Ballmer: 'Google not a major mobile competitor'
Show me the Android money
Steve Ballmer has publicly belittled Google's fledgling mobile phone platform, saying the world's largest search engine ad broker is low on Microsoft's list of mobile competitors.
At an investor briefing in Sydney today, Microsoft's chief exec said Google would not have an easy time convincing handset manufacturers to adopt Android, its brand new Linux-based mobile platform.
"They've got some smart guys and hire a lot of people — blah-di-blah-di-blah," Ballmer said of his rival. "They start out way behind in a certain sense, and we'll see how they do."
Then he added "I'm not giving them a hard time" - before continuing to give them a hard time.
Because Google isn't charging for Android, Ballmer said, "they're not going to put in the same kind of investment to improve the product." Google has open sourced Android - perhaps hoping for improvement help from the outside world - but Ballmer would like to know where Google plans on making its money.
"I don't really understand their strategy...if I went to my shareholder meetings and my analyst meeting and said, 'Hey, we just launched a new product that has no revenue model — yeah, cheer for me,' I'm not sure my investors would take that very well, but that's what Google's telling their investors about Android," Ballmer said.
"If somebody thinks the formula is you give away your operating system to get search (usage), the operators are much too smart; they'll know they can still ask to be paid to carry your service."
He's much more concerned with competition from the Jesus Phone. And the CrackBerry. And Symbian. And Linux Mobile. "Google doesn't exactly bubble to the top of the list of the toughest competitors we've got going in mobile," Ballmer said. "They might some day but right now I think [they're not]."
What Ballmer doesn't realize is that Android is an effort to fragment the mobile OS market, push Google web services, and ultimately show the world more ads. But he may be right in thinking the plan won't work quite as well as Google expects it to work.
After all, HTC's inaugural Googlephone is nothing to cheer about. And with so many platforms already fighting for market share, you have to wonder if Google is much too late to the party. ®
What's even odder is that MS are not a monopoly because you can buy Mac, yet Google ARE a monopoly because there's no point going for Yahoo!.
Or people like you, only concerned about monopoly badness when it's not MS.
Personally I have to say I sit in the middle on this one. Whilst some of Steve's arguments are vaugely viable I can see that he's being very short sighted.
I don't think Googles attempts with Android are to get more people to "search" through google at all really, as pointed out I think it's about creating brand awareness but also putting something out there which ultimatley will probably be developed into a very powerful OS and like it or not knock WM. However I do have reservations, blackberry for example (in my experience looking after messaging for a large company) have an excellent platform, it's not perfect but in terms of handset stability, predictability and backend reliability it's pretty good. YES before anyone says anything I know we've seen the relay fall over a few times but actually those times are fairly limited compared with the number of times our mobile telco has randomly dropped data in our area and uptime is certainly more than our active sync users.
Is it the iPhone? Nope,, certainly not, if it had blackberry connect would it be more attractive to enterprise? - yes probably, but I'm not so sure it will compete with blackberry handsets and software, 4.5 for the 83xx series for example wraps up a lot of previous issues and whilst RIM have generally failed to do anything groundbreaking the storm is a sign of things to come...
It's a shame that Microsoft can't get Windows Mobile right, quite why they believe that medium/ent's want a bunch of devices they can't control and have no visability of hanging off the end of their network is beyond me, releasing an expesnive and poorly supported (in the handset market) BES equivilant (System Centre Mobile DM) is frankly just poor, they should have had this wrapped up a long time ago if they wanted to compete.
Personally I can see windows mobile lasting on devices, not sure if those devices will be phones and then I think that's where Google can step up the game a little, or a very creative business can step in and develop a paid version of Android that picks up where windows mobile left off.
The trouble with Microsoft it seems is that they are very polarised, some things they do are far too whacky and people fail to see where they fit in, and some things they do are so far in the past that people laugh but still go out and buy the stuff anyway, just because it's easier not to push the limits of what you are trying to do. Characters like Stevie boy don't really help their cause, but it does get them media exposure.
Android's unique advantage?
Andoid could be uniquely placed to succeed. It offers a standard platform for third party apps, unlike J2ME Java or Linux Mobile which are balkanized by implementation differences.
Also, all Android third party apps run in a memory-protected Java sandbox, unlike other platforms such as Windows, Symbian, iPhone and Blackberry, which all allow native apps. This could be crucial, because users are likely to be less tolerant of their mobile phone crashing than they are of their PC crashing.