Google’s “Don’t be evil” is weaker and weaker every time the search giant does something against its own motto. How many times did we see Google somehow managing to infringe on the customer’s privacy? How many times did we see Google investigated in various regions of the world including the U.S. and Europe for alleged actions that deserve being looked into? How many times did we see the company forced to pay a fine or settle a legal matter?
More than once, which is too many times already. Sure, Google provides a lot of free services in addition to Search, which is why we tend to overlook its reported or confirmed infractions. But the ultimate goal of providing such services, whether it’s Gmail, YouTube, Maps, Chrome or Android, is to make money, not to receive endless praises.
Google, like any other corporation, is interested in turning in a profit quarter after quarter in order to please investors and not only. And its main revenue stream is based on online ads. That means Google simply has to compete on multiple fronts, to keep the ad revenue coming in no matter how tough the economy is at any given moment. That means Google has to change search algorithms, it has to modify privacy policies across services but it also has to devise new products such as Android and Google+ to fight of competitors such as Apple, Microsoft and Amazon on the mobile front and Facebook, Twitter and others in the social networking universe, respectively, that could affect ad revenue on the long run through competing products.
The Amazon threat
This explains why Amazon with its Kindle Fire tablets is such a threat for Google, as the electronics giant managed to deliver a striking blow to Android tablet makers in 2011 and make everyone realize that Google’s main threat comes from within. Amazon stripped all Google services from the Android-based Kindle Fire OS and therefore made sure Google’s ads would not show on default Kindle Fire.
What would happen if more OEMs decided they're strong enough to pull of an Amazon-like move – creating their own Android-based universe but without welcoming Google to the party?
How did Google feel about the Kindle Fire? Formally, Andy Rubin said a while ago that he appreciates the Kindle Fire, a device running Android and selling like hot cakes. But informally, Google would probably have a very different opinion. Enter the Nexus 7, a tablet not supposed to put a dent into iPad sales, but rather put an end to Amazon’s dominance in the Android tablet universe.
Google and China are not exactly close friends, and we all know that. In fact, it's more difficult for Google to make the most of the Chinese web, because of the history and difficulties it faced in the region thanks to the rigid rules of the local Government. That means Google is not making as much cash off of Chinese customers, including Android users, as it could. So while it does hold a large piece of the mobile OS pie in the region, it's definitely where it could be from the financial point of view.
Forcing Acer out
The long intro above is needed in order to look to a recent chain of events that portray Google as the “be evil” bad guy. Reuters reported earlier today that Google put pressure on Acer to cancel a smartphone launch in China, where the handset and smartphone maker was supposed to announce a new device with Alibaba Group, “China’s biggest e-commerce firm:”
Acer and Alibaba's cloud computing unit had planned to launch the Acer CloudMobile A800 smartphone, using Alibaba's mobile operating system, Aliyun, [a Linux-based mobile operating system] in Shanghai on Thursday afternoon.
Apparently Google doesn’t want any competition in the region from such a device, that would not run Android, which is definitely curious:
“Our partner received notification from Google that if the new product launch with Aliyun went ahead, Google would terminate Android product cooperation and related technical authorization with Acer,” Alibaba Cloud Computing said in a statement.
And this isn’t just a rumor whispered around the dark alleys of the Interwebs. This is Reuters reporting on a story, and telling the world why journalists showed up for the Chinese event only to find out that it was canceled.
Is this what we want in the mobile space, or any other niche for that matter? Should any company have as much leverage on its “partners?” Would Google pull off such a stunt with companies like Samsung, HTC or LG, in case they wanted to launch devices with different operating systems in China? Wait a second, Samsung has bada and Windows Phone handsets in its lineup, and HTC and LG are also Microsoft’s partners. It definitely can't force Amazon not to screw up with Android anymore, can it?
Sure, China is a big attraction to every player in the mobile business as it offers potential for plenty of growth in the coming years. But Android is already the dominant mobile OS in the region, when looking at market share, so how much harm could Aliyun really do? Is this how thins should happen when it comes to open source products?
Coincidentally, a few days we published an article titled: “China’s Alibaba wants to take on Android, should Google be worried?” That was more of a rhetorical question since the only companies Google should be worried about right now are Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook for different reasons that boil down to one thing, losing ad-based revenue. But it looks like Google is worried about Alibaba too. At least according to Reuters.
Google and Acer did not comment on the matter, but it would make sense to see them respond to such accusations. In fact, we'd definitely love to hear more on this story.
What do you think about all of the above?