Google Phone Android: Brand AwarenessBy Reuters - | Posted 2008-09-15 Print
Google sees Android as an open-source platform for designing mobile devices, saying it will encourage innovation by allowing outside software developers to tinker with the system and create better mobile programs and services. Industry insiders who have worked on Google's Android mobile operating system say it will struggle in the near term and will take time to match the consumer enthusiasm generated by Apple when its iPhone redefined the touch-screen phone market and greatly improved mobile Web surfing.
Another problem for Android is how to explain what it is to consumers. Unlike the iPhone, which came on the back of Apple's hugely successful iPod music player, Android is an unknown brand, even though the Google name has plenty of cache.
"People forget these things get to customers through the retail channel and marketing," said Frank Meehan, the global general manager for handsets and applications for Hong Kong telecommunications conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa Ltd.
"We operators struggle with how to market this phone. There's nothing really unique about it and we can't say it's a Google phone," said Meehan, whose company buys millions of 3G devices year.
Despite the concerns, mobile industry executives say they welcome Google's entrance as its deep pockets will help meet the increasingly high expectations of consumers for mobile services.
From a developer's perspective, Android's advantages over the iPhone or Nokia's Symbian operating system is that it is open source, which means Google is sharing its software code and making it easier for third parties to develop compatible applications.
Apple's second-generation iPhone applied the same strategy and offers more than 3,000 third-party applications through its App Store, but the company still retains some control.
"Android promises to be the most open platform for building mobile phone applications that we've seen to date because it's based on very familiar tools and technologies," said Jason Devitt, co-founder of Skydeck, a new service that will allow users to manage their cell phones over the Web.
Others hope that Google's entrance can galvanize mobile advertising, which is still in nascent stages.
"All these devices are resulting in better usage and that's what advertisers want and they're growing their spend," said Jason Spero, vice president of marketing at AdMob, a marketplace for mobile advertisers.
Google is hoping to generate revenue through its existing search advertising and related services by the addition of mobile to PC.
"Google's power comes from the freedom of choice, in terms of the component technology and services that can be laid on top," said Cheng Wu, founder of Azuki Systems, a mobile Web technology company.
"The only thing they want to control is the kernel of the operating system and the ability to data mine for search and advertising down the road."
(Additional reporting by Eric Auchard in San Francisco; Editing by Andre Grenon)
© Thomson Reuters 2008 All rights reserved
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