Surfacing in news earlier today, an unlikely reconciliation occurred between two companies in mobile who haven’t exactly gotten along recently. Google and Microsoft have decided to settle approximately 20 lawsuits which have been ongoing for the past 5 years. The two companies jointly claim:
“Microsoft and Google are pleased to announce an agreement on patent issues. As part of the agreement, the companies will dismiss all pending patent infringement litigation between them, including cases related to Motorola Mobility. Separately, Google and Microsoft have agreed to collaborate on certain patent matters and anticipate working together in other areas in the future to benefit our customers.”
Okay, so obviously this is good news on a lot of fronts. What intrigued me the most was that last little tidbit at the end saying the two companies “anticipate working together in other areas in the future to benefit our customers”, and it makes me wonder if there’s any possibility that official Google apps will be making a reappearance on the Windows Phone/Windows 10 Mobile platforms.
Microsoft apps and services such as Skype and Microsoft Office Suite, among several others, are available on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. Google’s services are available for Android and iOS. Apple doesn’t share much with anybody, unless it’s an app that helps you move from Android to iOS. But let’s back it up a little bit and talk about Google’s presence, or lack thereof, on the Windows Phone app store.
While I wouldn’t say there’s any one single reason why Windows Phone failed, a big reason that it hasn’t succeeded is because of the cliché app gap that you’ve probably heard about numerous times. Many staple “official” applications were glossed over for Windows Phone users, and tech giant Google happened to be one of the many that chose not to make anything official (aside from a Search app that nobody uses anymore). Given that Google’s services are among the most popular used for a variety of things (YouTube, Google Drive, Hangouts, Google Calendar, Gmail, Google Search - the list goes on) having that suite of apps missing from Windows Phone was easily a deal-breaker for a lot of people.
With the upcoming release of Windows 10 Mobile, many have wondered if Google services would make a debut on the new, unified platform. After all, with tighter unification it would seem like it wouldn’t be too hard to get Google apps on a Windows 10 Mobile phone given that there are web applications for the same services. The overall consensus seemed to agree that Google apps on Windows 10 Mobile was also unlikely. However, with Google and Microsoft now playing nice with each other, the chances for Google services to show up officially on Windows 10 Mobile is looking a lot less grim.
The statement that the two companies will be working together in order to benefit their customers in the future was as vague as vague can be, and there’s absolutely no way of knowing right now whether Google will officially produce anything for Microsoft's revamped mobile platform in the future. I strongly hope that this becomes the case though, because Windows 10 Mobile is going to need all of the help they can get. This decision to drop patents and work together couldn’t come at a better time.
It’s probably just wishful thinking on my part, but I can’t help but feel that there should be a third truly viable mobile platform. And as somebody who uses Google’s services daily, I would really like for there to be some well-developed official apps on whatever platform I’m using.