Google Is Sabotaging Windows Phone


Say what you will about the intense rivalry between Google and Apple , but at least those two clashing titans play nicely when they need to. Mobile platform competition aside, Google recognizes that Apple has a large following and there's a large overlap of users that the search giant still wants to cater to, and the Mac maker knows better than to get into the search business.

The same can't be said about Google and Microsoft , though. This pair competes head-on in a plethora of battlefields: everything from Internet browsers to search engines to productivity software. Unsurprisingly, Google is now doing what it can do sabotage Microsoft's fledgling Windows Phone platform.

No apps for you
Last month, Google Apps director Clay Bavor told V3that currently Big G isn't planning on building any of its popular apps for Windows platforms, such as Gmail or Google Drive. "We have no plans to build out Windows apps. We are very careful about where we invest and will go where the users are but they are not on Windows Phone or Windows 8," Bavor said, "If that changes, we would invest there, of course."

This decision can be viewed a number of ways. Either it's a justifiable business decision to efficiently invest research and development dollars where they're most likely to earn a reasonable return, or it's just plain being mean. Perhaps a little bit of both.

Going "where the users are" is entirely believable, and look no further than recent smartphone market share figures to back up Google's claims. Just between Android and iOS, Google can already effectively reach 90% of smartphone users by developing its apps for those two platforms.

Operating System

Q3 2012 Units

Q3 2012 Market Share


136 million



26.9 million


Windows Phone/Mobile

3.6 million


Source: IDC.

It's not as if Google is ignoring Windows 8 entirely. Big G has released a version of its popular Chrome browser for Windows 8 alongside a Google Search app, but it appears that Windows Phone users won't be so lucky.

No services for you
In December, Google also announced as part of its "winter cleaning" that it was killing Google Sync, which used Microsoft's proprietary ActiveSync protocol to sync email, calendar, and contact information between devices, effective at the end of this month. Google Sync will continue working for existing users, but new devices won't be able to use it after Jan. 30.

This is actually a big blow to Microsoft and its users, since ActiveSync is widely used, particularly in enterprise email environments. Even Research In Motion uses ActiveSync within its email infrastructure.

Google is moving its syncing protocols to open standards: IMAP for email, CalDAV for calendar, and CardDAV for contacts. We can similarly interpret the move as a shift toward open protocols, something Google has long stood for, or a clear attempt to undermine Microsoft. Starting in September, Google had adopted CardDAV to sync contacts data from Google Contacts, which would have been the first sign that it was contemplating dropping ActiveSync.

Both Apple and Google support CalDAV and CardDAV protocols natively, but Microsoft does not. That's where things get tricky, because Google just made it a lot more difficult for those that use Windows Phones to tap into Google services beyond email.

In a statement to The Verge, Microsoft said it was "surprised and disappointed" by the move since it makes life much harder for customers. Sadly, it offered up no information on if or when it would adopt these open standards instead.

At this point, Windows Phones are at a distinct disadvantage to consumers that use Google's contacts and calendar services extensively.

Kicking 'em when they're down
Each move may seem insignificant in isolation, but combined Google is providing numerous disincentives for Google/Microsoft users to opt for a Windows Phone, while Google/Apple users feel no discomfort and can choose relatively freely between an iPhone or Android without worrying about app or service availability.

Can Google keep Windows Phone down?

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