The real reason we got android

Posted on January 19, 2019

This is the first article in a series what I brainstorm about the shift of business models in the IT world in the 2010s. I’m writing down my intuitions and observations here in attempt to brainstorm a little and understand what’s going on. I hope to eventually sum it all up, backed up by more facts. Feedback is very welcome via E-Mail!

I remember back in 1998 when I recomended to a friend of mine in school to use google, the answer I got back after he’d tried it out was that it was “a crappy search engine”. I only wish I’d recorded that!

Now, google is everywhere and I dare argue they are ten years ahead technologically when it comes to search engines. They are probably better than anyone else with regards to core search technology, but also things like containerization and orchestration of huge numbers of low end computers to master the kind of crawling and distributed data processing they do.

It used to be said, google can be pushed out of market any day. All a competitor has to do is find and implement a better algorithm for search.

What does google have to fear, then? They are way ahead of everyone; attempts to build a competetive search engine have all failed miserably.

Is there another way to bring them down? Let’s look at this a little closer: What google is doing is index huge amounts of data, data that is available freely to them. The web used to be very distributed, everyone registering their own domain and running their own little webserver. The web was based on open standards and you didn’t have to login to your favourite asocial platform before that platform’d allow you to see your friend’s content.

So ironically, while google’s algorithm is closed, google’s original business model relied on everything else being open. Google’s crawler can’t access what isn’t made available in the open.

If none of the interesting information is accessible to google’s crawler anymore, that crawler can be as good as it gets, it’ll still be utterly useless.

This means that big platforms like an asocial website or a smart phone brand are things that can bring down google, even though neither of them compete in google’s primary market, which is data mining and searching efficiently for useful information. But they do compete in a market that google doesn’t care running itself, but that it heavily relies on: Content generation and publishing.

And in my opinion, this is the very reason we got android. Google didn’t want to join the mobile phone market to extend its business. It didn’t want to make the world a better place by making things more open (source). Indeed, I go so far as to claim google doesn’t care at all about the phone market, which is why much of android is open.

What they do care about is that no single entity controls the publishing platforms that contain the raw materials that make up google’s value: user generated information.

So, by pushing android they’ve achieved just that. They’ve ensured they keep their access to interesting information.

Much like an airline building its own airport, not because they’ve grown interested in the business of running airports, but because the best airline in the world isn’t worth anything without runways to land their planes on.

You think that hasn’t happened? Oh why, it has. For example, Egelsbach Airport was bought by Netjets a few years back. Netjets’s primary business is to rent jets to interested customers. I don’t think they like running an airport very much, let alone one that doesn’t seem to make a huge profit. Still, they bought Egelsbach Airport because it’s so close to Frankfort it’s in Frankfurt’s CTR, and Frankfurt is so congested new airlines have a hard time getting new slots allocate to them.