Andy Rubin's Pickle!

andy rubin

Photo: AP

Andy Rubin, the executive in charge of Android development at Google, is in a pickle.Android tablet sales stink, and a seemingly simple solution to the problem would actually only make things worse in the short term. 

Device-makers using Google’s software  have shipped 12 million total.

Apple sold that many just last quarter.

Rubin says 12 million is “not insignificant, but less than I’d expect it to be if you really want to win,” the Verge reports.

The problem, Rubin told reporters at a conference today, is that consumers don’t understand they are buying into “the Google ecosystem,” when they buy an Android  tablet from a third-party gadgetmaker like HTC or Samsung. 

“The educated consumer realises it now that they’re either picking the Apple ecosystem or the Microsoft ecosystem or the Google ecosystem… we’re going to do a better job at making people understand what ecosystem they’re buying into,” said Rubin, according to The Verge.

Unlike Apple iPads, which are designed, built, and marketed by one company, Android-based tablets have software designed by Google, hardware built by manufacturers, and marketing from multiple parties – retailers, manufacturers, carriers, and sometimes Google.

Because of this, consumers don’t really know who they are buying a tablet from, and whose ecosystem they are buying into.

The solution to this problem seems simple – and already at hand.

Google just spent $12.5 billion to acquire Motorola Mobility, which makes Android tablets and smartphones. 

Obviously, Google is going to the Apple route, and start designing the software, hardware, and marketing for Google-branded Android tablets, right?


At the same conference, Rubin told reporters that after the Motorola acquisition is complete, there will be a “firewall” between his development team and the gadget designers at Motorola.  He said the devices will continue to be branded as Motorola devices in marketing campaigns.

The reason is simple. Right now, Motorola devices only own a tiny slice of Android’s marketshare. Other phone builders, like HTC and Samsung, have been much more successful at selling gadgets using Google’s software. Rubin says he can’t alienate those companies by giving them the impression that Motorola will get favoured status.

Says Rubin: “Even if I was completely insane, it wouldn’t make any sense for me to think that we could get Motorola to be 90 plus per cent marketshare.”

If this has you wondering why, exactly, Google dropped $12.5 billion on Motorola, a loser in the industry that threatens to weigh down Google’s awesome profit margins, then you should join the club. 

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