Cloud // Software as a Service
Commentary
6/24/2014
09:21 AM
Mike Feibus
Mike Feibus
Commentary
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Google I/O: Pressure Is On

Amazon, Apple, and Samsung all made moves this month to neutralize Google. Here are four things the Internet titan should do at Google I/O this week to fight back.

Google I/O 2014: 8 Things To Watch
Google I/O 2014: 8 Things To Watch
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

There may have been a lot of Google execs gnawing away at their fingernails last night, unable to sleep. I doubt they were pondering whether they're too paranoid about the competitive landscape. Not bloody likely, not after the way June has played out for them. You're not paranoid if everyone really is out to get you, as the saying goes. And if competitors have made anything clear this month, it's that they all are gunning for Google.

This month, Amazon, Apple and Samsung -- three of the biggest names in the mobile ecosystem -- all updated their respective developer communities with product and platform plans, and the thread that hems their stories together is this: They're all hard at work shooing Google from their products.

Naturally, all three would be giddy if the other two faded from view. But for now at least, they have a bigger fish to fry. In fact, Apple actually peppered its June announcements with the time-tested "enemy-of-my-enemy" ideal: they picked Bing, the search engine from long-time rival Microsoft, to power Spotlight, the built-in search front end that's coming with iOS 8.

Samsung, the largest smartphone supplier that also happens to ship more Android devices than any other, unveiled the first-ever smartphone based on Tizen, an open-source alternative to Android. And Amazon's new "buyPhone" (Amazon calls it the Fire Phone) sees to it that consumers shop with its commerce engine, not Google's.

Taken together, the developments should sound alarms at Google. There are untold billions at stake for the winner in the battle for our attention on mobile platforms. Whoever has our attention is best positioned to sell us stuff when we're ready to buy. That's why they all invest so much to develop new hardware platforms and services to run on those platforms. Everything that's happened in June so far is conspiring to divert attention away from Google products and services, making it less likely that Google will be the one to profit on the commerce that the three competitors' hardware generates.

[Will Google compete on cloud storage pricing? Read Microsoft OneDrive: Cloud Storage Price Showdown.]

If he who laughs last truly does laugh best, then it seems that the calendar gods have smiled upon Google. For they have anointed Big Daddy G, the veritable Rose Bowl of mobile platform players, a one-of-a-kind opportunity to make the last pitch before the summer season at the Google I/O developer conference, which begins this week in San Francisco.

Is Google ready for the opportunity? We'll find out soon enough. If it were me, I'd set my sights on impressing the developers in these four critical areas: the Android OS; Android Wear, the targeted wearables variant; Search in general, and Maps in particular; and music streaming.

-- Android is due for an update. We just heard from Apple about all the features it's cramming into iOS 8. Apple says it is adding 4,000 new APIs -- the most since the company first opened the iOS app store. Some of them are bundled in HealthKit, which helps prime the pump for the rumored Apple wearables presumably coming this fall. There's also HomeKit to enable home control apps -- a move that signals Apple will be mounting a challenge Google's Nest acquisition. Given all that, Google would be well served by a major release to follow Android 4.4, or KitKat. An update that puts some air between Android and its rivals could go a long way toward easing the impact of the three rivals' advancements.

-- Android Wear advancements -- not to mention a new device or two to re-inject some excitement into the wearables segment -- would help ahead of the Apple iWatches expected in October.

-- Maps and Search enhancements also would help thwart Apple's attempts to knock Google out of its platforms. Apple and Amazon both showed off some cool 3D map features. If Google has anything up its sleeve in these areas, I'd pull it out this week.

-- Google needs to make a move in music streaming, which has been rising quickly as a service that grabs and holds our attention on mobile devices. Amazon this month unveiled its own streaming service, called Prime Music. And Apple, of course is busy finalizing its acquisition of Beats. Last Friday, Google disclosed that you can now search for an artist or band and play their music without leaving the Search function. That's not a big announcement. But it does signal, at the very least, that music streaming may become a priority at Google too.

A few big moves in these areas could help erase some of the advancements the others made this month. And that, in turn, might help Google execs get some sleep this summer.

InformationWeek's new Must Reads is a compendium of our best recent coverage of the Internet of Things. Find out the way in which an aging workforce will drive progress on the Internet of Things, why the IoT isn't as scary as some folks seem to think, how connected machines will change the supply chain, and more. (Free registration required.)

Mike Feibus is principal analyst at TechKnowledge Strategies, a Scottsdale, Ariz., market research firm focusing on client technologies. You can reach him at mikef@feibustech.com. View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
stotheco
50%
50%
stotheco,
User Rank: Ninja
6/25/2014 | 3:24:04 PM
Re: No Walled Gardens
No walls = more opportunities. Google has capitalized on that already (think: Android) and so they definitely have one up versus competitors who insist on locking things down. Yes, I'm talking about you, Apple.
stotheco
50%
50%
stotheco,
User Rank: Ninja
6/25/2014 | 3:22:17 PM
Re: Breakthrough wearable
Google has already come up with the Google Glass, which is already quite a breakthrough. Personally I do not see them coming up with another wearable anytime soon but of course I could be wrong. It seems that they will continue working on the Glass and tweaking it to make it the best in its niche before moving on.
Laurianne
50%
50%
Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
6/24/2014 | 5:12:55 PM
Breakthrough wearable
I would love to see Google surprise everyone with a breakthrough wearable. I don't expect any skydivers this year though. They have set that wow factor pretty high for themselves at all future keynotes.
Brian.Dean
50%
50%
Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
6/24/2014 | 3:12:30 PM
Re: No Walled Gardens
Good point, if Google can remain open then sooner or later, the firm will manage to find another market segment, and begin to dominate it without a competitor in sight. This new market segment could come from anywhere, for instance, from the automotive industry, Tesla has taken up the open approach as it gives away all of its patents and Google has been interested in smart cars, etc.
Lorna Garey
50%
50%
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
6/24/2014 | 12:04:11 PM
Re: No Walled Gardens
Agreed Drew. The beef with Apple products forever, the Fire phone, and Tizen all center around one theme: lock in. If Google is smart it'll smile and point that out.
Drew Conry-Murray
50%
50%
Drew Conry-Murray,
User Rank: Ninja
6/24/2014 | 10:53:09 AM
No Walled Gardens
Maybe Google's move is to stay as open as possible. Apple, Samsung and Amazon want to build walled gardens that keep users in narrow transactional lanes. Maybe a good play for Google is to be the open alternative?
8 Steps to Modern Service Management
8 Steps to Modern Service Management
ITSM as we know it is dead. SaaS helped kill it, and CIOs should be thankful. Hereís what comes next.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek - September 2, 2014
Avoiding audits and vendor fines isn't enough. Take control of licensing to exact deeper software discounts and match purchasing to actual employee needs.
Flash Poll
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
In in-depth look at InformationWeek's top stories for the preceding week.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.