Strong opinions, weakly held

Android is not a money maker for Google

Matthew Yglesias writes about the fact that Android is massively successful and yet loses money for Google. This reminds me a lot of Sun and Java. Java is one of the most successful programming languages ever introduced, and indeed practically spawned an industry unto itself. Furthermore, many, many companies have made money using Java in all kinds of ways. The funny thing was that Sun never really made any money with Java. It didn’t enable them to sell hardware, or server software, or development tools. It’ll be interesting to see what Google does with Android in the long term.

Update: From the comments, Horace Dediu breaks down Android as if it were an independent company. As a business unit, it is profitable.


  1. BTW Android does make money for Google. Asymco has the full analysis at http://www.asymco.com/2012/05/14/the-android-income-statement/

    What is not a money maker is Motorola, but that is not the same as Android.

  2. The Sun/Java comparison is apt in many respects, but falls short in the strategic importance of the platform. Sun could well have invested less in Java and still been successful selling hardware to businesses running a variety of platforms.

    It’s not clear that Google could afford this. Given that the company derives the bulk of its revenue from advertising, and that mobile usage is at least matching and in many cases exceeding non-mobile usage, the absence of Android would mean Google would be effectively beholden to Apple, Microsoft and any other platform creator.

    Which would be difficult to sustain. Seen from that light, Android becomes less a cost center than a cost of doing business.

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