Dave Michels
Dave Michels is a Principal Analyst at TalkingPointz. His unique perspective on unified communications comes from a career involving telecommunications...
Read Full Bio >>

Dave Michels | April 22, 2014 |


Microsoft Android

Microsoft Android What if Microsoft and Google agreed to fork Android for the Enterprise and Consumer segments respectively?

What if Microsoft and Google agreed to fork Android for the Enterprise and Consumer segments respectively?

Last February, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak opined that Apple should make an Android phone. His justification was that Apple's styling and manufacturing abilities appeal to consumers, which would allow simultaneous success with both of the top mobile platforms. Brilliant or sacrilege?

Apple is doing just fine with iOS, but Microsoft needs to give such a radical notion serious consideration. Of course, styling and manufacturing are not as core to Microsoft as they are to Apple, so embracing Android will require a little more strategy. Nonetheless, the time is right, and there is a logical path.

It's easy to forget the time when Microsoft and Google were friendly. It was long ago, when Microsoft primarily sold applications and operating systems, and Google primarily offered a search service. Today the companies overlap--and compete--extensively: Chrome and Internet Explorer, Windows and ChromeOS, Office and Google Apps, Bing and Google Search, Windows Azure and Google App engine, and of course Android and Windows Mobile.

Mobility is an area where Microsoft is reeling. Earlier this month, Microsoft announced (conceded) Office for iOS, and offered free versions of its mobile operating system to device makers. Office was considered the linchpin for the success of Surface, which now has a questionable future.

Since the iPhone launched in 2007, Microsoft has been trying unsuccessfully to catch up to Apple and subsequently Google. At the Microsoft Developers conference, Microsoft announced several new compelling mobile enhancements. In "Why Microsoft will likely keep its bronze medal in the mobile computing marathon," Gigaom's Kevin Tofel explained the improvements "would be impressive...if Apple and Google didn't exist." The mobile share gap is huge, and we've heard this Zune before.

End users keep getting caught in the cross-fire as Microsoft and Google mutually work to hurt each other. There were Microsoft's anti-Google campaigns Scroogled and "Bing it on." And Google's efforts to sabotage the experience for those of its own customers who also use Microsoft by killing Exchange ActiveSync protocol on Gmail and breaking YouTube on Windows Mobile. The list goes on.

Despite huge product overlaps, Microsoft seems secure in Enterprise solutions, and Google thrives in the consumer space. This creates the opportunity for a truce. What if Microsoft and Google agreed to fork Android for the different segments?

Android consists of two major components: Android Open Source Platform (AOSP) and Google Mobile Services (GMS). AOSP is the open source, free part. It is available to anyone who wants to use the basic UI and kernel with few restrictions--and many people have. Conversely, GMS is not free, not open, and tightly controlled. GMS includes the Google Play Store and Google Apps, and has all the key APIs for services such as location awareness and remote wipe. GMS is the strategic part of Android, and it's where the innovation occurs.

What if there was a third component to Android--say Microsoft Mobile Services, or MMS? This would be similar to GMS, but require Microsoft credentials. It would include Mobile Office apps, Exchange ActiveSync, and access to a new Microsoft application store--potentially called "Work," which would focus on business applications. Android devices could support MMS, GMS, or both on the same device.

It's clear why this makes sense for Microsoft. It assures relevance in the mobile era for both Microsoft and its soon-to-be-acquired Nokia division. But why would Google go along with it? It may not--it already has the leadership position in mobile. Though this would strengthen Android against its top mobile competitor, iOS. Microsoft may have to give Google a bit more for an invitation to the Android party--perhaps an agreement to shut down Bing (another Microsoft cash sink).

The timing is right with Satya Nadella's arrival as the new Microsoft CEO. Both companies will benefit from controlling the number one mobile OS platform, and Android will benefit from the combined R&D and ecosystem. Think of the tremendous innovation in mobility if Microsoft were to redirect what it is currently spending on the development and marketing of its mobile platform. It would also eliminate considerable confusion in the market for consumers, enterprises, and independent software vendors.

As Wozniak suggested, it's time to focus on the business and the customers, not ideological battles. There's unmet demand to satisfy. Let's get on with it.

Dave Michels is a Contributing Editor and Analyst at TalkingPointz.

Follow Dave Michels on Twitter and Google+!
Dave Michels on Google+


July 12, 2017

Enterprises have been migrating Unified Communications & Collaboration applications to datacenters - private clouds - for the past few years. With this move comes the opportunity to leverage da

May 31, 2017

In the days of old, people in suits used to meet at a boardroom table to update each other on their work. Including a remote colleague meant setting a conference phone on the table for in-person pa

April 19, 2017

Now more than ever, enterprise contact centers have a unique opportunity to lead the way towards complete, digital transformation. Moving your contact center to the cloud is a starting point, quick

July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.