Growth and Competition in the Smartphones Industry: Spotlight on Google


  1. The questions rely on the appended articles as your contextual reference. The articles are listed in chronological order in the Appendix, and the page numbers in the questions refer to the page numbers at the bottom of the page in the Appendix section.  Please use the factual information from ONLY these readings to support your answers—facts or information used from other sources will not be given credit. Similar to our case discussions, you should base your answers on the materials provided—this will ensure consistency of data across all answers.  Also, make sure to reference page numbers for the articles when you use the statistics and quotes to back up your answers.
  1. You may choose to answer any 5 of the 6 questions below.  Each question (inclusive of the sub-parts) is worth 60 points—the points awarded to a sub-part are indicated next to it.  Note that if you choose any one question, you MUST answer every sub-part for full credit.  If you choose to answer more than 5 questions, the 5 questions with the highest number of points received will be used to compute your final grade.
  2. You are permitted to consult books, notes, or any other (inanimate) information source you desire while working on the questions, as they relate to concepts and frameworks (but not the facts for the analysis, as noted above).
  3. Brevity is a desirable trait; please keep your answers concise, and stay within the space allotted for each question (1 to 1.5 pages for each of the six questions, inclusive of sub-parts).  A shorter, thoughtful answer takes more time than a longer rambling response.  Rather than providing a “laundry list” of issues and items, think through and prioritize the items that ought to be included in your answer.  Answers that go beyond the space limit will be penalized (please use no less than 11 point font).
  1. Strategy as Fit (Max limit: 1 page): For the smartphones industry context, create a TWOS matrix for Google.  List its core strengths/weaknesses and opportunities/threats, in the period 2007-2010. (Use the BusinessWeek article from 2010 as your primary source to map SWOT). Then, map some of the events discussed in all the articles as actual strategies undertaken by the firm, in the period 2010-2021.  For full credit, you should list only the 2-3 key SWOT, and create one strategy in each of the four quadrants of the TWOS matrix.  Also, note that your strategies should explicitly link the relevant organizational characteristic (S/W) with the relevant external characteristic (O/T).                                                                                                       (60 points)
 Strengths  (10 points)              Weaknesses (10 points)        
Opportunities (10 points)                SO Strategy (5 points)WO Strategy (5 points)
Threats (10 points)                ST Strategy (5 points)WT Strategy (5 points)

Industry Analysis, Resource based view and Positioning (Max limit: 2 pages):


  1. Conduct a 5 forces analysis of the smartphones operating system industry, circa 2015-2021. When doing so, please treat the handset manufacturing industry as intermediate buyers (while a case can be made that handset manufacturers are complements, for this answer, think of the handset manufacturers as similar to the computer manufacturers in the PC industry, who relied on the operating system firms as suppliers.)  For full credit, be sure to tie your answer to the concepts covered in class for why a force may be high, medium or low.                                                                                                      (25 points: 5 points for each force)

**On question 2:  your answer to 2b should be based on smartphones operating systems industry, because the answer is directly tied to the analysis in 2a.

**The text also provides relevant information on Google, particularly as it relates to its activities in the smartphones ecosystem (e.g. p 294). It is OK if you would like to incorporate this information in your responses if you would like–because it is information that is available to all of you consistently.  You do not *need to* though. If you choose to use information from the text, please make sure to explicitly reference the source pages (just like the question asks you to reference the source page numbers provided in the articles).  This will ensure that the grading is based on what information you have chosen to give more weight to, and why.

  • Based on the 5-forces analysis, what is the overall profitability of the smartphones industry?                                                                                                          (5 points)
  • What, in your opinion, are Google’s core resources and capabilities, by 2015?  In identifying these, discuss how they meet the VRIO criteria in the resource based view?                                                                                                      (10 points)
  • What is Google’s business model in the smartphones industry, by 2015 (20 points)
Value Proposition                          Profit Formula    
Value Network                          Resources and Positioning    
  • Dynamic Changes in Industry Characteristics and First Mover Advantage(Max limit: 1 page):
    • Based on the data across the various articles, please indicate the industry life cycle stage (pre firm take off, between firm and sales take off, after sales take off) for smartphones, giving your reasons why. For full credit, please include factual data presented in the articles, including page numbers, to substantiate your answers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                             (10 points: 5 for each row)

