Google Chairman, Eric Schmidt today made the bold statement to renowned yay-Applers All Things Digital that the defining fight of the tech industry today is Android vs Apple and the only players who now matter are Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook. When it was pointed out he forgot Microsoft, Schmidt said this wasn’t a mistake.
I believe it is.
If we discount for a minute that Facebook is a serious player in the world of IT and will remain so (highly debatable, as their share price plummets every day), let’s look at the exclusion of Microsoft from the list of serious players and what this says about Google’s mindset on this issue.
It’s no secret that Microsoft have utterly failed to make significant roads into the mobile market place. Windows Phone 7 has approximately no marketshare (ok they have like 5% or so) and this has actually gone down over the last year. It’s also no secret that Microsoft have failed to gain any semblance of “cool” and that they’re also managing to drag Nokia down with them. It’s not even a secret that nearly everyone who looks at the new Windows 8 interface-formally-known-as-Metro doesn’t like it. However this isn’t the whole story.
Google’s enjoying fantastic success with Android right now – and why shouldn’t they: it’s the best phone OS there is right now. iOS is static and hasn’t improved since 2007 and Windows Phone 7: well, while reviewers all kind of like it, it basically has no apps and no one cares about it. Google develops more and more functionality and features for Android all the time and ties it in better and better with their services.
However what really ties you to Android? Really? Gmail? Nope – Gmail is going to be available anywhere. Youtube? Not likely. Google Apps? No – they already run fine on Windows. Content? Unlikely there, as well. I have bought maybe 2 books and a couple paid apps from Google Play and that’s not an uncommon story. Besides, I have GDrive on my Windows PC and I’m aware of methods to run Android apps on Windows, if I was desperate. In any case, many smartphone apps simply provide functionality PCs already have.
And this is the key point. Google doesn’t really care what OS you use at the end of the day, as long as you’re using their services. They’ll even service iPhone users. Google’s in it for the clicks.
What I don’t think Google are taking into account (or at least not publicly talking about) is what’s going to happen when I can go out and buy an Intel based Windows 8 tablet or even phone – and then run every single Windows application I care to on it. Seriously stop and think about this for a minute. I mean every Windows app you have. Ok, Call Of Duty is going to suck on a single core Motorola iRAZR but give it 12 months and try again. By then, things could have gotten very interesting.
If Microsoft do this right, it’s going to be game changing – and right now, Google doesn’t have an answer for it, that I can see.
Why would I buy a laptop or a PC for my staff ever again if I could buy them a single tablet – or even pocket sized phone – that just connects to a dock or cable and voila - it’s now a fully fledged PC, running all my corporate software, legacy or otherwise on a full sized monitor with keyboard and mouse.
All the apps that matter to most users (and virtually all businesses) can be run on Windows just fine, thanks (in fact most exclusively run on Windows). So why have an Android tablet and an Android phone, plus a Windows laptop and / or PC. Why not just have the one device to rule them all? At the very least, Windows 8 stands poised to decimate Android tablet sales overnight. As I mentioned in my Microsoft Office article, running genuine productivity software on a tablet is still something of a rarity, while Microsoft’s Surface Tablet is the first tablet device that’s aiming at exactly this market, first and foremost.
Apple is years away from having things this tightly integrated and even if they could get there tomorrow, the corporate world wouldn’t care because they can’t run their legacy applications. Google’s even further away than Apple. Microsoft is releasing exactly this product this in less than two weeks.
The reality is, for many home users, this isn’t going to matter immediately (it may over time, however). Apple will be partially shielded by iTunes and the enormous amount of content people have purchased through it and tied to their iDevices (although much of iTunes also runs on Windows). Google doesn’t have this level of content based shielding yet and unless Eric Schmidt is playing coy in his interview at All Things Digital, it shows a startling lack of insight in the upper management of Google which might well allow Microsoft to make a very serious comeback.