Why Android and Why Chrome

There has been a lot of discussion recently (at least among those who follow this stuff) about Android 2.0, Google Maps adding turn-by-turn navigation, and Google introducing the Chrome OS, it’s new operating system. For those who know me, I have been following Android-vs.-iPhone very closely for over a year now, and have believed from the very start that Android will win. There are a lot of similarities between Android-vs.-iPhone to the Windows/PC-vs.-Mac battles in the 1990’s, from a high level.

Android is open, like Microsoft was open: Any manufacturer or carrier could use the free Android operating system on any of their platforms. Conversely, Apple is closed. No other manufacturer is allowed to use the iPhone OS, and (at least for now) iPhone is contractually limited to AT&T.

However, this article by VC Bill Gurley lays out very clearly why the pace towards adoption of Android will accelerate: Google is sharing search revenue with its partners.

“Google will give you ad splits on search if you use that version! That’s right; Google will pay you to use their mobile OS.”

So, not only is a manufacturer like Motorola able to load the Android operating system without paying a licensing fee to anyone, if they load the Google-versioned Android operating system, they can receive a chunk of revenue from Google search that flows through their handsets. Bill Gurley dubs this “less than free“, and while I don’t agree with that name, the generally brilliant concept is that Google is buying market share for Android.

Now, step forward to Google Chrome. Google representatives have announced repeatedly that they are building an operating system called Chrome, ostensibly to take on Microsoft Windows. For a long time I questioned why, but this article makes it clear: with an operating system that HP or Dell or Acer loads (for free, of course, relative to Microsoft Windows), and with partner search revenue that flows from Google to the PC manufacturers, the adoption of Chrome will be lightning fast.