Everyone see the interview yesterday with Ballmer trashing Android? If i were heading to Redmond this am, I would pull over and call my recruiter.
"Hello, Steve, are you are still in denial? How can you not see the power that Google gains by giving away an open operating system to leverage ad revenue opportunities from mobile access to hosted services? "
Ballmer's criticism of Google feels like another "I love the 90's" on VH1. It's old skool, and in the software world, that's not a good thing. Anybody remember Sybase? Ballmer's comments suggest that instead of a free, open-source OS that enables valuable revenue services (search, mobile contextual search), Google should: 1) develop a proprietary OS, 2) license it to handset manufacturers, 3) bear the cost of support, maintenance and upgrades, and 4) saddle mobile devices with fat-client software that are clunky to use (How's Intellisync working for you Exchange users?). This is not only out of touch with today's world-- light, agile, thin client apps, hosted services in the cloud-- it also reflects a continued institutional arrogance about who can build better software-- Microsoft or the Crowd?
The fact is, Android is a brilliant idea. Google has commoditized the OS by making it free and open source. This is good, because customer don't care about branded O/S's- quick, what O/S does your Mac run on/-- and commoditized open source O/S's mean lower cost to produce, and a higher likelihood that the end product will be better than the stuff coming off the assembly line at Microsoft (anybody remember Vista?) With legions of worldwide developers pounding out the O/S and thin-client applications, PLUS the integration of Google services puts Android ahead of all smartphones-- even one day, the iPhone. And, Google's position will only grow as integrated services and bandwidth become more available (Wi-Fi, 4G). Sure, right now it's easy to kick Google in the handset--HTC is not a glamor product, but think how far off the first iPod was from what has become the iPone.
It's unavoidable that Google can dominate mobile services delivery and advertising as the central stakeholder in Android. In fact, it makes a lot more sense that a services company will prevail as compared to hardware/handset makers (Apple, you listening?) because all of the value in mobile computing will be in the applications themselves. iTunes, you need to shape up!
Meanwhile, Steve, you need to put your head in the cloud and recognize that making money off of proprietary OS licensing and fat client apps no longer works as a business model. Just ask Amazon or Salesforce.com. So, embrace open, service hosted delivery models or face the reality of becoming obsolote in mobile smartphones in the future.