The Android Brand Is Dying. And Google Is The One Killing It.
A really smart piece by Fabrizio Capobianco for Gizmodo, in which he writes about the Android brand being killed off…by none other than Google. It’s something that has happened quietly and with little fanfare but it’s one of Google’s best moves in mobile yet.
At Mobile World Congress last year, Android was everywhere. The Android space was the biggest of all. It was all about Android and a bit about the hardware manufacturers.
This year, Android will be absent at MWC 2013. No space, no booth. Gone.
Since the launch of Android, Google has always been about marketing to app developers. It’s what they know best and it’s what they’re so damn good at. And frankly, nothing else matters for a new platform until the practitioners and the developers have widely adopted it. Dev platforms are nothing a LOB will ever mandate…or care about. So Google has spent an exorbitant amount of time and money in marketing the viability of the platform to devs while leaving the consumer marketing largely to its OEM partners.
And that’s been a big problem for Google as it continues to battle Apple for device dominance in the post-PC era.
In spite of their large marketshare (by unit sales), Android phones are still widely perceived as a lower-cost, not-nearly-as-good alternative to iPhones and iPads. Their BOM has to be lower so that they can be subsidized down to free or 2-for-1 deals by the carriers. Even as recently as Q4 2012, the old iPhone 4S still outsold the sexiest phone powered Android, Samsung’s Galaxy S3. Yes, during the Christmas shopping season.
When people wanted a great deal on a smartphone, they bought an Android phone. When people wanted the best smartphone, they bought an iPhone. That’s a branding issue, not a technology one.
Motorola still has a series of Android phones out there called Droid. For the longest time, I couldn’t get it out of my head that it was a Motorola phone and not one built by Google. Ask your average consumer what was the last smartphone that Google built…Nexus? NexusOne? Nexus7? Droid?? The fragmentation wasn’t just with the hardware but it was also with the competing brands in the ecosystem. It’s just so fucking confusing.
They want Google to be the brand, not Android.
Risky business? I am not sure. Who cares about Android? Developers. Only developers.
Even if you water down the brand, developers will know it. It does not make a difference. You are not going to lose developers because you are de-emphasizing the brand.
Exactly. Now that Google has won critical mass with mobile devs, they can start migrating the Android brand into an ingredient brand, like Intel did with the ‘Intel Inside’ campaigns for PC OEMs. It’s still important to consumers but not as a master brand. Google will position it as a key feature.
Most importantly here, Google can now focus on developing their vertically integrated product strategy. Mobile devices that’s Google, from the ground up. OS, hardware, and finally the consumer brand.
Great move. Timing couldn’t be any better. Being the ‘open’ player differentiated them but it’s now time to be the better player.