Google's Android ambition is to reshape the mobile industry, report says

Google's Android, will it be a success or has it already failed?

A new study says Google faces big challenges in making its Android handset software stack a success.

But the biggest challenge may simply be the size and sweep of Google's ambition: Android is nothing less than an attempt to reshape the essential relationships, the very character, of the mobile industry, according to the authors of "Google Android and the Wireless Ecosystem: Will the Mobile Future be Google's Future?"

Android, announced in November, is an effort to crystallise a new set of relationships among network operators, content providers, platform vendors and handset makers, replacing the relationships that today define an inherently dysfunctional industry, according to the study's chief author, Philip Sugai.

Google's bet is that as the mobile Internet becomes more attractive, it will reap advertising revenues from mobile search and search-based services.

To achieve this ambitious goal, Sugai says, Google has to enlist the enthusiastic cooperation of these groups, convincing them that the success of the Android ecosystem will directly benefit all of them to the degree that they cooperate in making that ecosystem successful. The creation of the Android-focused Open Handset Alliance, now with over 30 members, is a first step in that process.

One especially intriguing observation is Sugai's speculation on the motive for Google's decision to bid for a spectrum licence in the upcoming 700MHz spectrum auction. "We predict that Google will succeed in acquiring a spectrum licence, and to use this to 'convince' [wireless] operators of the value of mobile innovation, either through partnerships or direct competition."

Specific challenges facing Google

There are specific challenges Google must overcome to reshape the mobile ecosystem. Some are basic but essential, like enlisting the enthusiasm of, and supporting, Linux mobile developers, winning their support of a common open software stack for a mobile phone operating system and development environment. Others are more systemic: coming up with a viable model to compensate content developers for their work, and convincing wireless network operators to share revenues with these developers.

And Google's time is limited, according to the study. "If Google fails [to win Linux developer backing] by mid-2008, Android will never achieve the critical mass necessary to compete with Windows Mobile and Symbian [platforms]," the report concludes.

The 55-page analysis was released this week, co-published by Mind Commerce, a technology research and consulting firm, and the Mobile Consumer Lab at the International University of Japan (IUJ). A summary of key findings is available, but the report itself has to be purchased via the Mind Commerce site. Sugai is the principal author, with contributions by a handful of his graduate students.

The report describes the "mobile value system" that dominates most markets today, including the United States, as one in which the handset maker plays the central role. With the network operator and content provider, all three see the phone subscriber as "their" customer, and all three focus on extracting the maximum value from that subscriber. For example, "Network operators have become focused on their own revenue gains, significantly limiting the amount of revenues shared back with content providers, which has seriously undermined innovation [in mobile content and services]," according to the report.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Cox

Network World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?