Android Honeycomb: is Google shooting itself in the foot?

  • motorola • samsung • personal • xoom • analysis • froyo • gingerbread • android • honeycomb
  • 420 words

This video is great! Yes, quality wise is quite poor, it looks like the first movies from Pixar. But it’s quite amusing and “teasing”. Take a second to watch it:

Definitely, Motorola is looking better and better at every new product (even though their market share is still ridiculously small). This video, with the whole set of products presented at CES 2011, like Atrix 4G and Xoom, is sign that they are ready to fight and fight hard.

Good for you Moto!

But, what I’m wondering about is the role of Google’s Android in all this.

Google is happily supporting multiple hardware manufacturers, giving them a very good, solid, reliable, flexible and customizable OS. It’s a BIG DEAL. And it’s looking like a convergence is happening there. Different brands are all going for the green robot: now and fast. From my point of view, it’s great and expected: there was huge need for a modern (really modern! - yes, I’m looking at you Symbian) OS, that companies could take and make a phone out of it.

What’s concerning is the Google’s move between 2.2 “Froyo” & 2.3 “Gingerbread”, and Android v3.0 “Honeycomb”. Why? Because it’s destabilising. In a good and, for manufacturers, in a bad way.

Take Samsung: Galaxy Tab sales have been “small” and “uninteresting”, market wise. But THAT product is actually the first Android Tablet. Why did it fail? Because it was Android-made-for-smartphones. Very true and… very sad for who actually spent the money.

But now “Honeycomb” is coming. It’s great, it’s for tablet and all that. Super-duper for gadgets-addict, but what about Samsung, that built a product doomed to failure?

Most probably, it has been a “Samsung choice” to take what was “available” from Google and make a Tablet out of it. I’m pretty sure Google mentioned them that “they were working on a specific version for tablets”. But Samsung made the mistake of building it anyway.

The question is: now, how can Samsung (and other manufacturers) feel confident with Android? How are they going to decide which version to pick? And when? Should they all depend on Google’s word/work, and build their products only when Google says it’s ready? Maybe yes, but are they happy to do so? Isn’t this too much of a cross-company business dependency? That sounds bad to me…

I’m sure working for Google MUST BE GREAT, but trying to imagine the pressure coming from phone manufacturers, it must be a great deal of pain.

PS Samsung Galaxy should be updated to Honeycomb!