The Wall Street Journal uncovered something that isn't exactly a bombshell in the wake of Google's announcement last week that it would hire more than 6,200 people in 2011: Many of them will be mobile-application developers. The Journal noted:
"Google Inc. plans to hire dozens of software developers to create applications for smartphones and other mobile devices, people familiar with the matter said, a new strategy aimed partly at helping Google counter Apple in one of high tech's hottest sectors."
Saying that Google wants to hire more mobile experts out of the 6,200 new hires is as obvious as saying it wants to hire experts with social-software expertise. That is, both observations deserve a big, collective "duh."
But duh isn't that same as banal folks. These are exciting times, with a new platform war emerging between Google and Apple that those who watched the Microsoft vs. Apple Mac war unfold could only dream of.
Considering that Apple and Verizon Wireless have teamed to begin selling the iPhone 4 Feb. 10, you can bet your bottom dollar Google wants to take steps to ensure Android's star continues to rise.
Already the leading U.S. smartphone platform, since December, Android is now the world's top smartphone platform, according to Canalys.
But it's not just about maintaining smartphone stats, it's about building better software applications. Apple developers have built more than 300,000 applications for that platform, compared with more than 130,000 for Android.
Moreover, Google wants to diversify its current Android applications, which are largely adaptations of existing software such as Google Search and Google Maps.
The Journal said gaming applications and social location-based services such as Foursquare could be in the running, as Benjamin Ling, who helped create Google Checkout, is recruiting.
Google already beat Apple to NFC (Near-Field Communication) technology in Android, but that could be a big hit on the iPhone this summer, particularly when combined with Apple's iTunes store.
Apple has sold something like 75 million or so iPhones. Imagine if it put NFC capabilities in consumers' hands, enabling the phones to turn into little wallets.
That could spell trouble for Google, which wants to do the same thing: keep users in its platform by allowing them to purchase goods with Android-based gadgets.
Wake up and smell the platform war folks! Or should I say, wars. Google is also trying to fight Facebook on the social-platform front, but I would argue it spent so much time trying to get Android out the door three years ago it lost sight of Facebook.
That could go down as one of Google's major missteps. Perhaps it cedes the desktop platform to Facebook (everyone searches there instead of Google), but keeps the mantle of top mobile platform from Apple.