The Godfather of Android is out at Google. Rather, Andy Rubin is out as head of Android, but still wandering around Google’s hallowed halls looking for work.
Speculation is running rampant and ranges across the spectrum from a big shakeup within Google’s executive ranks to Rubin scratching his serial entrepreneurial itch and the need to do something new.
Whatever the reason for Rubin’s departure from the Android family, one thing is crystal clear. Android is hurting Google
Wait. Say what?
When Apple’s Benedict Arnold, also known as Eric Schmidt, then CEO of Google and member of Apple’s board of directors, got wind of the iPhone’s interface, Google’s executives went into scramble mode and promoted the tiny Android project to Top Dawg in an effort to stop what they believed would be an Apple juggernaut or blitzkrieg through the smartphone industry.
The idea was to give away an iPhone copy cat OS to smartphone makers, thereby disrupting Apple’s march to dominance.
Maybe that strategy worked and maybe it didn’t. The jury is still out, but Apple owns about 70-percent of the industry’s profits, and Samsung owns the rest (and doesn’t like to talk about Android at all), making it a two horse race, and one of the horses is not Google.
In fact, Google has spent and lost many billions of dollars to move Android into a competitive position against Apple, Microsoft, Nokia, and BlackBerry. As the score stands now, Apple is in a competitive race with Samsung, while Microsoft, Nokia, BlackBerry, and friends are nowhere to be seen in market share or profitability.
Where is Android now that the Godfather of the OS has moved on? Android is an albatross, an anchor that weighs down the company’s financials, and doesn’t contribute to the top line or bottom line. Most of Google’s mobile advertising revenue comes from Apple’s iOS devices, not Android smartphones.
The three largest users of Android– Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD (a Frankendroid version of Android), Samsung’s Galaxy line (the company is too proud to mention Android by name), and cheap smartphone knockoffs in China which don’t use Google at all– don’t contribute much of anything to Google’s top or bottom line. Even Motorola acts more like an anchor that cannot be pulled up than a part of Google’s money machine.
Despite the slogan from the blogosphere, Android is not winning, it’s losing to the tune of billions of dollars, and Google’s executives are working diligently to clean up the house. Maybe that’s why Rubin put his baby up for adoption.
Business, for all the risks that companies and executives take, is all about math. Sooner or later, the math has to add up, the beans have to be counted, otherwise, drastic changes in strategy take place, starting first with an accounting of who owns what. Google is cleaning house because most of the projects of recent years are a drain on the company’s one-trick pony revenue stream– advertising. Pretty much everything else has failed to generate more revenue, or additional profits.
Face it. Android is no longer in Google’s control, having been wrestled away by Amazon, Samsung, Chinese smartphone makers, and stomped on hard by Apple’s revenue and profit machine. How long before Google combines and perhaps shutters both Android OS and Chrome OS to stop the bleeding?