Microsoft Buys Echo Notification Lockscreen for Android … Why?

Posted on September 14, 2015 by Paul Thurrott in iOS with 0

Microsoft Buys Echo Notification Lockscreen for Android ... Why?

Microsoft’s mobile app buying binge shows no sign of slowing down, with the software giant recently acquiring Double Labs, maker of the well-reviewed Echo Notification Lockscreen. Many are questioning why Microsoft needs yet another Android lock screen replacement, since it already makes an excellent one itself. But Microsoft’s goal in mobile is to be pervasive, and it appears that buying up the viable competition is part of that strategy.

For example, why would Microsoft buy Accompli, turn it into the mobile version of Outlook, and then buy Sunrise, which is just a mobile calendar solution? Why ask why?

In the Android lock screen replacement space—yep, I just typed that—Microsoft already makes a very credible solution called Next Lock Screen that I use myself. So why buy Echo Notification Lockscreen? I ask why because I must. But there are no real answers here.

According to an interview with Julie Larson Green in Business Insider—yep, this acquisition was revealed by one of the few surviving Sinofsky era executives to a publication that is both garbage and anti-Microsoft—it’s because, well. Because.

Microsoft is “[taking] productivity to the next level” and “[keeping] you in the moment,” Larson Green told BI.

OK, that’s … not why. Why did Microsoft really buy Echo Notification Lockscreen?

The default Android lock screen is just “a list of what apps want you to know, not necessarily what’s important to you,” she sort of explained, with BI ad-libbing that most lock screens are “not at all personalized – it’s just a list of alerts, one app at a time.”

But seriously, why did Microsoft buy this company? Did it really need/want another Android lock screen? Testing it over the weekend, I found it to be a competent lock screen replacement, with some nice features. But it’s not clear to me that it’s any better than Next Lock Screen.

Oddly enough, Larson Green hints at what I think is the real reason. And it has nothing to do with saturating the market, buying up any viable competition, or even better serving the users. It’s about gaining expertise in Android integration. As I noted in Cyanogen to Integrate Cortana with Its Android OS over the weekend—and in Major New Deals Make it Clear that Android is Microsoft’s Plan B in Mobile months ago—Android is Microsoft’s Plan B for mobile. And part of the reason is that they can integrate deeply into Android OS because it is an open mobile OS, unlike iOS. I’m guessing the Double Labs guys know quite a bit about this stuff.

“Android … gives developers like Microsoft a deep access to the operating system compared to Apple,” BI reports, correctly.

There’s some speculation—most likely seeded by Larson Green—that Microsoft will somehow use its learnings about how notifications work on Android to make Windows 10 better. And yes, I’m sure that Microsoft is one big virtuous cycle where that happens all the time. But the real story here, in my opinion, is Microsoft’s continued dive deeper into Android. I think this is about Android, not Windows 10.

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