Like many things that come out of Google’s stable, the Android App Inventor is a radical departure from the conventional. It is philosophically aligned to the Google philosophy of open innovation, crowdsourcing and empowering the user. It is a new SDK for the Android platform where there is no programming involved. It is entirely visual in approach and any user can build any application that he wants. The intent is for the user to write an application without being a software developer of sorts.
Google has perhaps decided that it cannot compete with the iPhone’s App store which currently has over 200,000 applications and a complete new ecosystem. Hence it has taken a radically different approach.
One more step in the paradigm shifts between Google and Apple. The earlier ones are written about here.
Apple has created the perfect user experience and the walled garden approach which has it’s detractors. Google has conceded that it can’t create a better user experience. Hence rather than struggle, it has taken the diametrically opposite approach. Any user who creates his own experience by writing his own application is likely to love his own experience, rather than settle for the user experience created by a software developer seems to be the underlying premise. It is thus enabling people to be creative and hence promises to be a platform for the millions, rather than just a platform for the few software developers. Google this enables creativity at an individual level.
Hence it is a philosophically a compelling value proposition. Will it be pragmatic?
All of us know that while we would like to be creative and eat our own dog food, we are also consumers and want the right application with the best user experience. As a consumer it will be more easy to buy and use and not to create and use. The process of creation also involves a lot of trial and error and more importantly failures. How long would someone persevere with the creation process when they see their friend find the right and cool application and using it is also another big issue.
My current conclusion is that while I am all for Google enabling creativity, it may not be a successful strategy.
Has anyone heard about Kin? Microsoft launched 2 mobile phones Kin One and Kin Two in an uncharacteristic low key manner and before even the word got out, it quickly withdrew the product barely 6 weeks after launch.
In the 6 weeks that the product existed, it sold 500 phones. Has anyone seen Microsoft do this with any of their products? Never !
The Kin failure is yet again one additional piece of evidence that Microsoft just doesn’t get it when it comes to consumer products other than the XBox. At least with Vista and Zune, Microsoft made some marketing efforts, but Kin got a quick burial.The courier PC which has been in development didn’t even make it to the store stupefied by iPad’s success.
Kin has an interesting past: In 2008, Microsoft had acquired a startup Danger who has built a mobile phone software business. Around the same time, Google also acquired another mobile phone startup called Android. Incidentally both Danger and Android was founded by the same founder – Andy Rubin. While Microsoft floundered, Google’s Android sells more than 130,000 units per day.
This should lead Microsoft to make do some deep soul searching.
It is time that Microsoft wakes up to a new era. It continues to comfortably extract rent from the Windows/office franchise. I think the successes of the past is proving to be the brimstone around its neck. It also seems to have lost the war for talent and developers.
Contrary to perceptions that the Nexus One is a failed product, Google actually announced in its Q1 2010 earnings report that Nexus One is meeting expectations, if not exceeding them.
Google mentioned that “driving the business (the Nexus One) to be a profitable business from the get go. and is happy with device uptake and impact it has had raising the bar showing what a Smartphone can do.”
Report from Mark Huber SVP of Engineering on Android:
Huber: We believe in open platforms.. Our efforts in mobile are a great example of this at work. Schmidt said Google is taking mobile first approach. Your Smartphone knows where you are, so this location launched near-me-now. Turns your location into the search query. New stars in search feature, you click star next to result to save it. Makes it easier to find later (from mobile device). Android and Chrome gaining lots of momentum.
Android powering 34 devices from 12 OEMs. Over 60,000 Android devices sold/activated a day. Our mantra with Android is “open”. The platform and Market. 38,000 Apps, up 70% quarter over quarter.
Now with such an apps surge, it is no surprise that Apple wants to make it difficult for developers to be in both camps – the Android camp and the iPhone camp. It is trying to rewrite history.
Today Nokia announced that it is investing $410 million to acquire full control of Symbian. It further announced that it will give the software away royalty free. In short, open source it.
Given that there are 5 players in the mobile operating system world (RIM, Apple, Palm, Microsoft and Symbian) and one emerging player (Google with Android), it seems that Nokia’s current move is aimed more at Google than anyone else. And for good reason.
With this move not only is Nokia attempting to move the elements of competition from software to handset design, it is also a means of attracting third party application developers in a way other players like Apple and Google have managed to do do.
The coming years will mean one thing — it is no longer a competing world where just the hand set manufacturers are competing with one another. It would mean a network based eco-system oriented competition. It would also be interesting to see if there would be a true open mobile platform and also see how the licensing issues change if proprietary hardware and software can be put into an Android or a Symbian phone.
Tags: Mobile phone, Nokia, Symbian, Google, open source, competition
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Google’s rise to success is predominantly based on the talent it has assembled in house and the way it has managed to use its talent. Yet, what Google did in harnessing the innovation talent outside its own employee base is unique.
Google just closed the Android Developer Challenge, which will provide $10 million in awards — no strings attached — for great mobile applications built on the Android platform. Instead of just spending $10 million in house or working with a few select developers, it has managed to find access to the best available talent on the planet with its Developer challenge program.
Increasingly, companies are using more external resources even in cutting edge high impact product development work. Dell was perhaps the first to start with their IdeaStorm project and now Google follows suit.
Tags: Dell, Google, Android, innovation, talent management, product development, strategy
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