Google's Mobile Business Growth: 10 Issues It Must Resolve

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 trouble.

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.

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...