Android Dead? - Part 10: Google Introduces Its Own Walled-Garden

| About: Alphabet Inc. (GOOG)

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has long been criticized by some for having a restrictive "Walled Garden" approach in its app store. Android, which is produced and controlled by Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), on the other hand was regarded as "Free and Open" with no restrictions on the apps available. When Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) created the Android-based Kindle Fire series of tablets, it mimicked Apple and restricted apps to those purchased trough its own app store. Google continued to have an open policy in its Google Play marketplace.

This, however, appears to have changed. An article in Tech Crunch reports that Google has removed over 60,000 apps from Google Play in an effort to "cut spam." They write:

Google has stepped up its efforts to remove spammy or otherwise non-compliant applications from its mobile application marketplace, Google Play, in recent weeks. App deletions hit a record high in February, with 60,000 apps removed during the course of the month - the largest round of app deletions to date.

They continue:

it seems that Google is starting to moderate its own app store for quality - it's just going about it in a different way than Apple.

That is, it allows any developer to post apps into the store, but then has an automated system to screen them. It seems to be working pretty well lately.

Tech Crunch does note that many of the apps were probably pulled by the developers themselves. This is normal in the development cycle. However, it writes, "But with a number as high as 60,000, it's clear that many of these were pulled by Google directly."

The point that suddenly it seems that the Android crowd will no longer be able to use the "Walled Garden Approach" as a criticism of Apple's iOS. The gates of total freedom have just been closed somewhat - 60,000 is a large number.

The question of course is whether or not this will have any significant impact on sales.


With Samsung's new Galaxy S4 soon to hit the shelves, the Android club is probably looking to make up for some ground lost to Apple with the release of the iPhone 5. It is not very likely that the fact that Google is now censoring its own apps market will change much. But as the mobile OS battles go on, a bit of the shine in the armor has tarnished, and the Android "open" aficionados are going to eventually have to drop this argument against Apple, or face the criticism of being hypocritical. Remember, this 60,000 apps kicked out of Google Play is just the month of February!

Additionally, with both BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) going to moderated stores, the argument, a major reason for avoiding iOS, will be disappearing altogether. This will slowly, incrementally, increase the appeal (or decrease the dis-appeal) of the Apple ecosystem.

Add to this the recent privacy breach by Google that may leave it open to literally billions of dollars in fines or law suit damages, and there is a real possibility that Android may indeed begin to decline.

Android is in its death throes! Well, this may be overstating a bit, but I do believe that the Smartphone OS landscape will be very different in four years - and that Android OS, by Google, will be the loser. My basic thesis is that Windows Phone 8 (WP8) from Microsoft and BlackBerry 10 from Research in Motion (RIMM) will take massive market share from Android, and Apple's iOS will maintain or slightly gain market share. (See Part 1 and Part 2 for the basic rationale, and Part 3 for my market share predictions up to 2016.)

Android is Dead? Series posts:

In part 1: Why? I put out my thesis and basic arguments.

In part 2: Titans Clash, I note corroborating analysis from a Goldman Sachs report titled Clash of the Titans.

In Part 3: The Numbers, I proposed a 2016 market share scenario, complete with numbers, in which Android had lost significantly to Windows Phone 8, and BlackBerry 10.

In Part 4: New Contender Windows Phone 8, I discuss the new Windows Phone 8 operating system, and a couple of particular devices.

In Part 5: Number of Players , I addressed criticism that 4 was too many players in the market.

In Part 6: Nokia Triumphs, I discuss Nokia's recent success with it Lumia models.

In Part 7: WP 8 Ratings, I discuss the high ratings that the WP8 phones received.

In Part 8: Samsung Strikes Back, I discuss the new Galaxy S4.

In Part 9: Is Google "Nefarious"?, I discuss potential repercussions of the revelation that Google Play sends purchasers' personal data to all apps developers.

My blog post here will be updated with all new stories in the series as they come out.

Disclosure: I am long AAPL. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.