Today, Techmeme is full of news coming from Google’s Mobile press event. The two interesting announcement from Google are
- A way to instantly send links, maps, etc. to Android phones from desktops. It is a clever interplay between three Google properties, Google’s Chrome browser, Google’s Android phone and Google Cloud (Do I hear monopoly from folks?)
- Voice actions for Android, somewhat similar to Siri app for iPhone. These are integrated into Google search app and can perform some basic tasks like send text messages, call a contact, listen to music, view a map, etc..
These are pretty interesting features meant to make Android phones integrate deeply into our daily workflow. The Chrome extension will come very handy as we are still working in silos due to the weak coupling between our desktop and mobile worlds. This extension will allow us to move seamlessly from desktop to mobile. Since Google’s cloud serves as the backend infrastructure, Google is now well positioned to get more information on the users behavior (which in turn can be used to monetize effectively).
The voice actions for Android is just some catching up done by Google. Ever since Apple acquired Siri and its possible integration with iOS in the future, there is definitely some pressure on Google to do the same on Android. With this integration, Google is getting ready to be on par with iPhone for a voice based access to “intelligence as a service”.
Clearly, as Om Malik points out in his post today, Google sees mobile as the path to their cloud domination. In fact, it is my argument that Cloud is a revolution not by itself but only when we see it in a holistic way along with the proliferation of smart mobile devices. Google certainly realizes that any attempt to achieve cloud domination through desktop is really a long shot. Their best bet lies in the mobile side as many developing countries are also jumping the desktop era to go straight into mobile. However, I am troubled by a slight, but unnoticed, shift in Google’s mobile strategy. Last year when it appeared that Android had a long road ahead, Google was busy luring iPhone users to their services through apps. Once Apple tried to put roadblocks on Google’s path, they shifted gears and started focusing on the mobile web strategy. For some time, it appeared that Google is going to ignore the native app mania from iPhone fanboys and go ahead with mobile web apps. In 2010, we saw a tremendous growth in Android based phones (according to Gartner, Android saw 15.4% growth in marketshare in 2010 compared to 2009 while iOS saw a meager 1.2% in the same period) and now Google appears to be focusing more on native Android apps than mobile web apps. Yes, they are definitely improving their apps to play nicely on mobile browsers but the soundbites seems to be more about Android apps.
Clearly, the future of cloud and mobile are closely interconnected and Google is focusing heavily to become a dominant player in this future. I just hope that they focus more on mobile web and stay true to their pledge to develop a platform independent, interoperable ecosystem.