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When it comes to the public’s perception of big evil companies, Microsoft long held the crown, but Google’s moves into everything seem to be putting them firmly in the firing line. Well I’m here to tell you they’re both evil and they’re having a big fight. Gather round and watch as these horribly rich behemoths trade blows to see who gets the ultimate megalomaniac title.
Microsoft is steadily working their way through the Android manufacturer list and demanding money with menace. They want royalties for Android devices because the platform infringes their patents. Since Google doesn’t charge licensing fees for Android, Microsoft could end up making more from the platform than Google does; they certainly make more from Android than they do from Windows Phone 7 right now.
The fact that the latest scalp on Microsoft’s belt is Samsung is a serious concern for Google. Microsoft now has Acer, General Dynamics Itronix, Onkyo, Velocity Micro, ViewSonic, Wistron, HTC and Samsung paying royalties for Android devices. Even worse for Google, Samsung also announced that they would be working with Microsoft to further develop and promote Windows Phone 7.
It seems Google’s move for Motorola Mobility, which was at least partly to arm themselves in the patent wars, hasn’t really persuaded Samsung that they can fight Microsoft on the issue.
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Microsoft was quick to have an inevitable dig at Google in this blog post saying that the agreement “…. leaves Motorola Mobility, with which Microsoft is currently in litigation, as the only major Android smartphone manufacturer in the U.S. without a license." and “These agreements prove that licensing works." and “We recognize that some businesses and commentators – Google chief among them – have complained about the potential impact of patents on Android and software innovation. To them, we say this: look at today’s announcement."
Google wasn’t best pleased and came back with. “This is the same tactic we’ve seen time and again from Microsoft. Failing to succeed in the smartphone market, they are resorting to legal measures to extort profit from others’ achievements and hinder the pace of innovation. We remain focused on building new technology and supporting Android partners."
To which Microsoft’s head of communications, Frank Shaw tweeted “let me boil down the Google statment they gave to @parislemon, from 48 words to 1: Waaaah."
A bit childish and you’d think their head of communications should be able to spell, but you have to admit it’s also pretty funny.
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Who is the Greediest?
The Google vs Microsoft war is obviously a war on several fronts, not just mobile. There’s web search, operating systems, web browsers, navigation and cloud services.
Both companies are keen to portray themselves as innovators, and they are to an extent, but they’re also adept at acquiring great innovations that other people have developed. Instead of relying on their own R&D they can just buy up developments that look successful.
So who is the greediest of them all? Well I think Microsoft is more profit focused, but both of them are capitalists. They’re out for profit first and there’s no altruism in business. If we’re just looking at the mobile space then the greedy crown definitely belongs to Apple. It’s worth pointing out that Apple out-earned both Microsoft and Google by a distance in the last quarter. With the iPhone 5 about to hit the market we can expect them to increase the gap further. Apple approves everything on their iOS platform and they exercise strict control. Their reasons for rejecting apps are not always clear – for example, the FCC had to step in to get them to take Google Voice. Isn't that the kind of thing Microsoft and Google get criticized for?
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Ganging Up on Google
There’s no doubt that Google is in the crosshairs of a lot of companies. They aren’t just fighting Microsoft on multiple fronts they’re also fighting Apple, and Amazon is weighing in with their own attack. The Amazon Appstore and the new Kindle Fire are a real threat to Google because they use the Android platform, but they’re not using Google branded services which is where Google actually makes their profit. Amazon has even developed the Silk web browser for the Kindle Fire.
RIM is also due to release their QNX smartphones which will run Android apps so it will be interesting to see how they handle that. It seems unlikely that they’ll want to adopt Google services, so we could end up with a lot of Android devices that don’t really make Google any money.
They’ve also kicked off hostilities with a new enemy in the shape of Facebook by launching Google +.
Google is still reliant on advertising for the lion’s share of their income and their dominant web search position is slowly being eroded. They are also being investigated by US government antitrust officials concerned about their dominance of the Internet search market. It’s hardly time to panic, but you’d have to imagine they are feeling the pressure right now.
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Google vs Microsoft
This one is going to rage on for quite some time. It’s already been going for a few years and both companies seem to be committed to competing on every front they can find. Microsoft has poured billions into Bing and it’s still making a loss. Although it is slowly gaining on Google, that situation is only sustainable if they keep pouring in the money. Of course with a nice cash injection from Android licensing they can probably afford it.
Both companies are big enough that it’s not going to be a complete triumph for one and an utter defeat for the other. They’ll probably take points off each other in different battles, but the war will go on. What do you think? Post a comment.
- Microsoft, http://blogs.technet.com/b/microsoft_on_the_issues/archive/2011/09/28/our-licensing-deal-with-samsung-how-ip-drives-innovation-and-collaboration.aspx
- ARN, http://www.arnnet.com.au/article/402896/bing_bleeds_billions_when_will_it_end_/?fp=4&fpid=399285820#closeme
- Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/oct/03/kindle-fire-google
- Tech Crunch, http://techcrunch.com/2011/09/28/microsoft-samsung-extortion-google/
- Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/google-faces-antitrust-glare-on-capitol-hill/2011/09/20/gIQAFUuKjK_story.html
- Twitter, https://twitter.com/#!/fxshaw