What Google’s Re-Structure Means for Android?
With the announcement this week of Google’s restructuring and renaming themselves Alphabet, a lot of people in the mobile industry are wondering what this means for the Android platform, its competitors and its manufacturers.
Since 2013 Google has been a mobile first business and you’d assume this will continue with Alphabet and its various arms.
The real question is does the A in Alphabet stand for Android, and why was it not given its own autonomy as a stand-alone business?
When large organisations split into entities a variety of avenues open up, friendly competition can ensue, the smaller businesses can thrive with new found autonomy and the existing links to and support of their market leading sister companies can help the growth exponentially and provide a platform for true innovation. Many commentators are saying Alphabet is an avoidance of becoming Microsoft.
In Android’s case it’s fair to say it is a global market leader and potentially a prime candidate to be one of those stand alone businesses, however it remains in the mother ship as part of the slimmed down Google.
Whether the move will maximise Android’s market leading position is questionable. Whilst Android has a 49% market share – in the UK at least – it is unseated by a fragmented ecosystem both at the OS and handset level. Security issues and viruses are commonplace and handset manufacturers by their very nature have diluted the platform in pursuit of mass customisation with a vast array of top end and budget handsets.
Recent figures indicate that 2.6% of the phones run the Android Lollipop 5.1 version and only 15.5% run the Android Lollipop 5.0 version, this compared to iOS 8’s 85% of users. Two consequences of this fragmentation at the OS level are a poorer user experience and app store revenues per user much lower than iOS.
This could explain why Android has been kept within the main Google company umbrella. Alternatively, it could be part of a Google master plan.
Here are some possible consequences from the team at Puzzle:
– Will the slimmed down Google and Android consolidate the Android ecosystem – shoring it up as a better place for multiple handsets?
– Another possibility is that the move comes as a strong response to Microsoft’s windows 10. Google’s own apps have always been pretty exceptional and paved the way for cross device usage within chrome. Will Google and Android be looking at strengthening in that space?
– Will there be an end to acquisitions like Motorola or does Alphabet pave the way for possible acquisition of Blackberry as a foray into enterprise? (Arguably the move Microsoft should have made when they acquired Nokia) If Android did this would it open up more cross platform solutions within the enterprise sector.
– This cross device strategy could potentially help Google and Android monopolise the IoT and Connected Homes space with their new sister company Nest.
The genesis of Alphabet and Android remaining within Google is an interesting sub-plot. Without looking into a crystal ball we can of course only speculate – either way the new company structure means we’ll be watching out for what’s next.