Google gets it. They finally do.
Two things struck a chord in me last week. First came the Android commercial — something I cried out for a while ago. This commercial nailed the gestus of Android (to borrow a term from my previous incarnation as an actor).
Be together, not the same.
We all know what that slogan hints at. I need not spell it out. Beyond the jab at Apple, the commercial brings to light that everyone can use Android — not just nerds, geeks, and elites... everyone. The commercial not only highlights that fact, it celebrates it. This was Google's way of saying, "We support the human race in all its wonderful colors, shapes, sizes, and forms!"
Finally, there's an advertisement that bridges the platform to the people and not just devices. Why is that important? Because, unlike iOS, Android is much more than the sum total of the devices it powers. Android is community, flexibility, and (to some extent) openness. Android gives a power to the people the likes that only one other platform has to offer — Linux. So, it makes perfect sense that Google finally created an advertisement to celebrate the joie de vivre so thoroughly woven through the fabric of Android.
Google doesn't need to pimp a piece of hardware, it only needs to put on display what Android can do for the individual and for the masses — together, not the same. It sums it all up so elegantly. With Android, you can come together without losing that which makes you you.
The second chord struck in me was all about the switch. Of course, Google isn't one to stop with just an advertisement. In similar fashion to Apple wooing Android users, Google came out with a guide to help iOS users make the switch. This is yet another something I've covered on a number of occasions, and Google has made it incredibly simple for users jumping the iOS ship to get their photos, music, contacts, and calendars from iOS to Android, plus set up their email and messaging and find their favorite apps.
Prior to this new and improved outreach, one of the biggest complaints from new Android users was that it was too hard. For some users, Android offers too much in the way of options and settings, and they find it a bit daunting. Other users find this the biggest draw to the platform. Google read the writing on the wall and is doing everything it can to make that transition easier for more users. Even with Android Lollipop, there'll be a more unified and consistent experience across devices.
One of the issues surrounding Android is that the platform itself can easily get lost in the wash of devices. Apple users have been trained to buy devices, not platforms (because they're inseparable). When a new Android user goes shopping, they see a veritable armada of devices to choose from — so the choice then becomes more about what smartphone looks and feels the best, or which offers more power or size. The Android platform itself almost becomes an afterthought. This is something Google needs to finally gain control of. The platform (as a whole) should come first... in the same way that consumers of Apple products are buying into an entire ecosystem.
This is the one final piece to a very large and important puzzle to Google — turning Android into a seamless ecosystem that begins and ends with the platform and is carried to the consumers via the device, instead of the other way around. Their new slogan brings this together perfectly: Be together, not the same. Once Google applies that slogan to the entire ecosystem of Google/Android/Play Store, Android will be unstoppable.
What does that take? I can think of one change that should be made. This change doesn't affect everyone, but it's one that will be seen as game changing for some.
When you think of the iPhone, you think of many things, including iTunes and music. The one failure of Google is music on the Google Play Store. Sure, they have a vast collection of music to purchase, but they don't promote it. The truth of the matter is (and this is a truth that makes me, an audiophile, cringe) that more people listen to music on their phones than anything. Android has a great platform to deliver music to the masses, but it's an afterthought in the Google Play Store. When you go to iTunes, it's all about the music. People know this. Android has yet to really perfect this experience. If they really want to get serious about mass adoption, Google needs to focus a bit more effort on making the music experience as seamless as possible.
Ecosystem. Be together, not the same.
It's amazing how far Android has come in such a short amount of time. Now that Google is taking the platform itself to the public, what they can achieve is limitless.
What do you think is Google's next best move with Android? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.