The Great Android Food-Fight

Ars posted a good tech review of the new Google-branded tablet, the Nexus 7. Normally, this type of piece would be just right but this time the real story isn’t there.

I don’t think this story gets interesting until you go into Horace Emulation. Then it’s great!

This is especially true now that credible tech writers are giving it a thumbs up.

Its great because Google is working hard to splinter its own platform! Their basic plan is breaking apart. They’re flummoxed, as someone once put it.

Ancient History

I think their original plan was to block Microsoft from dominating the cell phone market (this was before the iPhone). If Microsoft did, they really would block Google from their mobile platform and pimp their own services.

Google’s master plan was to undercut Microsoft and be more attractive to the OEMs.

Google succeeded in getting the cell phone market share that they were hoping for, but not the profit share.

They also didn’t expect the iPad at all. They don’t have anything like the tablet market share that they would like, much less profit share.

The OEMs found that Android tablets only attracted lawyers, not customers.

The Android Tablet Mess

Now the bad news: As of now, iPad has nearly all the tablet-based commerce and tablets now account for more internet commerce than cell phones!

But Google’s market share is in cell phones, not tablets!!! Google achieved their dominance in the wrong part of the mobile market! They couldn’t have predicted this before the existence of the iPhone, but that’s how Google’s big aventure is playing out!

The story isn’t going well for Google.

A Plot Twist..

Google expected that their OEMs would all be obedient little clones and be grateful for this free and open OS that Google gave them.

BUT then...

mean old Amazon subverted “open” to herd Kindle Fire commerce to the Amazon store rather than to Google advertisers!

So Google decided that they needed to head off the Amazon threat at all costs (everyone chant, “Android is winning”).

So they went for Amazon’s price point, not iPad’s! They just gotta herd what little tablet-ecommerce they have back to their customers (e.g., their advertisers, not end-users).

Meanwhile, Android OEMs who had innocently planned to sell their tablets at a profit now find themselves undercut by Google’s own product!

Their last hope was that the Nexus 7 would suck. If it sucked, they could argue that their tablets are better, but at a price.

They already failed against iPad at a for-profit price point; now they need to compete with another Android tablet that is sold at no margin (remember: “Android is winning”).

This is very different from what Microsoft is doing with their tablets. First, we don’t even know the Surface’s price points but they’ve announced that pricing will be competitive with the OEMs — not under them! Second, we don’t even know whether either Surface is any good. The reporters weren’t even permitted a brief hands on at the rollout.

But we do know that Google intends to undercut the OEMs who want to sell their tablets at a profit and we now know that it is a solid Android tablet.

Android is so messed up.

New Horizons in Android Fragmentation

In short, there’s a new dimension in which the Android market is fragmented. The original dimension was fragmentation in versions of Android; the second is the business models. Most OEMs want to sell their tablets at a profit but both Google and Amazon are satisfied to sell the hardware as a loss leader and make their money on subsequent sales.

BTW, here is link to a good Horace emulator at Roughly Drafted.