Product MarketIndustry life-cycle stageReason for Classification
Smartphones (aka mobile computing)(in 2010):  (in 2010):
(by 2015):  (by 2015):
  • Triangulating from the 2010 BusinessWeek article and the articles that provide Smartphones Statistics:
  • Which firms are the first movers in smartphones operating system industry (pre 2007), and which ones are the second movers (post 2007)?  Justify your answer.                                                                                      (5 points)
  • Is there first or second mover advantage in the smartphone operating system industry? Please provide statistics to back up your answer.                                                                                    (10 points)
  • What are the factors at play for your answer in (ii) above? For full credit, you should discuss which of the underlying factors we discussed in the course related to first mover (dis)advantages may be relevant, and indicate which of the factors was the most critical, in your opinion.                                                                                       (15 points)
  • Comparing Google with Apple, how is its positioning similar to Apple within smartphones?  In what key way is it different?                                                                                                       (20 points)
  • Scope of Firm and Dynamic Capabilities (Max limit: 1 page)
    • Provide examples from the articles of each of the following modes of change used by Google as it competes in the smartphones industry.  For each mode of change example, discuss whether you think that it was or wasn’t the best chosen mode (rather than the other modes that Google could have used to obtain the underlying resource or capability inherent in your example), providing reasons why.                                                                                                      (30 points)
Modes of ChangeExample of the mode used by GoogleRationale for why this was/was not the most appropriate mode of choice
Internal Development          
  • The dynamic capabilities view focuses on changes that firms make to both their core capabilities, and the businesses they enter.
    • From 2007 to 2021, what core capabilities did Google leverage in smartphones industry?                        (10 points)
  1. What capabilities does Google intend to bank on moving forward, and how may these help Google increase its share of smartphone handsets?                       (10 points)
  • Reflect on how changes in Google, Inc.’s capabilities since 2010 have matched (or not) the businesses it operates in from 2010-2021. What synergies across capabilities are being leveraged across the various businesses? What synergies are not being leveraged, if any?                                                                                                      (10 points)
  • Corporate Ecosystems: Role of Alliances in Business Models (Max limit: 1.5 page)
    • “Over time, [Apple and Google] went from spiritual allies to strategic ones… Now the companies have entered a new, more adversarial phase.” (p 1).  Provide four different examples of specific actions and/or reactions across all the articles of each firm undertook that made them increasingly competitive against each other.                                                                                                      (10 points)
  • Using the articles that discuss Google’s entry into mobile handsets, create Google’s business model in 2021 in the smartphone industry?                                                                                                        (20 points)
Value Proposition                        Profit Formula    
Value Network                      Resources and Positioning    
  • As alliance dynamics between Google and Samsung change over time, what critical questions should each firm ask, and how should they seeking to restructure the alliance?  In particular, what should Google to address key concerns by Samsung? For full credit, please relate your answers to three concepts discussed in class on this issue.  (15 points)
  • What is/should Google doing/do to ensure win-win relationships with other handset manufacturers to a) address Samsung’s dominance and as it b) enters into the handset industry through Pixel?  For full credit, please relate your answers to three concepts in class on this issue.                                                                                                          

(15 points)

  • Corporate Ecosystems: Acquisitions (Max limit: 1.5 page): Google’s most ambitious acquisition in the smart-phones context was Motorola Mobility in 2011, which it then divested to Lenovo in 2014.  Using the concepts discussed in the course, particularly as it relates to creating value from alliances and acquisitions, please answer the following questions.
  • What was the reason for the acquisition (channel, technology, product, or resource)?  If you named more than one, which do you believe are the most important reasons, and why?                                                                                                (15 points)
  • Notwithstanding the ultimate fate of the acquisition, what were the intended potential positive and negative synergies, which relate to revenue, cost or risk drivers from the Motorola acquisition? Fill in any three of the six cells in the table below by providing an example, and a sentence for why you classified it as such.   (15 points)
 Potential Positive SynergyPotential Negative Synergy
Cost Driver  
Revenue Driver  
Risk Driver  
  • Referring to key aspects of Google’s business model, why and how did the Motorola acquisition represent an incompatibility or lack of strategic coherence?                                                                                                (15 points)
  • In what ways was the Motorola acquisition a success?  In what ways was it a failure?  Provide justifications for each.

                                                                                          (15 points)

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