Google’s Future and Android’s Problems

It seems like every time there is an article about the future of Google, it’s always a mouthpiece for the same set of talking points: targeted advertising, net neutrality, search’s future, wireless networks, etc.

And certainly their burgeoning mobile platform Android.

After having an Android phone for a few months now, it strikes me that Google has their tentacles in some many different directions, but none of those directions are particularly tied into each other.  Android’s a serious rival to Apple’s iPhone, but Android leaves a lot to be desired.  It feels like all the pieces are in place for Google: books, mp3s, gmail, docs, contacts, the Android Market, but it doesn’t feel like any of those things are communicating with each other. 

Why hasn’t Google built a cloud-based version of iTunes?  Why isn’t there one central location to manage my Android stuff — books, music, contacts, apps — that would also seamlessly integrate with Chrome OS tablets? So, when I want to put music or a book on my phone I upload those files that automatically syncs OTA with my phone, rather than downloading third-party apps to manage those features.  Or having to turn my phone into a hard disk to drag and drop files onto it, which isn’t a big deal for some, but for others, it’s practically daunting.  Were the files added to the right folder? Did I erroneously delete something I should’ve?

It seems like an obvious thing, but it’s a big thing that keeps me from fully loving and embracing Android.  Android is easy to use, but it’s not particularly idiot-free.  It’s not intuitive.  It’s not something I feel an evangelical towards.

If Android is one major aspect of Google’s future, then they need to start thinking comprehensive big picture and not piecemeal.  Why doesn’t every Android phone get the OS update at the same time (I know the actual reason, but what I’m asking is why doesn’t Google take more control of this from manufacturers)? It’s now mid-August of 2010 and it doesn’t look like I’ll be seeing Froyo (2.2) on my Droid Incredible anytime soon.

If they are launching Google TV, well, then there should be a plan in place for how Google TV is going to function with Android and Chrome OS tablets, and how those things all integrate with the Marketplace for buying and downloading shows.

Right now, if Google is in a slump (and I’m not sure that it is), where they are coming up short is in this big picture cohesive strategy, which Apple seems to effortlessly have.  But it’s also in the polish of the products/applications they bring to market, which is the stark difference between Google Books and GooReader.  Which would you rather use?  That difference is small, but enormous.  And may ultimately be problematic for Google, if they don’t start thinking cohesive big picture.

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