Is Google Playing OEM Favorites with Android?
Google’s Android ecosystem seems to be growing fast right now, and more manufacturers–even former Windows Mobile makers–are joining the fray, but at what costs? The OS–whose mascot is a cute robot–seems to be playing favorites, releasing major revision updates to a short exclusivity period to one device initially and then pushing out those updates to general population of manufacturers.
As history dictates, Android 1.0 debuted for an exclusivity period on the HTC T-Mobile G1; Android 1.5 made the HTC Hero a star of that OS revision for a short time before other devices like the Samsung Moment on Sprint appeared; and now Android 2.0 with the mapping app is now Motorola’s exclusive for the Verizon Wireless Motorola Droid.
The reason that manufacturers aren’t responding? According to TechCrunch’s CrunchGear, “handset manufacturers are deathly afraid of Google.” The site speculates that Google’s strategy with short periods of exclusivity for major Android OS revisions helps to propel the platform forward, creating buzz and hype around a carrier flagship product (G1 on T-Mobile, Hero on Sprint, and Droid on Verizon Wireless) that will attract consumers.
On the flip side of the coin, this could create negative impacts to the smartphone world. Google’s strategy could hurt consumers in the long run, much like how the iPhone’s exclusivity to AT&T in the US may lure consumers to a network that they may not have chosen had it not been for the popular device. In the long-term, growth could stagnate and Google could become complacent as the OS matures.
At this point, however, at least the exclusivity periods are short, and eventually all OEMs utilizing Android will eventually have access to the latest Android OS revision. It’s still Google’s domain and all players have to play by the giant’s rules.