Episode 20: Android

September 16, 2016
73 min

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Ben & David examine Google’s 2005 purchase of Android for a rumored $50M, undeniably one of the best technology acquisitions of all time. But will it top the list of these tough graders? Tune in to find out.
Topics covered include:
  • Welcome new listeners! We quickly review the show format for newbies. 
  • Community spotlight: Patagonia on a Budget from community member Matt Morgante (@mattm on Slack)
  • Andy Rubin’s career trajectory and what made him “born to start Android"
  • The undeniable “cool factor” of the Danger Sidekick in the early/mid-2000’s, including fans such as Larry Page, Sergey Brin and… Turtle from Entourage 
  • Android’s original ambition to build an operating system for… digital cameras
  • WebTV founder Steve Perlman is pretty much the best friend ever 
  • Google’s own perspective on Android as their “best deal ever"
  • The Android team’s reaction to Steve Jobs unveiling the iPhone in January 2007, and redesigning the initial launch hardware 
  • Announcing Android and—equally importantly—the Open Handset Alliance (“OHA”)
  • The much-talked-about "mobile holy wars", between Android’s “open” platform and Apple’s “closed” platform 
  • The less-talked-about US carrier wars with the iPhone + AT&T in one camp, and everyone else in the Google / OHA camp (including “Droid Does”)
  • A quirk of history: HTC at one point acquires a majority share in Beats, resulting a short-lived period of Beats-branded Android phones (still available on Amazon!)
  • The real battleground for Google in the mobile platform wars: the economics of “default search” (briefly known thanks to the Oracle/Java lawsuit against Google
  • Google’s detour into smartphone hardware with the acquisition (and subsequent divestiture) of Motorola 
  • The “fork-ability” of Android via the Android Open Source Project (versus “Google Android”), and the rise of Xiaomi, Cyanogen, Kindle Fire and other platforms
  • The ecosystem economics of the Android business for Google 
  • “Defensive” versus “offensive” acquisitions, and protecting Google’s core search business 
  • Could (or would) Google have built an Android-like platform without acquiring Android the company (or having Andy Rubin)?
  • Framing the technology world’s shift to mobile within (surprise) Ben Thompson’s Aggregation Theory
  • The current “moving up the stack” of the competitive playing field as the mobile landscape matures 
  • Grading: Android versus Instagram?
Hot Takes:
  • The iPhone 7 (and AirPods) announcement 
The Carve Out:

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