Would Android Matter As Much Without Google?

Mar 31, 2013
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Android is the dominant force in the mobile operating system landscape. And now more than ever, people are finding that the operating system is not only a strong competitor to iOS, but in some respects, might just be even better.

Now, I’m sure that Apple fans won’t want to hear such a thing. After all, for years, they’ve been supporting Apple’s iOS platform and to hear that Android could possibly come with features that surpass those of iOS is anathema to them. But perhaps it’s time that we all agree that, at the very least, Android and iOS are in a neck-and-neck battle for mobile operating system dominance.

But how did Android get here? The fact is, Android wasn’t even close to iOS in terms of featureset when it launched. But over the last several years, as more vendors brought the operating system to their devices, it gained on Apple. And now, it’s far and away the most dominant operating system in the land.

Although many reasons for Android’s dominance can be drawn, and many of those are valid, I just don’t think any of them are as important or as noteworthy as Google’s shepherding of the platform. Without Google, Android wouldn’t be what it is today.

[aquote]An industry created by startups is now dominated by major companies[/aquote]

If we’ve learned anything of the technology industry over the last few years, it’s that big companies determine the fate of most products. Save for a few cool Kickstarter ideas, the vast majority of successful products today come from major companies. It’s unfortunate that an industry created by startups is now so dominated by major companies, but it’s the reality. And we must begrudgingly accept that.

If an unknown company trying to deliver a new operating system to mobile vendors had delivered Android to the marketplace, it’s unlikely that it would have succeeded. At its launch, few tech media outlets would have picked up the news because of the company’s lack of notoriety, and vendors would have been suspect of such a small firm. A perfect storm would have developed that would have scuttled Android from the outset.

[aquote]Success was practically guaranteed[/aquote]

But with Google behind the operating system, everything is different. When a company of that size and importance in the industry delivers an operating system, people listen. And because of its clout, the company has the unique ability to sign deals with other major firms and get its operating system out to the wild in no time. Success was practically guaranteed when Google, not a small, unknown company, delivered Android.

Now, I’ll freely admit that there have been other major companies that have brought up mobile operating systems, including the company formerly known as Palm and Samsung. And those two companies watched their operating systems fall short. But that’s more about time and a desire to control the hardware-software complex than about winning the OS market. The same might be said for BlackBerry. But Google is different. And its success has proven that.

But, I want to pose this question to you: would Android be Android if not for Google? I’d agree that other major companies could have made it work, but do you think smaller firms would have, as well?

Let us know in the comments below.


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