Do we really need Android in our rice cookers?

Would you purchase a rice cooker with the Android operating system built into it? What about a dryer or refrigerator? Could you ever consider installing a microwave oven that was partially operated by Android? You might soon have the chance, according to a recent story by BusinessWeek. According to that story, Google is installing its Android operating system in many of the odder places you can think of. But here’s what’s especially interesting: This move actually makes financial sense for Google.

Android’s reach

Google’s Android operating system is a rather remarkable success, at least when it comes to powering the smartphone world. The BusinessWeek story quoted numbers by research firm Gartner showing that Android powered 72 percent of the smartphone market in the third quarter of 2012. That’s particularly remarkable when you consider that rival Apple could only claim 14 percent of that market share in the same quarter.

Android in your rice cooker: Lunacy or savvy move?

So why would Google, which developed Android, want its software in microwave ovens, refrigerators or rice cookers? It’s very simple: Having Android power these appliances can help Google gather all the more data for its main business, search. Google’s search business, no matter its dominance in the smartphone business, is still its biggest moneymaker. Google can learn more about customer tastes, and gain the ability to more directly tailor its search engine to best serve these needs, by collecting more info from consumers.

That’s one smart rice cooker

The next big question? Is it beneficial to consumers to have Android in the refrigerator? The unexpected answer is “yes”. Here’s one example offered 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 message pops on your screen letting you know that your jeans need 10 more minutes in your dryer downstairs. Then, instead of walking down the stairs to manually start your dryer, you merely press a button on your TV remote control to get the dryer humming again. To paraphrase, Android inside your household appliances might be more useful than you’d think.

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