Google, and by Google, I mean the Alphabet holding company, isn’t doing so well in its long standing effort to diversify itself away from being an advertising search engine. Google Car is nowheresville, Nest has become a disaster, Android still hasn’t provided a return on investment, and the company has begun to shutter or diminish other high profile operations that have high costs and lower-than-expected revenue.
What can Google do to shore up its sagging fortunes? Alright, everything is sagging except search engine advertising and, like always, that antiquated revenue stream makes up about 90-percent or so of everything that makes Google, uh, er, Alphabet, rich.
Google made Android open source and that made Android the world’s most used operating system. Free Android seemed like a good idea at the time, and cell phone manufacturers jumped at the chance to compete with Apple’s iPhone and that accounts for Android’s ubiquity worldwide, but nobody makes much money using Android.
There might be a legal technicality here, but Google should kill Android’s open source status and do a little more of what Microsoft has done to turn itself around the past few years. Microsoft’s cash cows have been Windows and Office, and while that hasn’t changed, the company has moved on to cloud services and a well integrated software suite and subscription for iOs and Android devices. And, importantly, Microsoft now designs and builds their own Windows PC notebooks and tablet-notebook hybrids. That change hasn’t done much for the PC industry or Microsoft’s so-called manufacturing partners, but it has worked out well for Microsoft.
Google can do the same thing.
First, pull in Android. Kill the open source status. Then, make Android available for anyone– cell phone makers, tablet makers, et al– for a price. $10 a pop for each device could bring in $10-billion in annual revenue, which is more than Google gets now for the lame Android and mobile device advertising effort, but it would get to keep that anyway.
Wait. Wouldn’t cell phone makers simply use a forked version of Android to roll their own mobile operating system and bypass the fees to Google. Yep. And Google could counteract that move by making Google Play apps only run on Google approved devices. You know, like Apple and Microsoft. The Android market might contract a bit and become more fragmented at the low end where cell phone manufacturers try to cell smartphones without Google software, but the search engine giant would make much more money, and the remaining smartphone vendors would be better equipped to do what Apple does handily.
Make more money.
Win, win, win, for everyone. Google would make more money; revenue and profits. Samsung, HTC, Sony, Lenovo, and any other former Android smartphone or tablet maker would need to get on board to get the best of Android and access to the Google Play store apps. Of course, Google would need to make sure cell phone makers adhered to a specific hardware standard for device drivers and other technical issues that now make it nearly impossible to upgrade or update an Android phone, but that would eliminate a big advantage Apple already has.
Last year, Apple and Google introduced their latest and greatest, iOS 9 and Android Marshmallow, respectively. Here we are a year later, Apple’s iOS 10 is ready to go but 90-percent of the iPhone and iPad user base has upgraded to iOS 9 and eagerly await iOS 10. Meanwhile, Android Marshmallow has barely penetrated 15-percent of the Android device user based, yet the company has shipped an upgrade, Android Nougat.
Bringing Android home could remove that problem.