This is an excerpt from DOGFIGHT: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution by Fred Vogelstein, published in October 2013 by Sarah Crichton Books, an imprint of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.
By 2010 Apple and Google were attacking each other on every possible front: in the courts, in the media, and in the marketplace. Android’s surge in popularity was astonishing, and Andy Rubin, Eric Schmidt, and the rest of Google made no secret of their glee. It seemed that every chance they got during 2010 they would expound on how many monthly activations Android had racked up and how mobile devices were going to change the future of Google and the world. In an April 2010 interview with the New York Times, Rubin even predicted that Android was going to rule the entire mobile universe.
The year before he had been worried that Google would abandon Android and that he and his team would need to job hunt. Now he confidently proclaimed, “It [Android] is a numbers game. When you have multiple OEM’s [phone manufacturers] building multiple products in multiple product categories, it’s just a matter of time” before Android overtakes other smartphone platforms such as iPhone and BlackBerry.
It was as if little else about Google mattered anymore. That wasn’t really true, but it wasn’t a huge exaggeration either. In 2010, Android started the year with 7 million users. By year-end it had grown to 67 million and was adding three hundred thousand new customers a day. Android itself wasn’t making money yet, but it was heading there fast. More important, it was accelerating the revenue and profit growth of other Google applications such as search and YouTube, and it was getting more people to sign up for Google accounts and give Google their credit card information.
The more people used Android, the more Google searches they did and the more ads they clicked on. Google still made most of its money from searches on laptops and desktops. But everyone at the top of the company knew desktop ads wouldn’t be the dominant source of revenue forever. Soon, fewer and fewer people would be buying those devices, and more and more would be buying smartphones and other mobile gadgets with Internet access.