Google’s Android Day Two: Here Come The Bears
Yesterday I wrote (with myriad contributions from Danny) a largely bullish overview of Android and the Open Handset Alliance (which sounds like a JK Rowling title, I admit). Now, on day two, the bears are coming out. The Wall Street Journal blogs that the “Google Phone” is “A Business-Tech Nightmare Waiting to Happen.” Wired says […]
Yesterday I wrote (with myriad contributions from Danny) a largely bullish overview of Android and the Open Handset Alliance (which sounds like a JK Rowling title, I admit). Now, on day two, the bears are coming out. The Wall Street Journal blogs that the “Google Phone” is “A Business-Tech Nightmare Waiting to Happen.” Wired says that the two announced U.S. carriers at launch, T-Mobile and Sprint, have indicated no concrete Android plans. And this eWeek article (from yesterday) quotes Gartner and IDC analysts who argue Android faces an “uphill battle” and point out reasons that the platform may not succeed in the U.S. There will be more of such articles today and as the SDK is released next week.
In fact, Verizon and AT&T are not part of the U.S. launch and Nokia, the number one OEM globally, has not agreed to participate at this point. AT&T and Nokia, more than Verizon, are likely to hold out for some time unless or until there’s momentum (such that they cannot afford to any longer).
There are also some that believe the open platform and the corresponding freedom that carriers and OEMs will have to build what they like will create a kind of Tower of Babel of interfaces and experiences. For many reasons, including to get “buy in” from partners, Google was prudent to go with an open source framework.
It’s important to recognize that every phone coming out of this initiative won’t be a winner. Some may be quite ordinary and not advance the user experience much at all. But there will be some that come close (or perhaps improve upon) the user experience established by the iPhone, which is now the de facto standard to emulate (or beat, if you can).
If that happens, Google will automatically benefit because of its brand equity and potential usage, which will drive mobile ad revenue in turn. But I don’t take the cynical position I heard from several journalists yesterday that Google is doing this exclusively to drive mobile ad revenue. Google sees an opportunity, to be sure, but there’s also a kind of evolutionary technological imperative motivating the company. There are billions of cell phone users today, struggling with mostly bad mobile Internet experiences.
Just as the iPhone helped focus OEMs and carriers on usability, Android will similarly advance the cause on several fronts. You will likely see reactions from competitors as well that wind up benefiting users, developers, and the mobile Internet as a whole.
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