When was the last time you used android mobile? If you are a smartphone user I can speak with about 81% accuracy that you have been using your android smartphone today.
Amazing isn’t it. Of course you might have X reasons to use your android OS based phone. But the major reason most of OEMs ( original equipment manufacturers e.g. Samsung, Sony, HTC etc.) prefer to use android is the simple rule, they can use android and that too for free.( I guess money mostly dictates the major decisions in a profit seeking company.)
I can practically sometime guess, what OEM managers of their mobile divisions must be discussing before switching to Android.
Mr. X: “So have you heard of new operating system that Google announced yesterday. It will be great for us.”
Mr. Y: “Why do you think so?”
Mr. X: “I thought so because it’s damn free and open source and so we can even change it any damn thing we want.”
Mr. Y: “That seems too good to be true. What’s the catch here?”
Mr. X: “There is no catch, at-least none that I know of.”
Mr. Y: “Ok lets verify it then, Mr Z can you look for details of Android and if its as good as X is saying, then lets shift our devices to android. Lets try with one or two models and if people like it we will totally shift on it.“
And actually the OS was cool back then. Wait a minute, let me start from very beginning and tell you story of android.
Apple in January, 2007 came out with iPhone. It was a secret that caught the world off guard. People weren’t thinking of something that huge coming.Google has always tried to be in forefront of innovation, they were designing their own phone, but Apple’s announcement blew their mind.Even Eric Schmidt Google’s x-CEO and board member of Apple was not sure when iPhone will be released
Then they did, what Microsoft did to Apple 25 years ago, and bring their own OS into the market just 11 months later on November 5, 2007, instead of the ugly phone they previously planned.
Thus Apple was ditched again by their friend. And this move of Google was kind of declaration of a war between Apple and Google, and it made Jobs felt cheated by Schmidt, Page and Larry.
Google just made the deal sweeter( at least it seemed so to people) for its adopters than its predecessor( Microsoft) did, on whose footsteps it was treading, by making its OS free and open source, a move aimed to ruthlessly destroy its opponent than to play a fair game. Making OS open source and still maintained and supported by Google was a great facade back then. Soon enough, percentage of android OS grew and Google started having second thoughts on the move of opening its Andoid source code and probably after some time, they must have definitely questioning their previous move and thought “have we opened something to give away that was so valuable to us in the first place”. This probably triggered their damage controlling mode. So they did two things,
First step was developing propriety source stuff like Google Mobile Service APIs( commonly known as GMS APIs). These APIs provide a software layer which provides APIs that integrate with Google-provided services, among others
which are easier to use but only work on original android source code and not its fork. This was designed such, so that any forking of android is not feasible (like Amazon did for its Kindle) and it can extract favors from device manufactures either in terms of hefty fees for using android or by forcing their branding logo on their devices, neat I must say.
The second way to capture was to replace open sourced apps with closed source apps, providing better user experience and slowly ceasing support of their open source counterparts. Example of apps being axed were mail, maps, web browser, SMS messenger and latest one was camera their latest branch-out. Correspondingly they added propriety code for google store, google search, gmail, chrome, google maps, google hangouts, etc So Google is now bring just the vanilla flavored apps back again. Now this move makes one question what is the real motive of Google, and if you are smart (which you obviously are because you found my blog :) ) you will start realizing that game is not extracting small chunks of money, it is something bigger and you are definitely on the right track. Any thing which is closed source has back hooks to analytics and Google today is a giant because of huge analytics it owns.
So what’s in for the future. Google is nice position where smart phone familiarity means android. It is same as saying for a normal user the OS on PC is windows. Probably to change the user habits will be a great deal which will be a risk OEMs might not wanna take. On the other hand OEMs do want differentiation. So they have two options they might shift to new OS like Microsoft Mobile OS, Tizen, Ubuntu OS, Firefox OS, etc. completely or they might shift few models on new OS
and for models with Android operating systems , ask companies which provide them differentiation ( like Cube26 ) to help them create their own apps.
Disclaimer: I am a co-founder of Cube26. So usage of name of Cube26 is just an example, as I know Cube26 works to provide differentiation to OEMs, there might be other companies like Cube26. Any statement or derived meaning does not point to specific person, company or incident, unless I have pointed that specifically.