What's the Difference Between Android and Google? And Why Does it Matter?

In the same article where Samsung revealed their plans for Android, they dropped a very interesting nugget regarding the status of Android. Samsung gave a clear distinction between the Android OS and "Google Experience" devices, lining themselves more with Android than with Google.

To quote:

[Samsung] drew a distinction between devices built on the Android platform and "Google Experience" devices, which not only use Android but are also Google-centric, packed with the search giant's own applications. "Our commitment is more to the Android phone than the Google Experience device,".

This whole time, we've been lumping Android and Google together, believing that they were one and the same. Android was Google and Google was Android, the lines were blurred, there was no difference. Could we have been wrong?

Read on to see what Android Central thinks the phone industry thinks about Android and Google!

Samsung's Stance

Could it be possible that the phone manufacturers weren't as eager to work with Google as they were excited to work with Android?

Think about it for a second. Imagine you're Samsung (or any phone manufacturer) and you hear about this new smartphone Operating System--Android, they call it. It's open source, it's free, and it's good. People are excited about this mobile operating system because it represents openness and change. You're excited about this operating system because it's free of course, and because it's open--you're no longer forced into doing what Microsoft wants you to do, you're no longer forced into cooking up your own software. Absolutely no question, you are on board with Android. Where do I sign up?

Then when developing your Android devices, the ginormously big and ridiculously powerful Google stomps on by and starts snooping around. Poking turns to prodding, asking turns to demanding, and slowly openness becomes closed. They want you to add a Google logo, they want a dedicated search button, they want this and they want that. They want more Google and less Android.

Now you're confused. Weren't you supposed to be able to have free reign and create your own device? Weren't you just working with the carriers and offering a fresh new device? Isn't the point of open source to have it however you want? Why is Google so involved?

Take a look at the first Android Device: the T-Mobile G1. Automatically, the name tips the user off. G1. Google 1. Googlephone. And if it's not the name, the branding certainly would. The T-Mobile G1 with Google. Yep, it's on the back of every G1. Watch a G1 commercial and try not to think of Google. Samsung (et al) couldn't have that. They needed their devices to be recognized as Samsung. Omnia. Instinct. And so on. So they waited.

Google's Stance

But was having Google involved a bad thing? Android needed a name, a face, a brand. And what better brand to give it than the most friendly, most used technology in the world? Google. The first batch of Android phones needed to be directly tied with Google because in the world of Apple iPhones, Blackberrys, and Windows Mobile, no one would know what an Android was. They would certainly know Google though.

So Google needed to be hands on. It's not that Google personally wanted Googlephones in existence, but they knew customers wanted a Google phone. So they needed partners that would take a back seat to Google and allow Google to call the shots. Insert HTC. While Samsung (and LG and Motorola and Sony Ericsson) wanted to create their own brand of Android devices, HTC was willing to play Google's game. Let it be called the Google phone, let it be marketed however Google wanted to, let it be Google's baby.

Google was right in that in order to build a brand name out of Android, Google needed to be in the conversation. Other manufacturers outside of HTC couldn't risk being second fiddle so they delayed their phones until they could do it their way. According to Samsung, they claimed that "some operators were concerned about the vision Google has [and] that affected [timing],". Could we have finally found the reason why there are so few Android devices? Is it because Google's current motive is to put the Google in Android?

What It Means For Us

Do you guys remember the Kogan Agora? That was supposed to be the world's Second Android Device. Well, does anyone have an Agora? No, it was delayed by Google for screen issues. Could it be that Google wasn't done branding Android enough that it needed another HTC built 'Googlephone' out first? Did Google encourage and nudge all these phone manufacturers to take their time in building their Android Devices? Were the phone manufacturers ready for Android but Android not ready for them?

Honestly, we don't know. But there has to be a real reason why there are no Android Devices other than HTC built, Google branded ones. There has to be a reason why everyone is staying quiet on actual Android hardware, why every release date is slated for the second half of 2009. It's been too long, the phone manufacturers should have put out an Android device by now. We should've had multiple form factors, different carriers, and countless options by now. There has to be a reason.

What do you guys think? Do you think this speculation is feasible? Any theories of your own? Tell us in the comments!

