Google Getting Into Hardware: 10 Reasons It's a Bad Idea

NEWS ANALYSIS: Google is reportedly eyeing launching a tablet, and could very well deliver other hardware products in the future. Here’s why the search engine giant should stay out of the hardware business.

When Google first started as a search company, it wasn€™t immediately clear what the company would become. Its founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, had an idea to make it much easier for Web users to find desired sites, and they set out to achieve that while not being €œevil.€ It was a concept that worked, and it helped Google become one of the most dominant online companies the world has seen.

That dominance has aided Google in expanding far beyond search and advertising. Now, the company is delivering an operating system for mobile devices, a cloud-based operating system for lightweight notebooks, and has acquired Motorola Mobility. Meanwhile, it€™s trying to control the living room with Google TV, and it has cornered the online video market with YouTube.

Now, though, there€™s speculation that Google might eventually launch hardware of its own. The company could deliver tablets, and with Motorola Mobility€™s help, smartphones. In just the last two days, Google has received approval from both U.S. and European regulators for its Motorola deal.

Beyond Motorola, there€™s even talk of Google launching its own home-entertainment device to take on the Apple TV.

What in the world is the search giant thinking? Hardware is not where it should be competing. Here are several reasons Google should stick to what it knows best.

1. It confuses customers

Unfortunately for Google, the search company is, well, just that: a search company. Consumers today aren€™t expecting Google to launch new hardware or come up with an HDTV; today€™s consumers expect firms like Apple and Samsung to do that. Google should stick with search, Android and advertising, and not try to confuse customers with hardware.

2. Taking on Apple? Not a good idea

By getting into the hardware business, Google would need to compete with Apple on its own turf. Some Google fans might not think that€™s a big deal, since Android has handily beaten iOS. But that€™s software. Hardware is where Apple makes its money€”and it€™s a place Google won€™t want to compete in with the iPhone maker.

3. It hurts vendor relations

If Google ever delivers the tablet that has been rumored for months or gets too close with Motorola Mobility and delivers smartphones, the search giant could hurt vendor relations. Upon doing so, it could watch some of its key partners, including Samsung and HTC, work closely with other operating systems, like Samsung€™s own Bada OS or Microsoft Windows Phone. Google must be like Microsoft and keep to software. It€™s the only way to keep vendor relations intact.

4. More patent issues come into play

Currently, the majority of patent lawsuits ravaging the mobile market revolve around Android. Although Google developed Android, it€™s only getting hit by one lawsuit from Oracle. However, if the search giant gets into mobile hardware, it won€™t be long before it enters Microsoft€™s and Apple€™s cross hairs. For now, being a hardware maker in the mobile market means fielding lawsuit after lawsuit from tech giants. And Google just doesn€™t need that.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...