Earlier today, it was announced that Google Android would be going completely open source. A move that will hopefully shake the very foundation of mobile phones world wide… maybe?
Taking a look at Google’s track record, they’ve created top notch products which make life on the web much easier. Unfortunately, none of these fantastic products ever gained enough market share to become the household name that Google achieved with their search engine. Let’s take a look at some of their products which made a huge splash but fizzled off into mediocrity:
Gmail first burst onto the scene on April 1, 2004 as an invitation-only online e-mail service which competed with the likes of Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail. Users raved about Gmail’s speed, ease of use, and large storage space. Gmail opened up to the public on February 7, 2007 and continues to increase the storage space offered to users, currently up to 7254MB as of this writing.
Google Calendar opened up to the public on April 13, 2006 as a web-based calendar and contact manager. It’s everything that a calendar should be: lightweight, flexible, easy to use, and accessible anywhere you have an internet connection. It synchronizes with Microsoft Outlook, which personally allows me to have my calendar on my Samsung Jack (Using Windows Mobile 6.1), my desktop PC with Windows XP, and Google Calendar.
Google Talk was released on August 24, 2005 as a Windows and web-based instant messaging application. Like the above two applications, it is lightweight, easy to use, and accessible anywhere you have an internet connection.
What do all three of these Google products have in common? They’ve never left “beta” status. What does this mean? Google can essentially make enormous changes or large errors without being at fault. Will Google Android become another “perpetual beta product”?
I sure hope not.
But Google is doing something completely different with Google Android, which may create an entirely different animal. Here’s the short list of approaches that Google is using that may lead to success with Android:
- Fully Open Source – Releasing the source code of Android allows everyone to see what makes it tick. This can result in fully customized versions of Android being released by users (a la Linux), and security issues and bugs to be solved by Google developers and community alike.
- Third Party Developers – Apple made a great move by selectively allowing third parties to develop applications for the App Store, Google made an even better move by allowing any third party to develop applications for its own App Store.
Will Google Android fade into mediocrity, or will this be the first product since it’s ubiquitous search engine to become a mainstream product?
Only time will tell.