Casey Chan
  • Feel the burn MS has to deal with everyday. The competitive advance of starting from scratch goes away quickly as more hardware vendors adopt it. It's best to get it right the first time. Reworking things later will be extremely expensive.
  • Makes sense to me. I wanted a Google phone. I got a Google phone.
  • Muy buen articulo. Google es un a empresa, y el desarrollo de Android ha debido de costar un dinero y ese dinero lo tiene que rentabilizar de algun modo.
  • Great article, and it makes perfect sense. One wonders if Google didnt some how guarantee HTC exclusivity for the first few months of Android so that they could profit from helping out Google launch their OS. (well, its not "their" OS per say, but you know what I mean) In the end, if your theory is correct about the Google brand, it worked. The reason I got a G1 is because of the Google brand. I was (am) not all that thrilled about the T-Mobile service coming from Sprint. Its alright and all, but the idea of having a Google phone I can check my Gmail from, and use Google Talk from, check my Google Calendar, and my Google contacts from all out of the box was intreguing. If the next few Android devices dont have the same G1 Google friendlyness, I dont know that I will be as excited about them, but only time will tell. In the end, more Android is a GREAT thing... now about those net books. :)
  • Have to agree. I can't tell you how many times in the past week I've needed to find the address to some place and get directions and the G1 proved faster and easier than even using Google on the desktop. Yes Google search is embedded but I'm already using Google on the desktop so no big deal. I do take issue with various articles and companies (that means you AT&T) claiming Android forces people into Google services. Give me a break! Sign up with a Gmail acct. You NEVER have to use it. I have my Live.com mail being sent to my G1. What other Google services are they talking about? YouTube? The entire PLANET uses it! Google Search? What are your options? Yahoo and Microsoft. What search engine do you think the millions of Windows Mobile phones running 6.5 or 7 will be using? Must be AltaVista because Microsoft Live Search would be too logical an answer. Th whole Google "resistance is futile; you will be assimilated" mentality infesting the web is clearly based on personal feelings about Google. Open IE and type anything. You'll get MS Live Search. Yet I fail to hear all the uproar over being "forced" to us MS branded products. Since I'm on my tirade, personally, I think using Gmail as an integral part of contacts is a good idea. How many have lost phones and subsequently lost ALL their contacts? "You could just use Outlook and Active Sync and back them up and keep them sync'd", one might argue. But wait!!! That means you'd be "forced" into using Microsoft products! Isn't that the same argument as Google? And yet with Google, once you have your contact sync'd - even if you loose your phone - simply get a new one, log on with your Gmail credentials and after a couple of minutes you're back in business. Don't get me wrong. Not hating on Microsoft. Just pointing out that the standards being applied to Google aren't being equally applied to Microsoft and even Apple.
  • I totally agree with everything you say. But the I thought that the whole point of android was to be unbranded. Which is impossible because anyone would want credit for thier work.
  • Quote: "Th whole Google "resistance is futile; you will be assimilated" mentality infesting the web is clearly based on personal feelings about Google. Open IE and type anything. You'll get MS Live Search. Yet I fail to hear all the uproar over being "forced" to us MS branded products." Uuuummm... there was this little thing called a Monopoly trial... perhaps you've heard of it? MS has been slammed, and even taken to court, for their bundling ways. And Apple is in court now dealing with the same issue. Read up, pal. Everyone big gets hit. -bZj
  • except that Microsoft doesn't have any mobile OS anti-trust suits going on right now, so it's out of scope.
  • I think the idea that an open source device OS equates to a low cost DEVICE is a failed assumption.
  • great piece. one thing to keep in mind...all google wants to do is to get people to use search on their mobile phones. search/ads is how google makes 98% of its revenues. they don't want OS market share, per say...they just want OS's that are capable of surfing the mobile net (smartphones are the only devices that offer this effectively)...b/c if they surf the mobile net, chances are, they are going to need google to find stuff. i have a feeling they are trying to make their brand as ubiquitous on the mobile web as they are on the pc. but i have a feeling it is more the mobile operator and device makers that are pushing back as this is an industry with stodgy incumbents...esp. the operators. "open" doesn't necessarily make phone makers nervous, but it def. makes the operators nervous. the phone makers have to be mediators now, and not piss of the operators. (i.e. skype on iphone is going to be a headache). i realize that makes google sound innocen...but in my opinion google is wasting their time if they are doing anything in the way of making demands on device makers...as those guys are ultimately at the mercy of the operators.
  • I am a big fan of Google, but I do try to keep an open mind when considering it's products with others. I don't want to fall prey to a label.
    When I was shopping for smart phones, the Google phone was at the top of my list. But, with all the research I did, it turned out that the BlackBerry was the best for my needs, where were business first and personal/entertainment second. This article was quite educational in explaining for me that Android and Google are not one in the same. I suspected but did not know that. This is my first time straying outside the crackberry arena....it's interesting, but I can't wait to wander back home. ;) Thanks for having me!
