Google claims that the company is looking to collaborate with various Android hardware manufacturers, in an effort to make those devices competitive with Apple’s iPhone and iPad devices that are built around the beastly A series chip.
The claim, however, has largely been met with skepticism by those in the know, with some industry experts going so far as to call Google’s aspirations a “long shot.”
Over the years, Apple has increasingly expanded the customization of it’s home-brewed, A series application processors, enabling them to more deeply integrate with iOS software and hardware, specifically on the iPad and iPhone.
This has been a paramount advantage for Apple, as Google continues to struggle with releasing offerings that are functionally effective and competitive from a hardware standpoint.
According to Amir Efrati of The Information, Google has been in talks with several different hardware-manufacturing partners to develop chips that enable devices to perform tasks, like snapping and uploading photos to the cloud, more efficiently. Additionally, the company is said to want more onboard processor memory, as well as an improved motion processor — a la Apple’s M9 — that will provide for increased power efficiency, better sensors, and an “always on” voice assistant application like Apple’s Siri.
Obstacles to actualizing the plan
As Efrati notes, however, there are several roadblocks in the way of Google realizing its aspirations.
“Profit margins of Android handset brands are already severely pressured, so that can be a tough sell when the less-powerful chips are good enough.”
Additionally, Google’s attempt to turn hardware device manufacturers into commodity producers is a bit lofty.
“Persuading chip makers to use designs put forward by Google seems like a long shot to people in that industry. The top vendors, such as Qualcomm and MediaTek, are likely to value their own technology over that developed by others, either because they make money from licensing their own tech; they don’t want to depend on a third party like Google; or they wouldn’t want to churn out a product that might be identical to one that’s produced by other Google partners.”
An attempt by Google to manipulate chipmakers by dictating its own designs would also, more than likely, expand the scope of current antitrust investigations that are currently unfolding in the United States and Europe.
A failed attempt
Android fans may recall Google’s most recent attempt to postulate a standardized Android experience. Last year, at the company’s I/O summit, Google’s newest chief executive, Sundar Pichai, outlined plans for what he referred to as “Android One” — a new strategy that specifically targeted users in the Indian market, and aimed to create both low cost and high quality handsets.
Under Android One, by working with certain partners, Google was able to design a $100, functional product running the latest version of Android 6.0, dubbed Marshmallow. As noted by Ron Amadeo of Ars Android, however, “the program was a commercial flop.”
“Google started with online-only sales for three months, which angered local retailers. This also cut Android One off from customers, since most phones in India are sold in small shops. Google’s control over the program angered OEMs, who would rather pick from a wide variety of components and vendors to maximize profit. As a result, OEMs don’t advertise the devices (though Google does) and don’t care too much about selling them. For instance, one Indian Android One OEM, Micromax, bailed on the program after only two months and signed a deal with Cyanogen, Inc.”
So, as it seems, Google may have a long way to go before they can bring anything to the table that can effectively compete with the powerhouse that is Apple’s current A9 chip. Although we live in a world where anything is possible, theoretically speaking, Google definitely has its work cut out if the Mountain View search giant wants to mimic the commercial success of its arch rival: Apple, whose iPhone and iPad devices continue to dominate the markets both at home and abroad.