Google needs to overcome some obstacles on their journey to fight Apple
Google's biggest hurdle now is going to be competing with Samsung, but we have a few options here. Remember Google acquired Motorola and now we're hearing about 'X-phone', which would compete with the likes of Samsung's phones as well as the iPhone. The smartphone market is worth some $220 billion or so - expect Google to take this seriously.
Google could use Motorola to release Nexus, or this new X-phone as the new, new Android platform. I'm talking about Android 5.0 "Key Lime Pie" here, folks. The step from Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" to Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean", was in my opinion, a huge change in Android as a competitor to iOS. No longer was Google behind in the software game, they put the pedal to the metal and blew past iOS leaving them covered in their Jelly Bean dust.
I think this is why they used cut-throat pricing on their Nexus 4 handset, to gauge public interest - and most of all, reaction - to a super-powerful, up-to-date smartphone. I reviewed one close to release and have it as my daily phone as there is nothing else on the market that remotely interests me when the Nexus 4 is here. If it wasn't that would be different, and there's still millions who haven't used the Nexus. It doesn't have the same marketing power that Samsung does - which is something Google will have to work on.
Marketing sells phones, not specs. How many people do you know own an iPhone 5 and can list its specs to you? I would only have one, and Tristan, I know you'll read this editorial. The others, "just have an iPhone 5". Android phones on the other hand, don't have that same sense of "brand name" as the iPhone does, so they sell themselves more on specs: bigger screens, more RAM, quad-core processor, etc.
It's the same argument as Mac vs. PC. PC users have all the specs in the world, but then with a Mac it "just works" easier because it's all tied into itself, so most users don't care about speed. There are of course different breeds of users, who love specs but still love Apple users - I'm not leaving you out.
Google need to have the power over their partners to make them offer no UIs and a stock Android ROM available to all. Samsung would have a much better chance completely taking Apple over by offering a Galaxy S IV next year, and at the same time offer a stock Android 4.x (or 5.x?) ROM available to those who want to have the stock Android experience without the TouchWiz UI all over it.
I don't see Google doing this as it would take business away from their Nexus and future X-phone departments, which is a thorn in the side of any Android-based maker right now. Samsung's turn around success of the last few years can be virtually wholly contributed to their Galaxy range of products, which run Android, so it's really thanks to Google.
But Samsung's success has helped push Android out into the mainstream, so it has been a give-and-take relationship between Google and Samsung. Google have given Samsung this power, and are going to need to take it away.
Google's Project Glass
Ah, Project Glass. This is where I think smartphones will begin to disappear and wearable computing will become the new multi-billion-dollar market. Smartphones can't just continue to get thinner and faster, or else we're going to be in the same boat that we're in right now with desktop PCs. Huge amounts of power, but what would really push all of it?
We're already at quad-core processors, 2GB of RAM and high-res displays. If we continued on this path, at the same rate of advancements, we'd be on 12-core processors, 12GB of RAM and 4K displays in a 4- to 5-inch smartphone in 3-4 years. This won't happen, period. You can come back to this editorial in 3-4 years time and tell me I'm right, I'm that confident.
Google aren't looking at the now, they're looking all the way into the future. Wearable computing is getting to the point of being realistic as technology is constantly shrinking, and with Google's powerhouse services like Gmail, Maps, Navigation, Google+, Google Now, and many more - an augmented reality-powered set of glasses would really transform the entire technology industry.
Google won't just offer their OS to other vendors to slap into glasses, this will be "Google's iPhone". This will be the product that makes every single person want them, now. The market is ready for it, just like they were for the first iPhone. It's all about services, and if any company has the services to offer a proper wearable computing device to sell to the masses, it's Google.
Augmented reality glasses like Google's Glasses would be incredible: imagine wearing a pair and receiving a call - I'm sure there'd be an option to press the earpiece to accept the call and you talk away without holding the phone. Wonderful.
You'd like to find directions to a restaurant? Sure - just say where you'd like to go and there'll be a virtual arrow pointing in front of you like it's right there physically, in front of you.
Imagine the advancements augmented reality would receive over the years - better displays, faster tech inside, software advancements like we saw from iOS 1.x and Android 1.x to now. The advancements would be absolutely huge and it would be life-changing. This is exciting stuff.