  • Google integration is one thing that makes Android so nice. Samsung has nothing equivalent (neither does Nokia, although they are trying), so it's not like they're in competition.
  • I was (am) not all that thrilled about the T-Mobile service coming from Sprint. Its alright and all, but the idea of having a Google phone I can check my Gmail from, and use Google Talk from, check my Google Calendar.
  • Good point, their cooperation is the brightest side of this business, as I believe.
  • All blablabla and heated discussions aside, I think Google has a point. Skip the crap about everyone using this or that software or service, it's just proper marketing, nothing else (and no, I'm not a Google fanboy, although I like what they're offering over services of others, I'm not a being fan at all of EAAS - Everything as a service). Simply look at Android in it's current form on the G1 (T-Mobile Netherlands v1.1 RC9): - No BT except for your headset
    - No voicedialling
    - No accessing your contact list from the dialpad or messaging application
    -etc The phone is great and has great potential but utterly fails at some of the most important basics and this is where stuff starts to make sense, just project a few scenarios: 1: Android can be used by everyone
    This means more brands are throwing an unfinished OS in the market, which can lead to 2 things: A) The consumer market generally comes to accept that the OS as it is now sucks and reverts to using 'old' brands and types of phones, or B) the brands offering Android phones will do heavy modifications themselves, resulting in a shitload of linux-style Android distros. 2: Google keeps Android in it's pocket for now
    This will allow Google and the Android team to work out the significant flaws and issues that are present today (lack of functionality, bugs, etc).
    Since it's Google, people won't mind the near-constant beta phase of their products while it allows for a lot of word-of-mouth marketing by early and not-so-early adopters.
    With this limited userbase, feedback will hold more merit than the cacophony of the masses and has as such more chance of leading to positive change in the product. Yes it's open source and yes it should stay so, but it will not do to have parallel development or to pursue a course of action that will have the OS die a premature death. This alone should be enough to allow Google to work out at least some of the most important stuff mentioned above. Just my 5 cents, Have a good day today!
  • http://www.roguelink.us Ok it is not a pretty website but it was created using Google start from Google apps. My question is: http://www.roguelink.us work fine with the IPod and does not worth at all with the G1? After all this page was purely created using Google app. The answer maybe I should use 'Create Site' rather than the 'Start Page' No problem with that. However I miss the quick and dirty way of the Start Page from the Google apps. This does not really answer the question why roguelink.us work fine with the IPod and not with the G1 so... Any idea?
  • Why can we sign up with our own email (Powered by Gmail) like jacques@roguelink.us rather than jacques@gmail.com they both use pop.Gmail.com and smtp.gmail.com? Users using their own domain hosted by Google will prefer to have email notification to their own email rather than the one with are force to @gmail.com Any idea?
  • Google is awesome anyway.. If I had a phone built on android that didn't have all the Google features built in, then I probably wouldn't buy it. I use all these features on a daily basis.
  • "Why can we sign up with our own email (Powered by Gmail) like jacques@roguelink.us rather than jacques@gmail.com they both use pop.Gmail.com and smtp.gmail.com?" You can. The G1 has a regular E-mail client that supports IMAP and POP. (Or you can host your E-mail domain at Google or forward your mail and use your domain for replies, even through Google's SMTP server.)
  • I am today returning this T-Mobile G1. I don't want Microsnatch determining what I do with what I purchase and I don't like Google being the new Microsnatch. Using "awesome" Google everyday saves our Government money! Databases? No need to spend on "intelligence gathering", corporations already hold more data about citizens than Government agencies ever did, even under Bush. Android is REALLY impressive and so is Scroogle! Thank you for this. ANDROID RULES!
  • What if Google replace the Android home page with your own www.(whatever).com powered by Google to absolutely personalized your own identity to be shared or not with the rest of the world? - The email (powered by Gmail) will be johndoe@(wathever).com rather than johndoe@(gmail).com
    - The Home Mobile Page will be your own (Created by yourself or a default page made by Google for your own domain)
    - The YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Monster, EBay, Spreadsheet, Word etc..... will simply be gadget that can be drag and drop to your Home Page. What a paradox individual could have total control of sharing or not from their own contact list all the object mentioned above but on an other hand what an involuntary Monopoly for Google... Well I guess Microsoft could do the same with MS Mobile. But Microsoft did not get out of the monopoly concept yet and they don't think as quick and are not as open as Google. So I'll stick with the G1 and not the Mondi!
  • So erm, if Google aren't responsible for the development of the Androi platform; who is?
  • Personnally, I'd get an Adroid phone for the "open-sourceness", not the "googleness" of the whole thing. I don't use Gmail or Google docs or anything.
  • Google's R&D funding for Android development is tiny, as is the team. Those guys have to make do with the scraps Google tosses at them every once in awhile. In comparison to their other products/services, Google doesn't care all that much about Android (they don't have to). Android was created as an "effortless" effort to sink Microsoft Windows Mobile. Once the open-source beast known as "Android" got out, the rest would essentially take care of itself. Still, I have got to give Google major credit as Android is great, and keeps getting better!
