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Google Play Might Mean Google Will Finally Get Serious about Mobile Enterprises

Google Play Might Mean Google Will Finally Get Serious about Mobile Enterprises

Summary: Google's announcement today that it would rename the Android Market to Google Play is the equivalent of Target renaming itself Toys R' Us. What was once a general purpose department store open to consumer and businessperson alike is now 100% all about the fun.

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Google's announcement today that it would rename the Android Market to Google Play is the equivalent of Target renaming itself Toys R' Us. What was once a general purpose department store open to consumer and businessperson alike is now 100% all about the fun.

Despite ex-CEO, current Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt's background with enterprise vendors like Sun Microsystems and Novell, Google has never really put a ton of focus on enterprises, certainly no more than Apple has.

The obvious interpretation of changing the name of its Android storefront to Google Play is that Google is reducing its efforts marketing and catering to businesses.

I think, however, it could actually signal a new push towards businesses by Google.

Here's my thinking, which is not the result of any inside information: the Android Market was already huge, with 450,000 apps. Those apps are now being intermingled with movies, music, e-books, etc.

The Android Market wasn't built with enterprise in mind. Neither the flexible payment, pricing and high-touch marketing options desired by enterprise app makers, nor the security and app management capabilities that IT managers want.

Indeed, while general-purpose productivity apps like communications tools and document viewers were popular enough to surface in the Android Market, true enterprise apps - your CRM dashboards, your analytics viewers, your HR applets - tended to drown in that ocean of content. That problem only gets worse in Google Play.

The intermingling with more consumer content also means that many CIOs, already nervous about "crapplications" or malware-infested apps on the Android Market, may become even more hesitant about directing their employees to download their work apps there.

But...I think it's impossible that Google is planning a major retreat from the enterprise market. It's just too big and too smart for that. Nor do I think that Google believes that the Consumerization of IT trend will be so huge that it will overturn all traditional IT.

So I have to believe - and again, this is not based on any inside knowledge - that even as Google separates out its consumer-focused content, it will make an enterprise reboot, by doing one, some or all of the following things:

1) preparing its own Enterprise App Store, likely an aggregator or common cloud-based store tailored to showcase and demo these high-end apps;

2) opening up Android's APIs more to make it easier for Mobile Device Management (MDM) software such as Sybase Afaria to build full-fledged internal Enterprise App Stores;

3) partnering with ISVs building Enterprise App Stores that are more tailored to business buyers than Android Market ever was or could be. These include SAP with its new SAP Store for Mobile Apps. I haven't thought through exactly how such a partnership would best work.

So contrary to appearances, I suspect Google has something up its sleeve for enterprises. And I'm dying to find out what it is.

Topics: UberMobile, Google, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, BlackBerry, Security, Tablets

Eric Lai

About Eric Lai

I have tracked technology for more than 15 years, as an award-winning journalist and now as in-house thought leader on the mobile enterprise for SAP. Follow me here at ÜberMobile as well as my even less-filtered musings on Twitter @ericylai

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3 comments
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  • Google Play

    My guess is that google will launch a game console so maybe thats why they change the name.
    abrahamv48
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  • Actually Eric....

    Google has been in a rechecking mode on its ROI from its different products and projects. Picnic was canned. So was Google Labs. Many other non-cash flow products look to be canned.

    I bet except for Google Apps none of their Enterprise pushes have made any money. And Google Apps is a low margin offering with heavy maintenance fee on the Cloud and Data Center.

    Google's main product is its Consumer Search Engine and the attached ad offerings. That is where its get its margins, cash flow and profits. Other products including Motorola's make no profits.

    This is part of the long list of GE-like focus reengagement which Larry Page talked about when became CEO in April '11.

    My bet is except for Google Apps, Gmail, Google Search, Android and its app store and Chrome browser, Google will drop Chrome Books, Chrome OS, Enterprise Mobile efforts and partly even Google Docs from the Apps offering etc. All these projects make no money and are wasted shareholder money.

    Finally Microsoft and Google may in fact be no longer competitors except in the above five areas after a few years (with Microsoft's cloud Office 365, Hotmail, Bing and Windows Phone offerings).

    By pursuing a strategy where they competed with every product from Microsoft and Oracle and Apple, Google has spread itself too thin and now actually looks vulnerable in its core area unless it does all these cuts.

    My 2 cents without inside information. I also have to disclose I am not an employee of any of these companies. Nor do I have inside information. Nor do I own any stock of these companies.
    calahan