Google isn’t bored of Android

John Gruber, writing about Counterpoint Research’s note that iPhone has overtake Android in US usage share:

I also continue to think Google is bored with Android. Two years ago I wrote: Do you get the sense that Google, company-wide, is all that interested in Android? I don’t. Both as the steward of the software platform and as the maker of Pixel hardware, it seems like Google is losing interest in Android. Flagship Android hardware makers sure are interested in Android, but they can’t move the Android developer ecosystem — only Google can. Apple, institutionally, is as attentive to the iPhone and iOS as it has ever been. I think Google, institutionally, is bored with Android. Nothing in the last two years has changed my mind on that. Android is certainly still a thing for Google. It’s a priority. But it’s nowhere near the top of Google’s priorities. Nothing ranks higher amongst Apple’s priorities than the iPhone and iOS. Year after year, that difference in prioritization adds up.

There’s clearly a difference in importance between Apple and Google. Google created Android initially because it feared a Microsoft-dominated mobile world where the big beast of Redmond could lock them out of the nascent smartphone ads market. Apple created the iPhone to be the next big thing, something they could charge their usual margins of 30%+ on hardware.

But saying Google is “bored” of Android is wide of the mark. Both Android 13 and the forthcoming iOS 16 are similar in the way they fill in the gaps. Neither offers anything radical. Apple is revamping the lock screen, which is nice but overdue. Google extends its nice “Material You” tricks, which balance the interface’s colours with the wallpaper.

Both operating systems have really reached what you might call the Windows 7 era: users don’t particularly want radical change because they like the way things work now. And neither Apple nor Google is inclined to make their own Windows 8…

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