Google’s Many Mobile Platforms

After a couple days of working through Apple’s infamous App Store bureaucracy, the latest version of Google Mobile App is available. The feature everyone is raving about is, of course, the ability to lift the phone to your ear and simply say what you are searching for. I’ve installed it on my iPhone, and it is pretty slick.

One of the more interesting articles I came across in the days preceding the release, was on Technologizer, which asked How Long Does Google Baby the iPhone?

I am, however, fascinated by one thing about it: The fact that it’s debuting on the iPhone. It’s the second interesting Google app to do so in recent weeks. (Google Earth made its mobile premiere on the iPhone back in late October.) The iPhone is a terrific platform for mobile apps, so there’d be nothing noteworthy about this except for one thing: Google has its own terrific platform for mobile apps, Android.

The answer to the question, in my opinion, is simple: as long as iPhone is a first-tier mobile platform (read: forever).

To Google, the only platform that matters is the web. That is one of the key aspects to their success, and it is ingrained deeply in their culture. So much so, that any software platform developed by Google is done so under the primary goal of advancing the web itself.

Android as a mobile operating system is, clearly, the most overt platform play from Google to date. However, if mere in-house control of a platform exerted influence on support for third-party platforms, Google’s web strategy would begin to decay.

I suspect Google realizes this tendency, which is one of the reasons why Android is completely open source. No company, not even Google, its primary creator, can claim complete control. The act of open sourcing the platform created a level playing field, perhaps most importantly within Google itself.

Contrast this to Microsoft, where support for any non-Microsoft technologies is met with overwhelming resistance. Through their subsidiary Tellme, Microsoft had the capability to beat Google to the iPhone with this technology, and gain ground in the mobile search arena. That didn’t happen.

Microsoft sees the web running on top of its platform. Google sees platforms running on top of the web. Advantage: Google.


Lonna Hanson
November 20, 2008 at 10:58 AM

I enjoyed reading this. Learned a lot about Google & the iPhone.

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