Is Google moving away from the Android brand?

Yesterday, Dutch media guru @erwblo tweeted an interesting question. Erwin wondered whether Android users are aware that their phone runs Google’s mobile OS. People around me usually are, and in my experience, they usually consciously choose Android over other options.

But others chimed in and it seems that at least a portion of Android users are unaware that their Samsung or HTC phone is powered by the cute little green robot.

Market vs. Play

This made me wonder about Google’s brand strategy. In order for “Now available on Android” ad slogans to work, it’s essential that users know they own an Android-powered phone, and can download the app. And up until recently, Google had one essential app that was fully Android-branded, Android Market. But Market became Play, and with that move, the age of the robot all but came to an end.

Vendor branding

New phones now will have Play pre-installed, and judging from screenshots I’ve seen from the HTC One series, Samsung’s Galaxy SIII and Galaxy Nexus, their end-user experience is pretty much Android-free.

I think this is a potential threat to the Android ecosystem. It’s essential that if Google starts pushing the Play brand instead of Android, vendors do the same. And whatever it’s called, the OS and the ecosystem should be a selling point for the phone or tablet. I get the feeling that Samsung prefers to push it’s own Galaxy brand, and doesn’t mind customers not knowing about Android. This to me seems short-sighted, and it doesn’t do Google justice.

So what do you think? Will we be talking about Galaxies two years from now? Play-phones? Or will the mechanical man prevail?

9 Comments

  1. I noticed the change of the Android Market to ‘Play’ when I got my Samsung Note a couple months ago and now on my Galaxy S3. I kinda wondered what the deal was because other than the name and logo change, the market app is still the same. If Google is ditching the Android brand, it must be for some short-sighted, not well thought-through polock idea. Perhaps, like another rumor I heard a year ago or so, Google is getting ready to launch its’ own phone, laptop, pc, or OS to compete with Windows and maybe it will be branded ‘Android vX.0′ or something, so maybe they are trying to separate the brand or something?

    Oh well, no biggy, something to keep us droid lovers guessing!

    Richard,
    Chief Imagineer

    Comment by Richard McKinney — July 11, 2012 @ 6:02 am

  2. When the guys over at playstation changed their network applications, did it amount to this much fuss? The change to Play could just be a sign of bringing together all of their products into one central repository for other devices like tablets, TV’s and anything else they can make “smart” today.

    The only effect that the change had on me was remembering it was no longer under “M” on my app list, and was now under “P”.

    If you really don’t like how Google have handled this, here’s the door: http://www.onbay.co.uk/recycle – go and sell your phone and get an iPhone if it’s that much of an issue. The iPhone 5 is due out soon, I hear. But then, so is the Galaxy Note 2.

    Comment by Derek Forshaw — August 13, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

  3. Maybe they’ll be called Google Phones in future ;)

    Comment by Phil — August 14, 2012 @ 3:42 pm

  4. Phil you may be right.

    Comment by Coco — September 4, 2012 @ 10:29 am

  5. Hahah yeah my mom has no clue that android is on her phone or who that little green man is let alone that google is running that whole show!

    Comment by Tom Dool — October 24, 2012 @ 10:11 am

  6. Yes, this made us think about Google’s technique. In order for now available on Android ad slogans to work, it’s important that users know they own an Android-powered phone, and can download the app.

    Comment by BeauRocha — February 4, 2013 @ 7:40 am

  7. I reckon if you asked most users the question ‘what O/S your phone is running’, the majority wouldn’t have a clue.
    Guru’s yes .. but not the average momma or poppa

    Comment by Tom — February 25, 2013 @ 9:04 am

  8. In my case, i love android not for beeing Android but for beeing Google’s. I believe Google is already a very loveable Brand and their strategy should all be focused of leting people know they have an OS powered by Google. I believe they are doing it though, because all of the integration Android has with other Google services

    Comment by Daniel Figueroa — April 13, 2013 @ 6:46 am

  9. I’m pretty sure that more of 90 per 100 users are not aware about the os on their phones. Maybe they like the green robot but without any idea over all of the implication.

    Comment by Loona — June 19, 2013 @ 2:28 pm