It only makes sense, considering that the Nexus 4 seems to lack LTE to make carriers happy, who would demand many more design + software changes to Google’s “pure” Android experience in exchange for LTE.
So, in the most Google-like of ways, they decided that if they couldn’t actually work with someone, they may as well go it their own way. Unfortunately, they are going to have to lose everything they built - especially their big market share - because the status quo demands that Google not have more control over Android devices than carriers do.
Why take on such a risky move? Because Google made a gambit that turned out to be a mistake. They decided that they would cede control in exchange for market share. Now that they’ve kicked butts at that, and it’s turning out to really only be profitable for Samsung, and it’s turning out to be kind of terrifyingly bad for Google’s project of refining and controlling the Android experience, they’ve had a change of heart. They want the control that would let them build an incredible Android device. And to do that, they need power.
So they’re thinking of building their own network to generate that clout. But they’ve got one big problem: while this network is getting off the ground, it will force them to cut their ties with the existing carriers. Adoption rates will plummet. Revenues for Android device manufacturers will plummet. Availability of Android devices will probably also plummet.
Which leaves Google with what clout, exactly? You might think that they’ve got a ton of existing Android users, and they must be valuable! Yeah, read: tons of customers locked into existing contracts, who are more device-agnostic than they are provider-agnostic. They will leave Android phones before they leave their existing wireless providers. Churn is about 0.84–2% per year depending on the carrier, but device replacements happen at a rate of closer to 50% per year, thanks to the 2-year contract. So, again, carriers have all the clout, and Google’s market share is a pyrrhic victory - a number that doesn’t matter to anyone’s bottom line.
Which really does underscore why they’d be building their own network: Android is essentially worthless to Google as it currently exists. By building their own network, where they’d eventually build up some sort of sticky subscriber base, and where they’d have the freedom to create a better Android phone, they would add a lot of value to the Android ecosystem.
This is ultimately a sign that Google’s moving away from having market share as a goal, and closer to having profitability as a goal. It’s a sign that Apple is winning in all the ways that matter, because Google is now pursuing their model. And it’s a model that Google is going to have to pay dearly for, despite all they’ve already spent on Android. They’re playing a new game now, and it’s not an easy one to win at.
I have transcribed my exact, verbal reaction to this particular quote:
It has been a long day, so that may have been a touch mean. But it goes against everything that Apple stands for, and also against everything that has made Apple successful: total control over the user experience can lead to the sorts of profits that only Apple can achieve, but focusing instead on selling content doesn’t really make the same impact.
Obviously people rip off Apple. It is not news. It’s been going on forever. It didn’t just coincide with the Apple vs. Samsung trial, as Gruber and Marco seem to want to believe. We don’t need to mention it in every article, nor will we. Nor is there a rule that we must. This industry is full of theft, both large and small. I could tell you that Apple lifted its laptop keyboard designs from Sony, and its iOS notifications from Android and… aw, but you don’t want to go down that path. Do you? And you certainly don’t need me to mention it every time I cover their products, right?
Agreed with the spirit of Josh Topolsky’s post, and I’m open to the fact that The Verge will mention these things in the forthcoming product reviews, but he closes with a really weak argument. When the products obviously look ridiculously similar (and not just on a feature level but on a “the whole damn thing looks identical” level), I’d have to say that journalistic integrity demands that you do mention it. Trying to conflate big and small thefts so that you just don’t mention the glaringly obvious facts about why a product exists (to piggyback on Apple’s design and aesthetic) just seems sneaky.
So please don’t mention how Apple stole iOS notifications every time you cover an Apple product. Please do mention when it looks, to anyone ever, that another company steals a whole entire product and sells it as their own. When you fail to do that, it really does seem as though you’re more worried about “being fair” to organizations who don’t deserve it than you are interested in being truthful.