"Does Google (News - Alert) compete with its customers?" Many would answer that question "yes," something that might always bode for friction in any business. Others might give a more nuanced answer. But a couple of current examples illustrate the tension.
Google, for example, already has built and sells its own branded smart phone, the Google Nexus, and apparently plans to release its own tablet, also using the Google Nexus brand, about mid-2012 it appears.
You might also recall that Google faced opposition when it bought travel information provider ITA (News - Alert) Software.
Starting in December of 2011, Google began placing its new flight-search service atop general search results so that its own results appear prominently above links to major middlemen such as Expedia, Orbitz Worldwide and Priceline.com. In fairness, other sites such as Bing also do so. Google favors results
Still, you can see the tension. Some would note that Google produces devices such as the Nexus smart phone and tablet as “reference designs,” indicating its view of what can be done with Android (News - Alert) software, which is open source and available for licensing without payment.
Android software is not a “product” in the same sense that Microsoft Windows is, for example.
Some issues similarly were raised by Google’s acquisition of Motorola (News - Alert) Mobility, which means Google has its own “captive” smart phone brand as well. That acquisition has not been completely finalized, though. EU still waiting to make a decision
A major concern of perhaps many within the tablet industry is that the Google Nexus is likely to run on Android 4.1, while those Ice Cream Sandwich models to be rolled out in the first half of 2012 are to be powered by Android 4.0, a development which is likely to cause deferred effects in the purchase of Android tablet PCs by consumers, some argue.. Google Nexus launch likely to affect sales of Android 4.0 tablet PCs
Others would counter that Google tends to showcase its latest versions of Android on Nexus.
But all of those moves illustrate the tension Google faces in trying to grow its ecosystem, support an open source platform and cope with changes in the “search” business as well.
Gary Kim (News - Alert) is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Rich Steeves