Perhaps it’s karma, because Google, whose Android operating system has become as dominant on mobile devices as Microsoft has been on desktops, has announced that it will not be adapting its apps for Windows 8 or Windows Phone.
In an interview with UK technology news site V3, product management director Clay Bavor said this week that his company has “no plans to build out Windows apps.” He added that Google is “very careful about where we invest and will go where the users are but they are not on Windows Phone or Windows 8.”
In the Driver’s Seat
It’s all about numbers, he indicated. If the situation in user numbers changes, Bavor said, “we would invest there, of course.” Currently, the company is focused on apps for Android and for Apple’s iOS, although it has released a dedicated search app for Windows 8.
Of course, the two companies are key competitors on a wide variety of fronts, including cloud-based productivity apps, search, cloud platforms, online advertising and more.
Bavor’s perspective about Google’s relative position is shared at the top of Google. This week, Chairman Eric Schmidt explicitly compared his company’s dominant position to Microsoft’s among desktop systems at the end of the last century. In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, he noted that Android customers are activating 1.3 million devices every day, and said that Android is “winning that war pretty clearly now.”
As the center of gravity has shifted to mobile, Google is now in the driver’s seat that Microsoft once occupied. In November, industry research firm IDC found that Android had 75% of the world market share in mobile, with 15% for Apple’s iOS and about 2% for Windows Phone 7/Windows Mobile. IDC does see some growth for the Windows Phone platform, reaching 11% market share by 2016.
Unclear Sales Numbers
In the U.S., ComScore recently found Android with 53%, Apple with 33% and Windows Phone at just above 3 percent.
The current base of users for Windows 8 and Windows Phone is not entirely clear, since Microsoft has selectively released sales figures. At the end of last month, the company said Windows Phone sales were up 300%, but declined to say the actual numbers. Microsoft has said it has sold 40 million Windows 8 licenses, but it’s not clear how many are upgrades, or sales to consumers, distributors/retailers or OEMs.
In late November, The NPD Group reported that, “since the Windows 8 launch on October 26, Windows device sales have fallen 21% since the same period last year.” Some of that sales drop, NPD said, is attributable to the ongoing weakness in the PC market. It also said that “Windows 8 tablet sales have been almost non-existent, with unit sales representing less than 1 percent of all Windows 8 devices sales to date.”