domingo, 25 de diciembre de 2011

Google Lights the Way in Improving Android Tech

Managing partnerships for the Android platform is a bit like playing quarterback, says Google's (GOOG) John Lagerling.

Wireless carriers, handset manufacturers and chipmakers all have their own ideas for the Google-backed operating system, now the No. 1 platform for smartphones in the U.S.

Those players are all "extremely important in whether we win or not," said Lagerling, who is Google's director of Android global partnerships. In football after all, the QB usually relies on other players to get the ball in the end zone.

Even so, "you need someone to set the direction," Lagerling said, "and I think that's what Google has done, maybe like a quarterback."

Free To Create

Lagerling adds that the Web search giant has benefited from being independent, meaning it previously didn't have a direct hand in telecom or related industries. He said: "We're able to come in as a bit of a wild card, and I think set the tone."

Still, it's a "delicate balance," Lagerling said. "It's not always easy to keep everybody happy."

In any case, analysts are happy about Google's moves so far with Android — first launched commercially in 2008 — and its other mobile initiatives.

In a report about Google's third-quarter results, Credit Suisse wrote that the company is "in the process of building a comprehensive mobile presence, which would place it (along with Apple) at the center of the mobile Internet ecosystem and allow Google to maximize the profit potential."

The Credit Suisse analysts pointed out Google's Q3 disclosure that annual mobile revenue is now at about $2.5 billion, up from $1 billion a year ago and roughly 7% of total revenue. "As a result, we continue to think of mobile Internet as a significant incremental opportunity for Google," they wrote.

One frequent knock against Android devices is they don't feel quite as polished as Apple's (AAPL) iPhone or iPad. In large part, that's because no single partner controls an Android device from end to end.

Buffing The Product

Lagerling suggests the complaints will ebb with the latest version, dubbed Android 4.0 or Ice Cream Sandwich. In the U.S., the first device using ICS just went on sale this month.

"Now we also have the polish," he said. "Over the next six to nine months, all of the ICS devices that you'll see will be at a very, very high level in terms of usability and polish."

With the new version of Android, Google also will step up its push into the TV business.

"It used to be that touch-screen was a must if you wanted to build a compatible Android device," Lagerling said. "Now you don't need to have a touch-screen. You can have a pointer, a remote control or something else."

He added: "I expect a lot of these set-top boxes will use Android, or even TVs will use Android, going forward."

Worldwide, users are activating a huge number of Android devices. Google's latest estimate is about 700,000 Android activations every day.


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