Are you still using Adwords? Or any other search based advertising?
With Facebook ads, retargeting, remnant banners, and other hyper-targeted media buys available, relevance is more important than ever before. And even though Google has a controlling share of the search market, it can’t afford to miss out on increasing relevance.
Actually, that may be why Android exists…
Mobile Market Share
Google is a search company, first and foremost. That’s how Google built its empire. And, historically, that’s how it’s monetized its brand.
So when Google realized how big the mobile web was going to be, it needed to get a foothold.
According to this very well-thought-out article by tech analyst Benedict Evans, that may explain why Android has so many flaws… and why fragmentation and other issues may not really matter all that much.
Initially, Android’s main goal was to direct more mobile users back to Google. And guess what? It worked.
Android devices mine an impossibly large heap of mobile data. All of this allows Google to better understand what mobile users are doing.
So if Google Play seems like an afterthought, if it takes a lot of effort to build it up to a roughly proportionate revenue machine… maybe that’s because it was more or less an afterthought. Remember, Google is a search company at heart.
Selling media, apps, integrating e-commerce, etc… all of this was sort of an afterthought. That’s not to say Google didn’t realize the importance of these things, but just that they were left a little bit underdeveloped, because Google’s focus is search. It just like Apple’s focus is devices.
In other words, Android, like Plus, allows Google to tie searches and advertising to individual people and places. In the long term, the data that Google gets from Android users is probably just as important as Pagerank in understanding intent and relevance in search. – Benedict Evans
Luckily for Google, users across all mobile platforms still flock to Google search. Even Apple users revolted when it replaced Google Maps with an Apple substitute.
Google is able to glean a bunch of information from users, whether they’re on iOS, Android, or even Windows devices.
The quality and depth of this data will be the challenge for Google. With so much fragmentation across so many OEMs, a lot of Google’s proprietary apps are facing stiff competition.
Amazon’s Kindle Fire represents yet another threat to further fragment the Android market, as Amazon piggybacks on Google’s platform… only to push its own apps and media.
Google gets no data from a Kindle Fire, only web search traffic. More importantly, at scale, it gets no data from many of the generic Chinese Android tablets that are starting to well out of China at $100 or less. These devices are like dark matter: everyone suspects there are a lot of them, but no-one quite knows (publicly) just how many. – Benedict Evans
… So, to answer the question I asked in the title of this post, I would say that, yes, it is all about search… just because that’s where Google is coming from.