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Recognizing the shaky economic climate and Motorola’s still tenuous market position, the company’s two CEOs Greg Brown and Sanjay Jha volunt…
More details on Sanjay Jha’s compensation around the Motorola (NYSE: MOT) break-up plan announced on February 11. And this will be sure to a…
Andy Rubin’s business card identifies him as the Vice President of Engineering at Google (s GOOG). In reality, he’s the Mountain View, Calif.-based search engine’s mobile chief. From the time Google snapped up his tiny startup, Android, to today, when it officially launched the first Google Phone, Rubin (and his partner Rich Miner) have been behind virtually every mobile move made by the company.
And until very recently, Rubin had maintained that Google wasn’t going to make a Google Phone. So when news of the Nexus One first broke, I was flabbergasted that after all the denials it was actually doing so. To that end, I asked him: How is Google suddenly in the hardware business?
“Google isn’t building hardware,” Rubin said. He noted how Apple’s (s aapl) iPhone typically carries the tag “Designed in California,” which explicitly points to that company’s hardware roots. Not so with Google. “We are not designers and there are no hardware or industrial designers on my team,” said Rubin. Instead they leave it to companies such as HTC, which has made the Nexus One.
More Google Phones to Come
“For the first time, we’re issuing purchasing orders to the manufacturers so we are now their customers,” he added, “which means we can now have more influence on the device.” That influence is quite visible in the Nexus One, as I point out in my review. And Rubin said Google is working with manufacturers in addition to HTC that also want to benefit from the sales push on Google’s web site.
Those words won’t placate some of the company’s partners, which according to my sources are livid at Google’s decision to promote the HTC-built device, which works with T-Mobile USA’s 3G network. Motorola (s MOT) and Verizon (s VZ) , which have collectively spent close to $100 million promoting the Android-based Droid, are said to be particularly miffed at this decision to launch the Google Phone. One look at the Nexus One and no one in their right mind would even consider the Droid. More importantly, imagine competing with the company that makes the OS itself.
“People shouldn’t focus too much on the device (Nexus One),” said Rubin. “What’s more important is the strategy behind the devices.” Instead of spending hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing, Google is simply “going straight to the Google customers,” he said. He believes that such a strategy could fundamentally change the way people buy cell phones — in other words, over the web. Already, as he pointed out, people are buying devices (and gadgets) online.
The way I see it, Google has a couple of major problems: It’s facing a splintering of the Android experience, thanks to the growing number of user experience efforts such as HTC’s Sense. And in order to quickly get traction in the marketplace, Google needs to attract more developers. To overcome these challenges, the company needs to seed the market with what it feels is the device that best showcases Android’s capabilities.
150,000 True Fans
Rubin hopes his company can sell, at the very least, 150,000 Nexus One devices. Why? “Because if there are that many devices out there, you are likely to run into someone with a device somewhere,” he reasoned. To be clear, that number is only applicable to the U.S., even though the device will be available in the UK, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Google won’t have any trouble selling that many devices. There are more than enough fanatical users of the company’s services, such as Gmail and Google Maps, to make that happen. The Nexus One and subsequent Google Phones will continue to be tightly integrated with Google’s services.
Cell Phone As a Platform
When I asked Rubin about some of the shortcomings of the Nexus One and of the Android platform in general, he was candid in admitting that there was still work to be done. “We could have easily seeded the developers with this new device with a higher-resolution screen, but we decided to wait till the announcement was made,” he said. Now that the device has been launched, Google, he said, was looking to aggressively woo developers. Expect it to make some major announcements on that front soon.
The world has changed, Rubin argued. Up until now, the software inside the phone and the web were two different entities living in two different worlds. What Android represents is the ethos of the web brought to the cell phone world. “As a company we iterate a lot and now you have a cell-phone platform that you can quickly iterate upon,” said Rubin. “When were you able to do that on Symbian?” Ouch! (Related: Symbian Executive Rips Into Google’s Android.)
I think that’s what makes Android such as interesting platform, as I explained in my essay, The Androidification of Everything. When I asked Rubin where Android could show up next, he said it could be anywhere — from set-top boxes to large-screen devices, even desktop PCs.
Related Research: Google’s Mobile Strategy
GigaOM is all about mobile today at Mobilize 09 here in San Francisco. We have a huge day ahead of us including a keynote from Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha and a fireside chat with Om and Google’s Andy Rubin, and I’m looking forward to hosting a panel on app stores. I hope to see you there, but if you can’t make the sold-out event please check out our streaming broadcast here.
The buzz surrounding Mobilize 09 continued to build this week with the news that mobile software guru Andy Rubin will join Om for a fireside chat at the Sept. 10 event in San Francisco. Rubin, who helped create Google’s mobile OS company before becoming the company’s vice president of engineering, joins an impressive speaker list that includes T-Mobile USA CTO Cole Brodman and Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha, who will launch the OEM’s lineup of Android phones. If you’re interested in attending — and I’m looking forward to meeting many of you at the show — please visit our registration page to buy tickets.
Earlier this morning, I got a chance to catch up with Dr. Sanjay Jha, co-CEO of Motorola (s MOT), soon after his company reported earnings (they met Wall Street’s modest expectations) to talk about everything from the state of the mobile market to prospects for Motorola. I will write all that up in a longer post, but there was one part of the conversation that stuck with me as it was very telling about the momentum around Google’s Android and the detrimental impact it’s having on Microsoft’s Windows Mobile. Read More about Is Google’s Android Killing Windows Mobile?
It might just be a burst of people playing with their new, fancy toy, but it appears the the new iPhone 3GS, the first Apple (s aapl) phone to enable mobile video capture, is already affecting web video in a big way. YouTube (s GOOG), the world’s biggest user-generated video site, said the iPhone was responsible for more than half of its mobile uploads in the last week.
YouTube said today mobile video is an “exponentially” growing part of its site. In the last six months, uploads from mobile phones to YouTube have increased 1,700 percent. Since last Friday, when the iPhone 3GS was release, video uploads are up 400 percent per day.
Those are impressive numbers, but they’re growth floating out there in space without axes. YouTube declined to disclose a breakdown of mobile uploads by devices, the total number of mobile uploads it sees, or what percent of all its uploads are from mobile phones.
YouTube is likely to monetize very few mobile uploads, since it only runs ads on videos created by partners who regularly produce videos that attract thousands of viewers. Mobile video tends towards the off-the-cuff and personal. Not to say those videos aren’t valuable to the people who make them, and in some instances of citizen journalism or viral hits, a much broader audience.
Fallout from Motorola (NYSE: MOT) CEO Sanjay Jha
Motorola (NYSE: MOT) co-CEO Sanjay Jha