Google Drive

Why is Google Shunning Windows 8 and Windows Phone?

Google DriveIf you’re anxiously awaiting the arrival of a dedicated Google Maps application for Windows Phone 8, you might be waiting a very long time. In fact, you might be holding your breath equally as long for Google Drive or Gmail.

Clay Bavor, Google’s Product Management Director, recently told V3: “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.”

That’s a pretty harsh sign coming from one of the largest service companies currently operating, but this decision says a lot about Google’s dedication to proper resource management. The fact of the matter is that, though Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 might have a considerable amount of users at this early stage, it’s little more than a blip on the radar in terms of Google’s overall user base.

Many — if not all — of Google’s services and products can be accessed through a browser. Windows Phone 8 has a capable included browser that will run the majority of these applications without issue, and because of that there’s little reason to actually develop these dedicated apps unless there is a high demand for them.

I’m a Windows 8 user and I have yet to feel compelled to seek out a dedicated application for Google services. Windows RT users might feel differently, but with applications like Google Drive and Gmail being so readily available in a browser, what’s the point?

I doubt Google is intentionally shunning anyone. It’s simply making a wise business decision.

You have to put your resources where the users are. When Google Maps was originally removed from iOS with the release of iPhone 5, the immediate response from Google was that it had no intention to develop a Google Maps app for the platform. After much customer demand, it was done and that app came out last week. The same call for attention would need to be made by Windows Phone 8 users, but the likelihood of that happening without a sharp growth in the platform is fairly slim.

As of right now, a great deal of developers see the new apps platform on Windows 8 as a bit more of an experiment than a certainty in the long-term. If Windows 8 doesn’t take off and its app platform falls short, then Google would have wasted many hours developing apps for it. Those hours could well have been spent on improving its iOS or Android apps, as well as continuing to service Windows 7/Vista/XP and OS X users who are currently benefiting from dedicated apps.

Any new platform from any company is a gamble for its developers. Imagine how much time was practically thrown away by developers rushing to put out applications for webOS when the Palm Pre and HP TouchPad launched only to have the supporting hardware pretty much fade out of existence shortly after. That same time could have been better spent developing better apps for Android, iOS, or even RIM’s BlackBerry OS. Hindsight is 20/20, and it’s perfectly reasonable for any company to be cautious about diving into a new ecosystem, even if it comes from Microsoft.

What do you think? Is Google missing out on a big opportunity by not building dedicated apps for Windows 8 or Windows Phone 8?