Google Pushes for Android Everywhere as Mobile Spreads – Businessweek

Google Inc. (GOOG:US) is on a mission to make
its Android mobile software ubiquitous.

In a series of announcements today at its annual developer
conference, Google unveiled a new version of the software for
handsets and tablets and showed it in use in smartwatches, cars
and a new television service. That puts Android, already the
world’s top operating system for smartphones, not only into
gadgets that people carry with them wherever they go, but also
increasingly into their living rooms, onto their bodies and in
how they transport themselves.

Google wants to provide a “seamless experience across all
these connected devices,” Android chief Sundar Pichai said at
today’s event in San Francisco. “We’re making everything
contextually aware. We want to know when you’re at home, with
your kids.”

The Web-search giant is expanding Android as an underlying
software foundation as it ramps up against Apple Inc. (AAPL:US),
Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN:US) and others to be a digital gatekeeper to
consumers. The more that Google can connect devices, vehicles
and other items with its software, the more likely it is that
consumers will stick with the company for all of their user
experience.

Rivals like Apple as well as Amazon are also pushing to tie
more services and devices together. Earlier this month, Apple
showed how its iOS software for the iPad and iPhone and its Mac
operating system are increasingly working together, with a
customer able to answer a call to an iPhone on his or her iMac.
Apple is also looking to get into smartwatches to broaden its
product ecosystem. Last week, Amazon introduced Fire Phone, a
smartphone that is closely connected to the Web retailer’s
online store and library of movies plus other content.

Being Everywhere

“With Apple already in the TV and car space and rumored to
be attacking wearables, Google doesn’t want developers to have
any excuse to choose Apple’s ecosystem over Android,” Carl Howe, an analyst with the Yankee Group, wrote in an e-mail.
“Therefore, Google wants to ensure that it is in all those
places too.”

Smartphones based on Android, which Google gives to
hardware manufacturers for free, made up 78 percent of the
global industry in 2013, up from 66 percent in 2012, according
to Gartner Inc. The No. 2 player was Apple’s iPhone, which had
16 percent, down from 19 percent.

Yet Google’s strategy of putting Android everywhere is
risky, Howe said. A race for ubiquity doesn’t mean Google will
necessarily create the best products in each category, he said.
Given that Google makes no revenue from the software, “it could
easily lose money by winning,” he added.

Android L

The new version of Android, dubbed L and available to
developers tomorrow, will let them easily implement features
such as animations and will include more privacy tools, Google
executives said today. It also has a feature that lets people
disable their smartphones if they get stolen.

“We have been working very hard,” Pichai said, adding
that Android now has more than 1 billion active users. “This is
one of the most comprehensive releases we have done.”

That inclusive approach extended into a battery of new
gadgets and areas where Android will play. Google announced new
smartwatches at the event, with one from LG Electronics Inc.
that had apps loaded onto it and that is available through
Google’s Play online store. Some of the watches have
capabilities that enable it to be used as a remote control for
other devices. Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), which has been offering
smartwatches with its Gear lineup — some of which are based on
competing software called Tizen — also has a new Android-based
watch called Gear Live.

Android TV

Google also unveiled plans to get the software into the
living room through an effort called Android TV. While the
Mountain View, California-based company has already introduced
software for televisions and the Chromecast dongle for streaming
Web content to TVs, more devices will debut later this year
featuring the software, Google said today. Sony Corp., Sharp
Corp., LG and Asustek Computer Inc. will be among the partners
for Android TV.

Google also rolled out Android Auto, a bid to get more of
its software into cars. The effort follows the January rollout
of the Open Automotive Alliance, a partnership with carmakers
focused on Android. Android Auto will bring digital tools and
media into vehicles, with capabilities for tailored maps.
Developers will be able to use a software development kit to
create apps for cars, the company said. Some cars will begin
including Android Auto by the end of the year.

Chrome Connection

Android will also work more easily with Chrome OS, another
Google operating system used in inexpensive laptop-like devices
called Chromebooks. Google today unveiled new tools to tie the
two together, including deeper integration with Android apps
from smartphones so that it’s simpler to access a program such
as note-taking service Evernote on a Chromebook.

To foster the growth of Android in emerging markets, which
are some of the biggest growth areas for mobile devices, Google
also rolled out an initiative called Android One to develop low-cost smartphones, beginning with three manufacturers in India.
Pichai referenced an Android One device that costs less than
$100 as an example.

“We are working with carriers in these markets to provide
affordable carrier packages with these devices,” Pichai said at
the event.

Google’s push to get Android everywhere still faces hurdles
with developers, who need to be persuaded to create programs for
the sprawl of initiatives.

“I don’t run out and jump into any of this stuff because I
need to see that there’s going to be a market around it,” said
Todd Moore, whose three-person development studio, Tmsoft LLC,
makes a popular sleep-aid app called White Noise. “Most
developers are cautious when a new platform or new app store is
created because we want to wait and see if there’s going to be
widespread adoption before we put forth effort.”

To contact the reporters on this story:
Brian Womack in San Francisco at
bwomack1@bloomberg.net;
Mark Milian in San Francisco at
mmilian@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Pui-Wing Tam at
ptam13@bloomberg.net
Jillian Ward

Google Pushes for Android Everywhere as Mobile Spreads – Businessweek

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