January 1, 2013

Google Mobile Predictions For 2013

The new year holds much promise and several challenges for Google’s continued efforts at a winning mobile strategy. The company’s platform war with Apple will only intensify as it pushes further Android adoption and ramps up development of its growing suite of iOS apps.

Here is a brief look back at some of the highlights for 2012 and what those tell us about the direction Google will take in 2013.

One of the company’s major moves was the rebranding of the Android Market as Google Play, making it a full-blown competitor to iTunes by consolidating its storefront for music, movies, books, and of course Android apps. It later added in devices, selling its own Nexus-branded line of hardware and Chromebooks directly to consumers.

The Nexus strategy is working in many ways, with many of the devices hard to come by. However, the double edged sword of this arrangement is that many prospective Nexus owners have been frustrated by the lack of availability and communication.

My prediction is that Google will learn from this experience, perhaps taking greater control of its next Nexus line by shifting the development to its Motorola Mobility unit. The company has learned how to manage customers on the business end with its Google Apps offerings; this knowledge must now be applied to the consumer side.

Google’s mobile strategy isn’t just about Android, however. The company’s clandestine invasion of iOS is also working brilliantly. Google Maps is currently the number one free application in the App Store, with YouTube at number three.

In fact, Google has a total of 26 apps in the App Store, 12 of which were in the top 10 most-downloaded category in the last 30 days. The development pace has been pretty rapid, with nine of them introduced in 2012.

Look for Google to continue to build an ecosystem-within-an-ecosystem this year on iOS. For example, one can get their messages with the native Gmail app and then directly open them in Chrome. Developers can now build Google maps inside of their apps, foregoing Apple’s poorly received alternative. For all the talk about Apple being a “closed ecosystem” or “walled garden,” it has enough openness to allow companies like Google to build applications that meet the needs of their users.

Ultimately 2013 will be another year where Google ramps up its efforts to widen its base of users both on Android and iOS. While it has proven itself as an excellent creator of applications and an operating system, better communication and support for consumers will be its next challenge in 2013.

Image credit: Android Developers Blog

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