10 Ways Google Can Defend Its Android Turf Against Apple iPhone

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-03-17 Print this article Print

News Analysis: As the rhetoric battle between Google and Apple heats up, the search giant is showing that it will fight to defend its Android mobile OS from any legal or marketing attacks from Apple. We take a look at 10 ways Google can defend its Android turf and take on Apple in the mobile market.

The battle between Apple and Google continues to heat up. Recently, Tim Bray, a prominent former Sun Microsystems software developer, recently joined Google's Android mobile OS team. The new hire wasted no time publicly criticizing Apple's stance in the mobile world. Bray said he plans to use his new position to prove that Apple's strategy in the mobile market is all wrong. He believes that Apple is attempting to control the space and manage a "sterile" environment where developers can't truly express themselves through their applications.

Bray's comments join a growing number of contentious issues that have emerged lately between the two companies. Nowhere is that friction more evident than in the mobile market. Google has done a relatively fine job of mimicking what Apple has done, but Android is still far behind the iPhone. But that doesn't mean that it's willing to give up. And it certainly doesn't mean that it's willing to hold back. It seems clearer than ever that Google plans to defend its Android turf and show the world that its way might be the best way.

Here's how:

1. Talk freedom

One of the major issues facing Apple's App Store is its draconian policies. Apple has gone out of its way to remove anything and everything that might be even remotely considered offensive or suspect. It's understandable to some extent, since the company wants to maintain a particular image. But if Google wants to steal some market share from Google, the company can stick to Bray's rhetoric about freedom. It can coax developers to its side by making them aware that Google won't stifle their creative voice. And as Apple has shown, the better the apps, the better the sales.

2. Talk open

Google has hitched its future to open source. It's a smart strategy. Open-source software is quickly becoming an increasingly coveted solution in both the enterprise and consumer circles. It also underscores Google's desire to be viewed as the "good guy" in a market where the competition keeps everything closed off. Apple is one such company. If Google can make that an issue with the mainstream, it could capitalize heavily on the iPhone's closed-off software. Now it just needs to figure out how to do it.

3. Stick to software

Google has little desire to break into the hardware game in the mobile market. Even its Nexus One smartphone was built by HTC. Google has decided that it wants to take on Apple and solidify its position in the market by offering software to vendors, rather than hardware to a single carrier. That means more Android phones will hit store shelves. And it also means that there's even more competition for Apple to worry about.

4. Beat the iPhone where possible

Google knows that it can't necessarily compete with the iPhone on every level. Apple's device is well-built and well-protected, thanks to all the patent applications the company has filed. But wherever possible, Google needs to find ways to improve upon iPhone OS. Microsoft has done a fine job of it with Windows Phone 7 Series, but now it's Google's turn. The iPhone isn't a perfect device. Google needs to remember that.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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