  • all google had to do was create the skeleton for the os, make the base stable, and send it out for the rest of the world to do with. great programmers take an interest (and the not so great too) and add to android one part at a time, on a massive worldwide scale... for cheap or free. at pennies compared to what ms and apple spend on their closed os, android can be poised to take the best of the rest and forge a better path at the same time. if android gets adopted to high/mid/and low end devices, expect it to be the dominant OS industrywide within say... 2-3 years?
  • So, lets lay down a few things and shatter a few myths.... First, Android is a Google baby and will remain that even if it is Open Source.... Does any one here remember the SUN Solaris saga ? Open source ... closed source ... OS source leak lead back to open sourcing it again ..... Yet, SUN still owns and controls solaris.... Google created Android, Google owns Android ..... Google can do what ever the flying flip it wants with Android and you the user can't say a bloody word because, they are the software / OS author and vendor..... Meaning even if it is open source they still OWN IT. This is why they chose the APACHE Software License ... ABove all other reasons! So, that THEY maintain CONTROL...... There should never be any doubt that Google will do what Google wants with the OS.... They figure that by making vendors wait till they are willing to do what google wants them to do via popular demand for Android will outweigh vendor desires to control the OS..... Google is much more insidious than Microsoft ...... At least Microsoft has the reserve not to catalog and share everything you do on your computer with advertising companies. Google IS THE BIGGEST INTERNET ADVERTISING COMPANY ION THE NET. THEY FLAT OUT TELL YOU THEY INTEND TO COLLECT STATS TO IMPROVE THEIR SEARCH! Which means they track everything you do.... They can ( and do ... ie Google Adwords.... ) sell this information...... to who ever they want.... They say this in their legal disclaimers for their dang search software terms of use even..... Google knows more about most people than the CIA or the NSA! Google's board of directors and 2 of it's founders were former CIA...... They developed this entire company to effectively gather and SELL data about customers to the highest bidder.... The very core of Android's sole purpose is to insure google can garnish even more data about it's customers..... They are pulling a total Microsoft / Apple in creating demand that forces vendors to do what they the software developer wants instead of giving them free reign..... But, if they didn't what would be the fiscal avantage behind even having created Android to begin with? Google isn't out there to be your friend ... heir out there to MAKE MONEY hence they are a publicly traded company like Microsoft , Apple, and others.... I will merely leave this thread stating while I work for Google in IT .... and I and every fellow co-worker at Google I know use either Blackberry or Motorola Q phones.........
  • Hilarious, reading all of these calm, thoughtful responses - well, except for the two conspiracy whackos - in this thread, given all of the hysterical shrieking in the Cyanogen dust-up, a mere five months later. So, maybe if Google had simply issued a public press release (instead of mailing a private C&D letter), nobody would be upset? LOL And this info from Samsung is yet another reason for me to repeat what I've said from the start; Cyanogen (and everyone else in ROM land) should have known better. It was silly to assume we could bundle the Google Experience stuff in custom Android distros. RTFM, folks. Don't blame Google because you're too dense to distinguish IP from FOSS.
  • Why would anyone confuse a search engine with a mobile OS?
  • Personally I can't wait to get the Google out of my Google Phone!!!
  • Android is simply another linux based flavor assortment. Much the same as you have Gentoo, Fedora, Ubuntu, et cetera with Linux, you're going to have Google, Samsung, AT&T, et cetera with android. It fits, because the whole thing is built on a linux kernel anyways. Pick the flavor you prefer, they'll come out. It's not Google's fault that they popped theirs out faster.
  • Interesting how this conversation continues over the months. Android evolves and slowly drags the stagnant phone industry with it. The wireless providers are trying hard to mold Android to their old market model, but the open nature of the OS and Google's desire to dominate the communications field are constantly pulling at them. Then there's the economic recession to add compelling reasons for change. Interesting times for creative people.
  • I have my Live.com as well mail being sent to my G1. What other Google services are they talking about? YouTube? The entire PLANET uses it! Google Search? What are your options? Yahoo and Microsoft. What search engine do you think the millions of Windows Mobile phones running 6.5 or 7 will be using? Must be AltaVista because Microsoft Live Search would be too logical an answer.
  • An interesting topic. Ill surely had gained an idea.
  • An interesting topic. Ill surely had gained an idea.
  • Thanks for your useful info, I think it's a good topic.
  • An interesting topic. Ill surely had gained an idea.
  • Well, I think that Google are going for World domination and soon we will be eating Google cereal for our breakfast. Could be worse though....
  • I think it does matter so that Google don't take credit for Android.
  • Hey there, thank you for the heads up, i appreciate you shared it with readers!
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  • A clear distinction should be made.
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