The company was praised for preventing all content that would violate the consent decree from being stored on its servers and even going to court to stop any sites from hosting banned application.
Google’s risky hardware play may be an attempt to protect the company from loss of dominance on mobile. Sources speaking to The Information say CEO Sundar Pichai is worried that Apple could engulf Google in the mobile market and that antitrust officials might void their deal with Apple to make its search engine the default on iPhones. According to VP Sissie Hsiao, Pichai also sees hardware as a way to ensure “protection” against loss of control over the search engine market.
While Android support apparently remains intact, it has been noted that the company is investing less in Assistant for cars and third-party hardware. Hsiao is said to be exploring shifting his team away from this platform and Google TV, potentially upsetting customers of Google’s products who don’t use either platform.
Google has not yet commented on The Information’s story, but the article may have given engineers within the company reason to reconsider taking risks in the hardware business. While Android’s dominance is doubtful, any continued shortcomings could eat into Google’s mobile ad revenue even if its iPhone search deal continues unchallenged. In contrast, Hsiao supposedly suggested that the Automotive platform running on Android in use at BMW, Volvo and a few other companies has reached $1 billion in sales–a tiny fraction of Google’s $257.6 billion earned in 2021.
The main concern is whether or not Google can produce enough hardware to protect itself from any problems. While Google revitalized its phone lineup with last year’s Pixel 6 and the just-launched Pixel 7, it’s not clear that this has translated to improved sales numbers. When Google moves just 4.5 million phones in 2021 where Apple and Samsung ship over 200 million each, the company is only just making its first in-house smartwatch. It’s also reentering the tablet space after a years-long hiatus.
The Information reports that Google is concentrating on providing the best services to Android partners like Samsung, OnePlus and Xiaomi
. This could hurt other brands that might not get equal access to Assistant or other key features. If you’re concerned about the long-term health of the Android ecosystem, this reported focus shift might not be very reassuring.