Google has launched Andriod, a Linux based open source software stack for mobile phones, and has unveiled the Open Handset Alliance, a collection of handset makers who plan to use Andriod on their handsets.
A few days ago Google also launched OpenSocial, an API for social networking sites and widgets, and assembled a bunch of Social Networking sites as “partners”.
Does this seem like the same strategy? I am calling it the “Unite and Conquer” strategy. Bring together a set of key competitors of the behemoths and hope to flood the market with Google “controlled” (atleast, influenced) software. In OpenSocial’s case it was Facebook and Microsoft. In Android’s case, its Nokia, Apple and Microsoft.
There is also a volume play here. Google rides on the volumes of its alliance partners – for distribution, marketing and customer acquisition – that gives a huge headstart. In a way Google is playing the “the ones who made the most money during the Gold Rush were the ones who sold the tools” game. Though it plays the opensource card, monetization being the long term strategy cannot be denied.
With Android, Google is also building a bigger eco-system and customer base for its products. Search, Gmail, Orkut, Google Docs, Picasa, Google Maps are all going to get a burst of volume when these handsets start shipping. The integrated experience that Google can provide will be a killer differentiator. Though Microsoft has a lot of products that it ports to its mobile platform, the super-klunky, desktop-like approach to Windows Mobile UI is a big downside. Apple does not have the range of products. If Google can combine its product base with a richness of usability and integration, it might have the killer combination. Add all the third party apps it is talking about and you could have a lethal customer magnet.
Google is definitely onto a new business model, one that takes someone with money, size and influence to pull off.
Anyone want to predict Google OpenMusic Alliance?