Apple’s iOS runs on iPhone and iPad. Microsoft’s Windows runs on Nokia devices, and a few others (including branded tablets). BlackBerry is still hanging around, working diligently to purge itself of customers. And, there’s Google’s Android, the mobile device OS leader. Guess what? Google is about to kill off Android.
This Just Ain’t Working
In a nutshell, Android just hasn’t worked out for Google, so the company is about ready to purge itself of the money-losing project and replace it with a growing line of products running Chrome OS.
Now we know why Chrome OS still exists. It’s Google’s fail safe OS, just in case Android ran into problems. It did.
Problems? Google knows that Android infringes on intellectual property which belongs to others, hence the need to have Chrome OS as a fail safe backup.
Interestingly, Android has yet to be defeated for IP infringement, so why ditch it in favor of Chrome?
First, Google doesn’t make any money on Android, and it has cost the company about $15-billion so far (development, patents, Motorola, et al). Even the company’s valued mobile advertising effort depends upon iOS devices to make the company any profit in mobile at all.
Second, where Android makes money is on Samsung’s line of Galaxy smartphones. Every other mobile device maker using Android remains deeply in the red. That’s not good for Google, either, as the company wants to compete against Apple and Samsung with their own branded hardware.
Third, Google has lost control of Android, and can only get it back with Chrome. Amazon and a bunch of Chinese smartphone makers have forked Android into fragmentation, and with hundreds of different smartphone and tablet hardware on the market, Android doesn’t provide an attractive, unified platform for users, especially when compared to Apple’s iOS.
Finally, the math has spoken. Google has lost focus. Android, thus far, is a huge money loser for everyone involved except Samsung. Google is pushing Chrome notebooks onto the market, and at as low as $299, no one stands to make money on those devices, either. What’s the deal with these competing operating systems?
The Future Is Not Now
Here’s what I think will happen. Google will let Android languish. Development has already slowed to a snail’s pace. Meanwhile, Chrome OS notebooks and ultra books have hit the market. The tipping point will be when Google launches a Chrome OS smartphone or tablet. When that happens, you can be sure my fortune telling headline has come to pass.
That brings up one additional issue regarding fragmentation. Remember DOS on PCs back in the 1980s? It was a complicated mess with differing versions on many devices. Microsoft cleaned it up and a single DOS became the de facto standard OS until Windows demolished IBM’s OS/2.
Smartphones are the 21st century version of PCs, and fragmentation is the rule, even on devices sporting Android OS. BlackBerry. Microsoft. iOS. Firefox OS. And a dozen others. Collectively, customers don’t want that kind of fragmentation, and will migrate to what works best. Arguably, that’s iOS and Android, and cracks in Google’s flagship OS are appearing at an alarming clip.
Google’s answer to the growing fragmentation problem is Chrome OS, otherwise known as ‘more fragmentation.’ Maybe Google sees the future different than I see the future. But how do you explain the company’s desperate attempts to throw mud against the wall with dozens of products just to see what sticks? That’s not a display of vision or confidence, is it?