This week Google released its latest smartphone, the Pixel, to mixed reviews. Controlling the most popular mobile operating system, Android, isn’t enough for the company.
As Microsoft found, just supplying the operating systems for smartphones isn’t enough to influence the market. Apple, along with Nokia and Blackberry before them, showed that the path to both controlling the segment and being profitable relies on having devices designed for their software.
Given the Pixel’s price point, it’s unclear how well it will do against the iPhone, Samsung’s models or the plethora of Chinese devices but for all the Android ecosystem’s players, having its controlling owner running in opposition to them can’t be comforting.
Again though Microsoft’s experience is instructive, and encouraging, for the broader Android community as Microsoft’s attempts to push out Windows CE devices failed dismally. For Google to be successful where Microsoft failed would require a degree of corporate discipline the search engine giant is not renown for.
In the Windows ecosystem, Microsoft strength was licensing and controlling access to the operating system. Android’s strength in the smartphone world is that Google doesn’t have the same veto power. To be able to exercise control over the market, Google needs a big device share.
Ultimately though the success of the Google Pixel smartphone will depend on how many users will adopt it. It may be time for another round of smartphone subsidy wars.