With Microsoft's recent moves, Google should be shitting its pants.
"One should never underestimate the will to live."
Microsoft's recent moves these past weeks have gotten mixed reviews, but one thing's for sure, Microsoft can't be passed along as "irrelevant" any longer by Apple, Amazon.com and definitely not Google.
Tech pundits focused on Cortana and Windows Phone 8.1, while the real news from the event that should have Google scrambling is that Redmond has jettisoned the licensing fees for Windows Phone 8.1 and unified the application experiences for developers and users alike. This is huge, and a major shift in strategy for Microsoft.It could be viewed as the company "waving the white flag" in trying to monetize Windows Phone through licensing, but I see it as Microsoft getting aggressive in taking back their lost market share, relevance and, most of all, developers.
The changes in this strategy are already starting to take hold. Microsoft announced a flurry of new hardware partners, including Micromax and Ucall. It's obvious that the real market share (and, thus, relevance in the eyes of developers) is in the low-end and mid-range markets and the 40% of the worlds' population that have never had a smartphone.
But, Android has a massive market share, they can't just be displace liked that. Of course they can! Just ask HP.
But, Android has mindshare. Mindshare doesn't just go away. I'm not saying Android's mindshare would disappear (not overnight, at least) but it doesn't take an economist well versed in capitalism to figure out that companies look out for their business interest first and foremost, not mindshare. Windows Phone fits right into many ODMs' business interest, really. How do the business interests of ODMs' match up with Windows Phone? Simple!
- Android is open source so many ODMs' port Android at their own risk knowing that if Android infringed on any patents, the ODMs take the flack. Going with Windows Phone could save ODMs hundreds of thousands or maybe millions in legal fees while Microsoft picks any legal complaints.
- With Android, apps and services are separate from the OS, and certification can be a long, drawn out process. With Windows Phone, ODMs can license Windows Phone once and they get everything: Microsoft's apps and services and the app store and all the other bells and whistles (including patents).
- Android is fragmented, and many people never get updates.to the latest version of Android. I've seen Android crap out on some of the latest, most top of the line hardware. A sad state of affairs really.
- Android is incredibly insecure. 97% of all mobile malware target Android, so Windows Phone, iOS and any other mobile OS you could pull out of your ass only accounts for 3% of mobile malware. In fact, the most sophisticated piece of Android malware ever has already infected millions of Android devices. Not to mention, every time I go to certain websites on an Android device, I have popup ads flashing me at every turn. A really, really sad state of affairs.
All of these things are extremely important. If Android continues to leave a bad taste in peoples' mouth, they may not want to ever use it again. But, the thing is, while Microsoft and Apple control the experiences of their platforms, Google doesn't, so it matter not how much Google dolls up Android, ODMs will just come in and shit all over it. The true nature of open source.
And the #1 cliché. But, Android has apps. Windows Phone doesn't. I recently visited a country that could be called an "emerging market" (Brazil), and while I was there, I was talking to a local. She was using a phone that ran Symbian. I asked her why she'd chosen a phone like that instead of a hot, new smartphone. She said she didn't care about apps or any of that. She just wants a phone that works. Windows Phone works. iOS works. Symbian works, sometimes. All this to say that in emerging markets, not nearly as much emphasis is put on apps as in markets like the United States and the United Kingdom.
Microsoft is coming out of a lost decade under Steve Ballmer in an Empire Strikes Back type of way. The signs are encouraging and I look forward to more competition from Microsoft. Android got to where it is by being a free option to the iPhone. With Microsoft taking a similar approach to the problem now, Mountain View should be scared shitless and scrambling right now. MG Siegler was wrong, Microsoft really is the fifth horseman.
(I refuse to put a TL;DR. Read it fully, or don't)