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How smart is your toaster? With Android it might be a genius

Business Technology | February 22, 2013

Would you buy a rice cooker with the Android operating system built into it? What about a dryer or refrigerator? Would you ever consider installing a microwave oven which was partially powered by Android? You may soon get the option, based on a recent story by BusinessWeek. According to that story, Google is installing its Android operating system in some of the odder places you can imagine. But here’s what’s especially interesting: This move actually makes financial sense for Google.

Android’s reach

The Android operating system has already dominated the smartphone world, beating out its rivals handily. The BusinessWeek story quotes numbers from research firm Gartner showing that smartphones running the Android operating system accounted for 72 percent of the market share during the third quarter of last year. How impressive is that? The nearest competition, Apple, could only claim 14 percent of the smartphone market.

Android in your rice cooker: Lunacy or savvy move?

So why would Google, which developed Android, want its operating system in microwave ovens, refrigerators or rice cookers? It’s very simple: Having Android power these appliances could help Google gather more data for its main business, search. Google’s search business, despite its dominance in the smartphone business, remains its biggest moneymaker. Google can learn more about customer preferences, and gain the ability to more directly tailor its search engine to best serve these needs, by collecting more info from consumers.

Is it useful?

The second big question? Is it useful to people to have Android in the refrigerator? The unexpected response is “yes”. Here’s an example provided by the BusinessWeek story: Say you’re watching your favorite TV show. But you also plan to go out later that night, and you’d prefer to wear your favorite jeans. As you’re watching TV, a note pops on your screen telling you that your jeans need 10 more minutes in your dryer downstairs. Then, rather than walking down the stairs to manually start your dryer, you just press a button on your TV remote to get the dryer humming again. In other words, Android inside your household appliances might be more useful than you’d think.


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