News Analysis: Google's Android platform is highly popular around the world. But the search giant has some issues it needs to resolve to solidify its leadership position in the mobile OS market.
Google's mobile business has been performing quite well for the
company. The search giant's Android operating system is easily besting
all other competitors around the world; a host of vendors are lining up
to work with Google; and most analysts would agree that over the next
several years, it will be the search giant that will lead all others in
total mobile software market share.
But for all the good progress at Google, there are also several major
issues with the company's mobile division that it needs to address in
the coming months and years. From its trouble with lawsuits to
continued fragmentation in the marketplace, there's no clear way for
Google to fully insulate itself from the multiple threats its mobile
division will have to contend with in the coming years.
Read on to find out more about Google's mobile troubles and how those
issues are affecting the company's ability to strengthen its leadership
position in the mobile OS marketplace.
1. It's losing on patents
Arguably Google's biggest threat in the mobile industry right now is
its patent portfolio. The search giant's patents pale in comparison to
those of Apple, RIM, and countless other companies, putting it at risk
of continued litigation. To help bolster its portfolio, Google recently bought 1,000 patents from IBM
The company also tried to acquire Nortel patents, but failed. Looking
ahead, Google must continue to buy patents, or it could be in deep
2. Lawsuits galore
Google and its Android partners have been hit hard by lawsuits. The
search giant is currently being sued by Oracle over claims that Android
violates some of the company's patents. Android vendors, including
Motorola, Barnes & Noble and HTC, among others, have also been
sued. If Google and its vendor partners lose some judgments, it could
prove extremely damaging for the search giant's mobile future.
3. Vendor quality is a mixed bag
Looking around the mobile space, there are several Android handsets that have proved attractive to consumers, led by the Samsung Galaxy S II smartphone
However, there are still a host of devices that those same folks won't
find so appealing, including the LG Vortex and Motorola Citrus, among
others. Simply put, Android handset quality is a bit of a mixed bag
right now. And considering Apple continues to deliver compelling
devices to consumers, Google is at a disadvantage. The time has come
for Google to make more demands on its handset partners to ensure the
design and quality of Android handsets are top-notch across the board.
It's best for every stakeholder.
4. It still hasn't sold consumers on tablets
When the Motorola Xoom launched, some believed that Google would
finally make inroads in the tablet space. But after that device failed,
due mainly to a less-than-stellar Android 3.0 Honeycomb installation,
it was back to the drawing board for the search giant. Now with Android
3.1 running on the Galaxy Tab 10.1, things have gotten better, but
they're still not where they need to be. Consumers still prefer the
iPad over all other tablets and if that continues, Google's mobile
business won't grow as robustly as it could.