Is Android Vs. Chrome A Metaphor For Apps Vs. Mobile Web?
Google’s early fantasy about mobile was that apps would eventually lose favor in favor of HTML5 and the browser. This is consistent with Google’s outlook and competitive history vs. Microsoft and Apple: the Internet and the cloud vs. proprietary operating systems and software. Yet, to date, apps have largely won out over the mobile Web.
According to Nielsen, US mobile users spend just under 80 percent of their time with mobile apps vs. the mobile Web. And, comScore has said that “four out of five” mobile minutes (roughly the same amount) are spent in mobile apps.
Last week, we discovered that Android boss Andy Rubin was stepping down to take another role within Google. Was he removed? Did he get bored or tired and leave? The Verge has a nice backgrounder that seeks to answer the question but doesn’t quite live up to the promise of its headline.
Source: Nielsen “The Social Media Report 2012”
Now that Android has been shifted to the same group under Sundar Pichai, who runs Chrome, there has been lots of speculation about whether the two operating systems would be merged into one. There are various opinions about the value or the challenges inherent in doing so.
However, earlier today, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt told reporters in India that the two operating systems would not be artificially brought together — they would remain separate — but implied that they were “converging” over time. Blogger Joe Wilcox interprets Schmidt’s comments and offers his own theory about Chrome vs. Android.
Wilcox argues that Google ultimately favors Chrome because it’s equated with the browser, which will operate on top of any OS and allows Google to bypass carrier and OS (Apple) bottlenecks and approvals. Firefox is pursuing a similar mobile-browser-as-OS approach out of necessity, as it seeks to remain relevant in mobile.
If Wilcox is right, and Chrome is a stand-in for the browser and Internet, while Android represents an app-centric mobile experience, then it makes sense Google would favor and promote Chrome over Android in the longer term. That’s their bias.