Google, Mobile, and Money: Can We Discern a Pattern, Connect Some Dots

May 31, 2011

I woke up early this morning mostly because the crows decided to have a Post Memorial Day celebration here in the hollow near Harrod’s Creek. Beautiful birds. Often their discourse reminds me of data about the success of Android, the lack of success at RIM, and the slow start Microsoft Phone 7 Windows Mobile edition has had. And Apple? Well, even the crows have iPhones in Kentucky.

What I found interesting was more data about the success/failure of Android and Apple in the mobile game. “Nielsen: Android’s Lead Over iOS May Have Stopped Growing” reports that Android is popular “but no more than it was in March [2011].” You can work through the numbers which are based on Nielsen’s survey results. Note that Nielsen is hedging its bets on its results. My experience is that the results are often driven by the needs of marketing and sales and not so much what I want to know.


I want to connect the dots, but I am not sure what’s happening. Source:

Here’s the passage I noted on my trusty iPad:

After having raced to the No. 1 spot in less than a year — climbing from a 15% share in June 2010 to 37% in March 2011 — Google held steady at 36% in the three month period from Feb. to April 2011. Apple also held steady. Its market share over the past three months weighed in at 26% — within a few points of where it’s been in Nielsen’s surveys for more than a year. Even RIM’s BlackBerry may have started to slow its long decline, settling in at 22% to 23%.

What did these data suggest to me:

  1. The lousy economy and market fatigue may have kicked in. I hate my mobile device, but the hassle of making a switch is just not what I want as a chubby, irascible, old consumer
  2. The “survey data” may be inconclusive like most Web and mobile data are unless one is looking at actual log files compiled by those in the know; namely, the telco outfits monitoring for billing purposes. Statistical sampling has long been “good enough” but when the numbers clump, I am skeptical.
  3. The charts are nifty, but where the rubber meets the road is cold, hard cash. Where is a little table showing which of the three giants is collecting the most coin from their operating systems and closely associated revenue streams?

What do I know? I read in “Disrupt Backstage Pass: Google’s Marissa Mayer Talks Serendipity (And Dodges The Apple Question)” this interesting passage between a journalist and Marissa Mayer, Google:

Mayer says that the Wi-Fi hotspot database that Google has been building out will help with this, because it will improve over time. This is one reason why Google is going to be pushing users to explicitly check-in using Latitude — in addition to providing a new channel to engage with consumers, these check-ins also help Google improve its database. The system may not know your exact GPS coordinates, but if if someone with the similar signals previously checked in at In-N-Out Burger, there’s a good chance that’s where you are. Mayer likens the system to the powerful spell checker that often pops up in Google search.

I wonder if the closeness of the race (if the Nielsen data are anywhere near accurate) and Google’s decision to start charging for certain information in a Google mobile ad. See Important Changes to Clicks on Directions for AdWords Location Extensions.”

Beyond that, PR and uncertainty about what a dot is and where one connects it. I wonder if a thin Number 2 pencil line can be drawn between revenue from Android, Google mobile advertising, and this new monetization policy? The Apple dots are easy to connect: high price, hot product, software ecosystem, and lots of revenue. And RIM? Erasure?

Stephen E Arnold, May 31, 2011


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