Previous reports have commented at length about some of the threats to Google Android and one of these is non-Google Android, or Android that doesn’t have Google Play Services installed. You see, one of Android’s strengths is that is is very flexible and the core operating system is open-source, which means anybody can create their own version. Non-Google Android hasn’t been certified by Google and doesn’t include the Google Play Services, so it lacks access to certain applications and core functions such as the Google Cloud Messaging, Google Maps, Gmail, Google Drive. However, in some parts of the world the majority of Google’s applications and services are banned by the authorities and are unavailable. China is one of these regions and thus Xiaomi has built its Android business without access to Google’s services. In fact, Xiaomi have gone from a start-up business in 2010 to being the largest smartphone manufacturer in China.
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Now, we’re seeing rumors that Google employees are worried about the threat Xiaomi presents to Google Android. However, it isn’t simply that Xiaomi make better handsets compared with much of the competition and sell them at cheaper prices, but that Xiaomi are expanding their businesses away from mainland China. The worry here is that Xiaomi could “present challenges” by encouraging Android users to use Xiaomi applications rather than Google’s applications. This includes application available from the Xiaomi application store and those e-commerce applications, too; in other words, it will take a (potential, current and growing) source of revenue from Google. By revenue, we mean data: Google’s core business is in information management and it relies on people using Android to obtain information.
Currently, Xiaomi’s expansion plans around the world have hit a number of stumbling blocks but it is likely the business will work around these. They’ve moved several facilities out of mainland China and the recent news that they are building a research and development plant in India is likely to be the start of their global expansion. And whilst it might be easy to think that we’re years away from Xiaomi presenting a serious threat to Google… four years ago they were Xia-who?
However, part of the reason why Xiaomi have had to invest in their own applications and services is because Google is not present in their home market. Some customers around the world have used Google’s services for years and are deeply entrenched in this infrastructure. Xiaomi will need a compelling reason to coax customers to use their own services over and above Google; that might be offering hardware at fantastic prices (something that Google has tried in 2012 and 2013 with the Nexus smartphones and tablets) or it might be something we’re yet to experience. Whatever and however Xiaomi attack Google’s services and product range across the world, it is likely to cause Google to step up their game and this should be good news for customers with access to this all over the world.