Is Android a fair business?

We all know that the mobile space will be big over the next decade. Phones are becoming smarter, and can almost replace a PC for many tasks. SmartPhones, the likes of iPhones and Blackberries are the hottest trend.

A lot of folks are predicting that Android, the free mobile OS from Google will be a big winner, in fact will overshadow iPhones and others. Here is a Techcrunch article on this. Many analysts are saying the same thing.

Google gives this away free, so that it sits on most handsets, and Google in turn, will reap rewards in its core search business. But Is this a fair business?

Let us evaluate this from a Mobile OS developer perspective. Assume you are a company developing mobile OS, which is still in a relatively nascent stage that will mature over the next decade. You are almost out of luck as you can not compete with something that is being given out free. You don’t have the underlying search business to compete.  This automatically locks you out of this potentially huge opportunity.

This is no different than Microsoft creating Office software dominance using its Windows monopoly, except that it is done in a more polished way.

It is great for consumers, no doubt, as this strategy drives the costs down, but the end result, is the same, that is creating a huge dominance of one company in a promising field with little chance of success for others.

If Google wants to provide Android for free, that is fine. But there should be clear choice for users and handset manufacturers to choose the browser, the search engine, and the default apps they want on the device. This would probably create a more even field.