How Google Can Learn From Microsoft

on September 15, 2011

There has been some interesting commentary around how different the approach between Microsoft and Apple is as it relates to their developer conferences.

It is certainly true that these two companies approach them differently but as Steve Wildstrom points out in his article on why Microsoft’s approach is more open than Apple’s, it is because of the more complex ecosystem Microsoft has.

Microsoft has many vendors, who build a wide variety of product configurations based on their software. Because of that it is very important that Microsoft be open and clear with all in their value chain so that the appropriate plans can be made.

With that in mind and after reading Steve’s article I can’t help but think about how very different Microsoft’s developer and partner strategy is from Google’s.

With Microsoft they are out there talking to OEM and ODM partners early, actually working with them to make better products and tune their systems to work with Windows 8. And oh by the way they are doing this and have been doing this well over a year in advance of their product.

Now Microsoft and Google have almost identical partner ecosystems. They both rely on hardware companies to bring their software to market. Yet Google does not talk to their partner ecosystem until much later in their development. Unless of course you are one of the chosen few to go live with the latest Google release you are almost kept entirely in the dark.

That may be entirely fine for Google but that puts your hardware partners in very difficult positions because they plan their hardware and make design plans with the ODM’s at a minimum of 8 month’s out.

I can’t tell you how often I hear from OEM and ODM vendors who express their frustration with Google on how they work with their hardware “partners” around Android.

Because of this and because Microsoft takes a much more partner centric strategy with their software, I am hearing a great deal of excitement from around the industry for this next release of Windows. It appears that the vast majority of those who make PC’s and tablets are going to rally around Microsoft for this next release.

That of course does not ensure its success, my only point is that by working with partners early in the cycle it gives them a more confident feeling and approach to supporting the Microsoft ecosystem.

The level of secrecy that Google employs around Android literally makes zero sense. It would be one thing if Android was light years ahead of anything on the market in terms of an OS but the reality is it is not. I’m sure we can debate this all day but I see no value in Google keeping hardware partners in the dark as they do, and all it does is rub key partners the wrong way.

Google should learn from Microsoft on how to take a true partner centric approach to their development of Android and treat all who desire to ship Android as partners and not keep them in the dark until the last possible minute.