Google’s Android OS is doing very well, on phones at least, but according to some surveys people would rather have an iPhone. It seems that a lot of people have only joined the Android ranks because it was available on their network and the iPhone wasn’t. This could be a problem for Android since all three of largest mobile phone providers may be offering the iPhone soon since AT&T and Verizon have it already and Sprint may soon join the party.

When it comes to tablets, Android tablet sales are still lagging quite a bit compared to the iPad. There are several possible reasons, some say that iPads are better, perhaps its due to the large number of apps Apple has to offer compare to their competition. No matter what the reason, however, Google has a great OS and it should be doing better than it is.

So what can Google do with a stagnant tablet market and a phone market that may not be so successful in the future? Well, the whole $99 fire sale HP just had could give us one hint. If Android phones and tablets where significantly lower priced than their iOS rivals, that could win over the masses. Of course, Google is subject to the manufacturers choices of hardware and prices, and they don’t control the pricing of the products that hit the market—but the could. Here are two ways that Google can make their platform more successful.

1. Subsidize

The United States Government has subsidized corn production in the US so much that you can find corn byproducts in just about every food you pick up in the grocery store. (Of course this only hurts the farmers and its not good for us either, but that is beside the point of this article.) Why can’t Google subsidize its products?

What if Google started paying manufacturers to produce the hardware of systems running a certified version of Google Android. This would have some big advantages. First, it would limit the customization that OEMs can do to the system and provide a more seamless experience for users moving from one device to another (something I know Google wants). Second, the price savings would go to the customers, meaning that more Androids will be running around than ever before because people love inexpensive toys. (The OEMs wouldn’t suffer like farmers do with corn production, since there isn’t really a middle-man.) Third, it may even bring some Android OEMs back into the fold of consistent experience (Amazon has completely overhauled Android, changing the UI and removing the marketplace…that’s not good for Google.)

If Google subsidized the purchase of certain types of hardware for systems that had the Android Marketplace, Google as the default search engine, and respectable hardware, customers would get a great deal and would flock to Android the way people flocked to the HP TouchPad (even though the thing has no perceivable future).

2. Make the Marketplace More Enticing

There are a couple things Google really needs to with their Marketplace, including making discovery easier, but I’m going to focus on something else.

Amazon has the right idea of offering a free app everyday. When I do finally get my own Android device, I will surely install Amazon’s App Store, simply so I can reap the benefits. If Google did this, or perhaps a “buy ten paid apps get the next one free” kind of deal, the Marketplace would surly be more successful attracting more developers. Google doesn’t really care if they make money on their Marketplace, they really just want people to make more Google searches, so this Marketplace strategy is really intended to attract more users to attract more developers to get higher app numbers to attract more users (who will then make more Google searches when they use their device).


Google is certainly one of the big mobile OS powers, but the game is still new enough that things can change quickly. Google better start acting with some strategy before, say Microsoft, gets ahold of these ideas and makes their platform more enticing for the users.

What ideas do you have to make the Android platform better?

I think the reason some people like the iPhone over Android devices is usability. It really is simple. One button. Simple home screen. Snappy and fluid. On the other hand, the reason why many (like me) like Android devices is because it offers unlimited customization. Unfortunately, there is no hybrid. Once you add one level of customization, you remove the simplicity. I do, however, feel that Android could be a little more user friendly. I hope that ICS will offer a good mix between simplicity and user control.
Devin on 2011-09-06 10:32:16.0
I agree, I've thought the same thing.
Mahon on 2011-09-07 16:47:46.0
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