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What's Next for Android: Google's New Hardware Strategy

Stocks in this article: GOOG AAPL MSFT BBRY SNE HP

The name/label will differ -- Google and Motorola will have their marketing departments come up with something futuristic and boring, respectively -- but the software substance would be the same.

The point is this: Google wants to keep the software cohesive around its Nexus vision, but wants more hardware diversity around it. They accomplish this by having their Nexus partners compete both with Motorola as well as its internal skunk-works hardware team at Google headquarters.

What does this mean for Apple (AAPL)Apple, Microsoft (MSFT) and BlackBerry (BBRY)?

Android now has close to 70% smartphone market share, up from zero little over five years ago. Most people agree that this has happened with Android lagging Apple in particular in terms of overall quality. No question about that.

But now it's time for Android quality to catch up. If you have 70% market share and still rising rapidly, you can afford to segment your hardware products. You need to spread the risk and to allow more creative brains to differentiate the product.

"The world is not enough" might as well be this new overlapping set of numerous Google hardware strategies. It's better to have several geniuses in several different camps working on different hardware variants, all running your one software load, than to have all of your eggs in one or two hardware baskets.

All of these numerous Android hardware strategies pursued by Google can be bewildering if you don't spend all of your time looking at this stuff, and they would be easy to misinterpret.

However, I think they actually make sense. As long as the software delivers, these numerous overlapping hardware strategies are likely to deliver the best outcome for Google given its size and several constituents it needs to satisfy.

If you are Apple, Microsoft or BlackBerry, this does not look good for you. In front of you are numerous hungry and competing forces all looking to drive to Berlin to get there first. Google holds all the competitive cards here -- except for the lack of physical stores a la Apple and Microsoft. Expect this summer to be a painful one for Google's competitors. They will have their hands full.

At the time of publication the author long GOOG and AAPL, and short MSFT.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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