Google Android Stumbling Blocks: 10 Issues That Can Derail Its Success

 
 
By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-07-29
 
 
 

Google Android Stumbling Blocks: 10 Issues That Can Derail Its Success


Google's Android platform couldn't be doing any better right now. Thanks to the Droid X, the software is entering more homes than ever. As stories keep coming out about the smartphone being sold out for the next week or so, consumers are starting to realize that if they want an iPhone alternative, opting for Google's mobile operating system might just be the best way to go

But with success comes responsibility. The days of trying to get close to Apple in the mobile marketplace are over. Google now needs to evaluate the market, make the right moves and continue its growth. It can only do that by providing a solution to vendors and consumers that makes good on the company's promise of doing good instead of evil.  

But there are some significant roadblocks that are currently, or soon will be, erected that could hamper Android's ability to grow. Here are the issues that could stand in the way of Android's growth.

1. Security 

Security has become a hot-button issue for Android users. Recently, an Android application was found to be collecting private information from "millions of users," which it then sent to a Website in China. The issue underscores a previous report a couple months ago that said Android apps could be harmful to users because of the access Google allows them to have to the OS. For its part, Google said that its mobile operating system is safe and users need not worry. But if security problems persist, they will worry. And that could significantly hamper the company's ability to attract customers. 

2. Apple 

Apple could be a major issue for Google going forward. Although Android OS is gaining market share and devices like the Droid X continue to sell well, Apple has tied its future to the mobile market. The last thing it wants to do is allow Google to carve out a significant portion of that market and put its own operation in danger. Look for Apple to directly target Google and do everything it can to steal Android customers. When that happens, Google will need to respond with a lasting attack or trouble will ensue. 

3. The Droid X and what else? 

The Motorola Droid X is undoubtedly a wildly popular smartphone that has helped put Android OS on the map. But where does Google and its vendor partners go from here? The Droid X is arguably the first and only Android-based smartphone to get the kind of attention that Apple has enjoyed with each new version of its iPhone. With more Android devices coming out soon, Google will need to keep that momentum going. If those products fail to capture the attention of consumers, all the hype that it has received from the Droid X will be gone. In turn, Android OS will go back to being the other operating system in the mobile space. 

4. Will Flash win the day? 

Google is betting big on Adobe's Flash. When Android 2.2 comes to every Android smartphone, users will finally have the ability to watch any online video and play any online game from the mobile Chrome browser. But if that backfires and security problems erupt, mobile Chrome crashes often or another issue arises, Google will have egg on its face. And Apple, the company that has denied access to Flash on its mobile platform, will capitalize. Flash better be a winner for Google. 

Google Needs to Focus on Security, Privacy, the Enterprise


 

5. The iPhone's enterprise push 

Google has made it abundantly clear with its latest Android OS version that the company wants to appeal more to corporate customers. Android 2.2 users will have better access to Exchange, as well as several other enterprise-related options to get more out of the open-source operating system. But Apple is also making a push for the corporate world. So far, thanks to the iPad and the iPhone, the company is doing a better job of it. If Apple continues to perform well and it realizes the immense value of the enterprise, it will do everything it can to stop Google from gaining a footing in that space. 

6. Windows Phone 7 

Windows Phone 7 is very much a wild card right now. Although Microsoft's mobile strategy is about three years late, the company still has significant influence in the corporate world. With Windows Phone 7, Microsoft will finally be delivering an operating system that can compete with the rest of the market. Google should be especially concerned with the impact Windows Phone 7 might have. Microsoft's strategy is to allow vendors to license its software and offer it on their own phones. That strategy is the same as Google's. If Microsoft's mobile operating system proves to be better for consumers and enterprise customers, all the success Google has enjoyed with its platform will be gone as vendors leave for Microsoft. It's something that Google must keep an eye on. 

7. Google's privacy problems 

Google's privacy troubles could come back to haunt its mobile platform. Over the past year, Google has been criticized for the way in which it allowed any Google user to see another person's most-contacted friends on Google Buzz. Furthermore, by collecting data from open WiFi networks with its StreetView service, some are wondering if Google isn't being as "good" as its vaunted motto states. For now, those privacy problems are being kept out of the headlines. But if they persist and the company continues to experience trouble, it might only be a matter of time before consumers think twice about buying a product from the search giant. Privacy means something to today's customers. Google must keep that in mind. 

8. Poor enterprise focus 

As mentioned, Google plans to make a significant push for the enterprise with Android 2.2. But some critics say that the company isn't doing enough. It's currently weak enterprise focus might hurt its mobile platform. It's an understandable concern. Over the past four years, Apple has consistently improved its platform to make it as enterprise-friendly as possible. And RIM's BlackBerry OS is widely considered the best enterprise software on the market. Meanwhile, Google's Android OS is just now starting to target the corporate world. Even with Exchange support, there is much more that needs to be done. It's nice to see Google target the enterprise, but if it doesn't act fast, it might be stepped over. 

9. Bad tablets 

Google's Android OS is slowly but surely making its way to tablets. The devices are mainly targeted at consumers, with the exception of the Cisco Cius, which is designed for corporate customers. There is a lot riding on those Android tablets. If they're successful, Google will have another platform with which to target customers. But if they fail and consumers find out that the same operating system is running in smartphones, it could be disastrous for Google. Android tablets must be a success-or else. 

10. Google's vision 

Google's vision is all over the map right now. On one hand, the company knows that it's a provider of a mobile solution. But on the other hand, it sees that mobile solution as a way to turn a profit through its advertising. Every company needs a business model, and Google's certainly seems to work fine, but if the company spends too much of its time worrying about advertising and not enough time considering the implications of that, it will have trouble. Mobile products are only as good as their latest refresh. If Google neglects Android, it will suffer. There is no debating that. 


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