android a winner in one pundit’s view and Microsoft the victor in another consultant’s view, what could go wrong? Good question and one that is ignored for purposes of generating clicks and reputation enhancement via online methods.

My short list of challenges for both Google and Microsoft includes:

  • Proving that both companies can succeed without coming apart at the seams. What do I mean? Neither Google nor Microsoft has its management ducks in a row. Both companies are quite similar and appear to have difficulty focusing resources and making money outside their quite different money making workhorses: ads for Google and desktop applications for Microsoft. The stress of creating another winner that generates substantial revenue is likely to break fragile management methods at both companies. Internecine warfare may be underway at both firms. The management shift at Google and the calls for the ouster of Mr. Ballmer are not to be ignored.
  • Apple and RIM may be marginalized, but I am not sure that these companies are down for the count. Apple seems to be chugging along. RIM, despite its stand up comic reputation, has some enterprise adherents. A third party, not on the pundits’ radar, could swoop in and cut a deal or enter into some other agreement. In the aftermath of a third party move, Google and Microsoft might face a competitor for which neither firm has prepared. What type of firm might make such a play? Candidates range from investment banks, foreign owned entities, or even a player which now seems to be on the periphery of the mobile phone business. Surprise can be a disruptor.

  • Google and Microsoft have been targets of regulatory action. Google may be able to dodge today’s legal challenges. Microsoft seems to be in a legal safe harbor. However, global plans for mobile domination involve more than the business friendly United States. A problem is one or more countries could create a problem that may not be easily contained. Examples range from big countries like China and India to a federation of countries like the European Union.
  • Developer backlash is another factor. Both Google and Microsoft assert that developers love their platforms. There are valid reasons for this confidence. But what happens if Apple or even RIM makes a change in its developer policies? For some pundits, the idea of Apple’s walled garden opening its doors or RIM’s in house bias changing is not worth considering. Maybe. But with some key hires and a few good ideas, these two firms might become more disruptive.
  • The assertions of the pundits who see one victor seem to be quite focused on the US market. Going forward, is the US market going to be the big dog? Google and Microsoft are global companies, but both are dipped in red, white and blue. What was in good taste last season may leave buyers cold in the next fashion market.

Bottom line: Great fun reading about extremes. The problem is that the variables are numerous and their interaction complex. With Google’s open source Android becoming closed and Microsoft’s Windows 7 Phone unable to update across devices, there are loud signals of challenges right now. Forget tomorrow. There won’t be one unless the here and now are managed.  I can’t worry too much about next month or next year, when tomorrow is an uncertainty.

Stephen E Arnold, April 3, 2011



2 Responses to “Android Microsoft: Strange Mobile Extremes”

  1. Android Microsoft: Strange Mobile Extremes : Beyond Search | Mobile Marketing Site on April 3rd, 2011 2:25 pm

    […] Windows phone will dominate the mobile market. For a representative look at this … mobile search – Google Blog Search This entry was posted in Mobile Marketing and tagged Android, Beyond, Extremes, Microsoft, […]

  2. Android Microsoft: Strange Mobile Extremes : Beyond Search | Android News Blog on April 6th, 2011 12:43 am

    […] Read this article: Android Microsoft: Strange Mobile Extremes : Beyond Search […]

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