November 8, 2016

Open innovation and crowdsourcing have been the buzzwords for C-level managers for a while. The rise of new and advanced technologies like the Internet that have made it possible to easily and quickly reach many people to build or find the desired solution. Firms commercialising external (as well as internal) ideas by deploying outside (as well as in-house) knowledge are embracing what open innovation is. Using this novel approach, companies conduct research both within and outside its own boundaries and allow free flow of innovation through the boundaries of R&D, sales, and other business units.

Hence, the business models need to adapt as well. Think of Android, the beloved Google’s lovechild. In a nutshell, the company is an innovation architect that produced an open source operating system for smartphones. This OS that can be loaded on virtually any hardware device for no cost. On its part, Android constantly releases newer versions of Android OS to the public, updates the functionality of its product, and all for free. Smartphone manufacturers, in turn, have quickly adopted Android as its software platform since they lacked the resources to develop internal capabilities. Therefore, both software and hardware companies benefited from efficiencies of having a narrower, specialised focus of their operations.

However, Android’s popularity has become its own curse. Currently, this is the dominant smartphone OS. Its widespread popularity impedes firms like Sony and Samsung from getting profits as they have to compete with cheaper Android-using competitors like Xiaomi. To resolve the issue, smartphone manufacturers has started to use Android to create an own version of OS by adding and removing features. This phenomenon has given the rise to the second problem: Android cannot support the adjusted versions of its OS anymore because the newer updates cannot be installed. By making its product freely available, Android also loses control over the future of its product’s state. 

Yet. This is where Google Pixel comes in play. By releasing this product, Google seems to set the standard bar high for other hardware firms using its open OS. Regardless of the benefits that open innovation brings, Google invades the smartphone market and applies soft power over it by having a strong competent and high-quality flagship product.


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