Quick. Name the world’s most popular operating system. If you said Windows, you’ll be forgiven for the oversight. In a sense, the world’s most popular– as defined by actual usage, not popularity– is Linux, which makes up the basis of Android, which runs on nearly 2-billion devices worldwide; a number which dwarfs Windows, OS X, iOS, Unix and most others combined.
Google’s Android is the reason for such ubiquity, but not the only reason as Linux has a firm hold on education, corporate enterprise, and the burgeoning Internet of Things. With all that name recognition– Android, not Google– why doesn’t Google have its own smartphone brand?
Wait. What? What’s Nexus? It’s a Google brand that’s been floating around since 2009 at some kind of hardware reference for Android cellphone makers, but a brand that just hasn’t done all that much, despite Google doling it out to various manufacturer partners.
It’s time for Google to put up or shut up. If Android is so great, then Google should do a full Microsoft and design and manufacture their own Google branded smartphones and tablets.
Microsoft did it with the Surface line of tablet notebook hybrids, and even went so far as to create its own branded notebook, the Surface Book. If Microsoft can do it and garner some positive reviews and good press, what’s keeping Google from showing the world how a real smartphone should be made?
It’s one thing for Google to partner with different cell phone manufacturers to build and sell a hardware reference model that doesn’t sell very well, versus designing, building, and selling a Google branded smartphone that competes with the so-called partners than use Google’s Android.
What could go wrong?
This scenario brings up an interesting list of questions.
For all the high and might technology the company touts in a steady stream of press releases, what does Google sell? Have you ever bought anything from Google? Have you ever talked to a Google employee? Sure, you use Google applications but they’re all free. Would you pay for Google hardware?
The closest Google seems to have come so far to actual Google-branded hardware is the Apple TV competitor, Google Chromecast. No, Nest doesn’t count because it’s not Google-branded, and the company bought it anyway. Nexus? Nope. No Google brand. Google Car? Nope. Doesn’t exist. You can’t buy one. Google Glass? That didn’t work out so well. Chromebook Pixel? Sorry. That’s a Chrome brand.
The list of Google hardware is extensive but few items carry the Google brand and there’s nothing that competes with Microsoft’s Surface line or Apple’s iPhone or iPad, let alone the Mac.
For the most part, Google’s customers are advertisers, not hardware buyers. If you use Google’s applications, then that makes you a user, and since Google makes money on advertising and user data, you’re actually part of the product, not a customer.
There’s an ugly fact that floats around Silicon Valley. Google is the anti-Apple, the tech company that wants to be what it’s not, a technology company. Google (also known as Alphabet, the corporate holding company, is an entity worth a few hundred billion dollars that doesn’t really have much to sell to the buying public.
It’s time for Google to learn something about how retail sales actually works. It’s time to put up or shut up.