Google Is Sabotaging Windows Phone

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Say what you will about the intense rivalry between Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) , 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 (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) , 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 V3 that 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 (NASDAQ: BBRY  ) 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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Read/Post Comments (8) | Recommend This Article (11)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2013, at 6:40 PM, sheldonross wrote:

    Microsoft has long shunned open standards and processes. Would the story be different if they had opened ActiveSync up?

    I must say I grew up witnessing Microsoft wielding it's position of market dominance to stifle innovation and competition. It would seem to me they are getting their just deserts.

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2013, at 7:02 PM, techy46 wrote:

    Screw Google and their advertising funded software socialism. I turned Google search off 2 years ago and have been totally happy with Bing. I wouldn't pollute my Lumia 900 Windows Phone with Google apps or search for anything. Only thing worse the Google is Facebook's social disease.

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2013, at 7:06 PM, twolf2919 wrote:

    I second that opinion. Microsoft is finally reaping what it's been sowing all these years. At least Google's snubbing of Microsoft is legal - unlike what Microsoft did to Netscape in the 1990's.

  • Report this Comment On January 04, 2013, at 7:31 PM, baozebub wrote:

    Microsoft used to be evil. Google is the new evil.

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2013, at 2:49 PM, marv08 wrote:

    MS has failed to support open standards for ages. Heck, even Outlook 2013 still does not support proper importing of vCard files with multiple contact entries, a standard that is used for data exchange industry-wide since 1995... And Internet Explorer 10 is still the worst browser available when it comes to rendering HTML5 and CSS3 properly. MS chose to be incompatible, nobody else did.

    You just can't insist on your own proprietary junk, and then whine about not being invited to somebody else's party. MS is sabotaging itself.

  • Report this Comment On January 07, 2013, at 8:24 PM, xetn wrote:

    I believe the word "sabotaging" is negative. What Google is doing is protecting its turf. Has MS opened any of its apps to open source? That seems like sabotage to everyone else.

    I gave up M$ in 1999 and went with Linux. Couldn't be happier and the cost is ZERO, including all the applications that I care to download from my repositories.

    You can stay on the M$ and Apple upgrade paths if you wish to keep spending money. I will not!

  • Report this Comment On January 24, 2013, at 7:12 AM, sjbaraje wrote:

    This article fails to mention that Google had to pay Microsoft on an ongoing basis for the Exchange ActiveSync technology. I think it’s important to note that continuing to support this proprietary form of sync would cost Google money that would go straight into Microsoft’s pockets. Already android manufacturers paying huge money to Microsoft's Exchange ActiveSync technology

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 11:04 AM, notrozer1 wrote:

    This is actually a big blow to Microsoft and its users, since ActiveSync is widely used, particularly in enterprise email environments???

    Not even M$ uses it anymore so how is this hurting anything?

    Also I have a windows phone and there are plenty of third party apps to do Gdrive and gmaps etc... they may not be BIG G made apps, but they work for the people that desire them..

    I myself dont use any of their apps.

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