I’ve watched Chrome with much interest over the years. While lately I’ve been generally harsh on a number of Google products, there’s still no doubt in my mind that when it comes to the browser — at least on the desktop — Google is winning. That’s a big part of why Chrome OS fascinates me.
Chrome OS is Google taking their best product and broadening its reach. The aim isn’t just to erase the stain that is Internet Explorer (which sure seems to be working), it’s to go after one of Microsoft’s legs: Windows. So far, it doesn’t appear to be working.
All we’ve heard for the past year-plus is how Android is killing it. The phones are taking over the world. And that’s true — from a unit perspective. But from an actual business perspective, things are decidedly murkier. Google says they’re making a good amount of money as a result of Android, but it’s clearly nothing compared to their main business. The carriers are doing well too — but carriers always do well. Being overly greedy tends to have this effect. As for the OEMs… well, that’s a different story.
The three largest Android OEMs are Samsung, HTC, and Motorola. Samsung just posted record quarterly profit. So far so good. But HTC just reported its first profit drop in two years. And Motorola just warned that its 4th quarter sales were going to miss as well. When you have to warn ahead of actual earnings, that’s a very bad sign.
So one of the three top Android OEMs is doing well. The other two are doing poorly. This matters because of what it means for the future.
Buried under the massive Kindle news is something arguably more important: Microsoft just got Samsung to pay them to use Android.
This means that two of the major Android OEMs (Samsung and HTC) now pay Microsoft to use the “free” Android OS. The third (Motorola) was just bought by Google.
Think about that for a second.
Samsung was really the last remaining hope in the Android OEM ecosystem. Now that they’ve agreed that they have to pay Microsoft, it’s going to be hard for others to argue that they shouldn’t have to.
And that’s genius. If you decide to use Windows Phone, Microsoft wins because you pay them a licensing fee. If you decide to use Android, Microsoft wins because you pay them a licensing fee.
This will force more vendors to consider Windows Phone because, why not? They’re paying Microsoft either way.
More broadly: what does this mean for companies like Amazon, which now have their own version of Android? Will they too pay the licensing fee?
After all, it sure looks like the Kindle Fire is about to become the Android tablet.
What a day for Android. It was just pushed behind the scenes as the thing that powers that awesome, cheap Amazon Kindle tablet. And made into that thing you pay Microsoft to use.