Is Google Doomed?
As much as market share loving analysts might want to make Google look like the star of the future, Google’s actual position for mobile is very poor. Market Share lovers would point to the prevalence of Android and the vast number of apps available on the platform and the number of manufacturers supporting Android.
The only reason manufacturers support Android is because it is free, and available to all. This also means that Google in all reality does not make any money through the prevalence of the platform alone. Yes they make money from the play store, cloud services and so on but as demonstrated by Amazon, its not the only way to go with Android. Unlike iOS, Android can be forked away from Google.
If market share is an important metric, that metric reflect very poorly on Google. The mobile revenue for Google is pegged between 15% and 20% (different sources give different figures) of their revenue. Given the massive market share, this only shows that Google has done a horrible job of monetising mobile.
So what is keeping so many manufacturers tied to Android apart from the fact that it is free? In my opinion there is only one killer app that is trapping the likes of Samsung, who would love to move the Android platform as far away from Google as possible; Google Maps. None of the manufacturers have a competing mapping solution that can be at par. In reality, none of the companies competing with Google have a mapping platform which is at par with Google Maps. Apple Maps is beginning to make its move up after a disastrous launch. ‘Nokia Here’ is there and it is quite good but lost in echo of the Microsoft-Nokia deal, nobody knows when they would get their heads together and start pushing the app in earnest. There are a bunch of other solutions, but none that I see being able to compete with Google in terms of depth of coverage, availability of platform and availability of financial resources.
Every time Samsung has tried to move the Android platform away from Google in terms of design and so on, Google has thrown the Maps License on the table and strong armed them back to falling in line with Google. This has caused Samsung to pursue Tizen, which is rearing its head now. Samsung recently launched Galaxy Gear 2 with Tizen. There should be a great deal of soul searching happening at Mountain View, Samsung is the ONLY mobile manufacturer that is making profits apart from Apple, if they move to Tizen, what does that mean for Android?
In reality if you think of it, in a mobile world, all of the search of the future would be channeled through apps. In such a scenario, if I was Google, I would want to own all of the top apps used for searching restaurants, travel, locations, books, movies etc. But in reality Maps is the only mobile app that they have which is a gold standard. In all other regards the company has failed to produce a top app.
People do not really care who provides them the information on mobile as long as they get it consistently and the delivery is done in the best possible manner (Optimised for the requirement, good design, etc.).
I care two hoots if the search that I run through Siri is giving information through Wolfram Alpha or Bing or Whoever. As long as I get the relevant result, I am happy.
With apps specialising in the search, be it Zomato, Yelp, Cleartrip, Wikipedia, Fandango, Bookmyshow, etc.; these are the sources that people trust to get their information. Fewer and fewer people turn to a one size fits all kind of a solution which is what search engines are.
In this paradigm Google is not in a position of strength, far from it, they are at a place where they are not even going to be able to derive great search traffic from even Android.
The analysts in the meantime are overly optimistic about market share. If the market does not see the real picture and put Google on a correction course, would Google end up the Yahoo way?