Some titles are controversial and are meant to make people react. Gizmodo just published an nice opinion about Google and Android, somehow predicting the death of Android brand. And if you look at Android from a business point of view, paying attention to every details, you know they may be right.
Android had succeeded to become the most popular mobile system, taking 70 % of mobile system market shares at the end 2012. Is that good for the mobile industry ? Certainly not for the manufacturers. Samsung is the leading manufacturer and everybody knows thy are providing among the best Android Phones. Do you remember their campaign when the iPhone 5 came out ? Here it is on the right. That is a Galaxy SIII, is it phone running Android ? Yes it is, as you can see on the 12th line of its features. That is the only reference to Android there. Not that it is made with Google, not that you have access to Google Play, nothing. That is a Samsung Phone full of nice features brought by Samsung, that is what the customer must remember.
So, just as the article pointed out, Android is nearly invisible when it comes to Samsung devices. But for Google, those devices are not running Android. Just ask Vic Gundotra, he used a Samsung Galasy SIII last summer, and after publishing a photo on Google+, he commented:
Android based not Android. Android is what is published by Google, the system is designed for their Nexus branded devices. Other manufacturers does not use Android.
Ok, so what about the Nexus devices ? Just take a look at the Nexus 4 page. You can search for Android, it appears only 6 times at the bottom of the page.
So yes, Android as a brand is disappearing even for Google as now, the Nexus has become Google’s devices brand just as the Galaxy is for Samsung. For Gizmodo, having two brands is confusing the customer. Which brands ? Google, or Nexus ? Isn’t it good for Google that the customer knows that whatever device he gets, he gets an device running Android ?
At this point, Google may have to face several problems with Android. First, when we hear about an Android device, we expect to find Google services on it. But devices like the Kindle fire from Amazon is running Android, but they have no access to Google Play or other Google services. Amazon is also burying the system name deep bellow their own user interface. Does it bothers Amazon customers ? Obviously not. Does it bothers developers ? Neither. Developers do read the documentation (they do, right ? ) and know that Kindle Fire are based on Android. Kindle users simply don’t care as they are buying an Amazon device.
Second, we know that the worst problem of Android devices is the manufacturer upgrade. How can Google push his best up to date feature when more than half of the devices out there are still running a 3 years old Android version ? Not exposing the operating system may be a way to point out the lack of upgrades from the manufacturers.
Finally, Google does have his own vision of what an Android powered device is, and that is the Nexus. They need to push that idea, not to be pointed out to what other manufacturers are doing.
So who wants an Android anymore ? Geeks and developers. Basic customers don’t really care as long they find the services they are looking for. Google needed to promote Android, they needed the manufacturers support. Today, as they have 70% of market shares, they do not need to convince anymore. The Android brand may fade away from the customers, it will remain known by those who need it, just like Symbian was.
Now, we just need to see what the Mobile World Congress will unveil, starting next monday.