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Google's most recent move spells alphabet soup

Google's most recent move spells alphabet soup

Apple's Competitors
August 11, 2015

Google is now Alphabet. But we all knew that: the news, which hit the Web yesterday in a series of posts from tech sites, newspapers, and Google executives, has already outlined the deal. Alphabet is Google’s parent company, and many of Google’s services (like the search engine and its related services, Google X, and Nest, to name but a few) will exist as separate companies.

This is Google’s aim for transparency, according to Alphabet CEO Larry Page. “Cleaner and more accountable” are the words the chief executive used to describe one important result of the change. And for a company few often describe in such a way, this is important. You can read all about Page’s take on his new parent company here; Alphabet’s own site is also live and ready to be perused, though little beyond Larry’s opening letter is available for visitors to read.

New websites, letters from the CEO, and name-changes aside, this change does allow for an interesting comparison between Apple and Google, at least in terms of the two companies as players in the smartphone arena. And this has perhaps been best summed up by Philip Elmer-DeWitt, over at Fortune.

There, he explains:

Apple in the way it manages its resources is nothing like that. The company may burn its share of money—on stock buybacks, on fancy new headquarters, on Jony Ive projects that don’t pan out. But all its products and services—Watch, Music, iCloud, etc.—are aligned with its core business.

He adds, “Apple is a singularly focused company. Google, we can now see even more plainly, is not.”

For so long, fragmentation has been the cry levelled against Android, with those against the mobile OS arguing that the multitude of devices renders the platform unstable. “How,” these critics ask, “can you maintain and develop a platform when it must run on hundreds of different mobile handsets, let alone Android’s tablet presence?” I had a similar experience when I dabbled with Android some years ago; as Lindsey Buckingham said, I’m never going back again.

But now, in an almost comical move, something not so dissimilar has happened to Google itself: as a company, and as Elmer-DeWitt rightly notes, we can see more than ever how Google is dealing with so very, very much. We’re indeed looking at a company without a single focus, for sure. And this can only be bad news for Android users, because as we all know, there are 26 letters in the alphabet.

It’ll be interesting to see how Google, and Alphabet, proceed over the next couple of years. We’ll be watching closely.

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