Is Google targeting Microsoft in the hardware department now too?

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Last week, Googlerola brought us a frying-pan-to-the-face shocker – The Moto G. While the Moto G isn’t exactly a spanker on the spec sheet, the price – starting at $179 off contract – cannot be ignored. It’s a really cheap phone. Well played, Google.

Google has become known as Microsoft’s nemesis over the past year or so. Perhaps you see it as the other way around. Either way, they’re not sending each other Christmas cards. Google services remain one of the most crucial missing components from the Windows Phone experience. Third party apps exist, but lets do us all a favor and just not go there.

Not-so-injured parties

Now, MotoGoogle has rolled out the highly customizable and highly cheap Moto G to bring a mostly pure Android experience for a sub-$200 price point. Despite coming from “separate” companies, the Nexus 5 and Moto G can potentially sew up quite a large chunk of the market with offerings originating from Google. But who is this going to affect the most?

Perhaps Samsung has the most to lose. Samsung is dominating the world smartphone market already. Pretty much anything out there running Android and worth talking about already has a Samsung sticker on it. But the GS4 and the Note III are both really high end hardware while the Nexus 5 is really good hardware. In all honesty, the Nexus 5 is simply not as good as the Samsung flagships, and therefore the Nexus 5 doesn’t really threaten them in any way.

The situation is similar with HTC, LG, and Sony. If you’re looking for high end, premium smartphone, the Nexus 5 is good, but not great. What makes the Nexus 5 great is the price tag. So if you want a premium device, whatever the cost, the Nexus 5 is off the menu. Again, I’m not dissing the Nexus 5 here. It’s a great phone because it’s $350. Otherwise it’s simply a pretty darn good phone.

So as it stands, the big four OEM’s in the Android space have little to lose to GoogaRola’s (I’m going to find the right combo-name eventually – bear with me) offerings. So who then? Well, if you read the headline, you know where I’m going with this.

lumia-520The real target

Windows Phone has long brought high quality devices for lox costs. I wrote a piece last week about Windows Phone’s propensity for pricing even their flagship phones at low prices. But now, Google, by way of LG and Motorola can really, really cut into Windows Phone’s territory with its own low cost offerings.

Of course the Moto G doesn’t touch the Lumia 520’s sub-$100 price tag, but with the extra cash comes quite a few bonuses – LED Flash, bigger screen, higher PPI, and more RAM, to name a few. The major advantage of the Lumia 520 is the expandable storage via memory card…and being half the cost. But Google is seriously throwing down here with these two offerings. It’s almost a shame. If the major Android OEMs are not going to be affected by the Nexus 5 and the Moto G as Windows Phone is, that doesn’t bode well for the smartphone market overall. At the risk of inciting the fan boys, allow me to be the first to say, “Oh goody, more Android.”

moto-g-priceThe plot thickens

Now, I don’t necessarily think that Google sat down in an abandoned apartment across from the corporate offices of Microsoft with a telescope and several empty pizza boxes and began plotting Microsoft’s downfall. It really does make business sense to bring high quality, low cost hardware to the market, especially the oft referenced, and highly coveted “emerging markets”. The fact that Windows Phone is currently making major inroads in those same markets, and the Google’s phones could compromise that is a happy bonus for Google. The thinking here is, “Well gee, if we can tap into a previously untapped resource and spank Microsoft’s britches in the process, then where do we sign up?” Google is in this to make money after all.

Microsoft, already facing stiff competition in the mobile smartphone space, really needs to step up its game now. With Google competing with Microsoft of both the software side and the hardware side, Microsoft could find itself losing ground very quickly in the near future. The next move really will have to come from Redmond and it had better be a good one. The Moto G is a slap across the face with a glove. Microsoft needs to answer that challenge with an iron gauntlet of its own.

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About The Author
Adam Doud
Adam joined the tech world after watching Jon Rubenstein demo the most epic phone ever at CES 2009. He is webOS enthusiast, Windows Phone fan, and Android skeptic. He loves the outdoors, is an avid Geocacher, Cubs/Blackhawks fan, and family man living in Sweet Home Chicago, where he STILL hosts monthly webOS meetups (Don’t call it a comeback!). He can be found tweeting all things tech as @DeadTechnology, or chi-town sports at @oneminutecubs.Read more about Adam Doud!