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No GPhone. No iPhone. No Sense.

Google’s Android GPhone Is Already A Flop. That was the misleading title of an article on the Silicon Alley Insider yesterday that we’re still trying to figure out. Is the author irresponsible, clueless or just fishing with linkbait?

The article gains its critical inspiration from an article by Financial Times writer Richard Waters that cites industry wide pessimism for Android’s potential: “It ain’t no iPhone,” said John Jackson, an analyst at Yankee Group, echoing a widely held view.

It ain’ no GPhone, either.

On November 5th, 2007 Google publicly launched Android and the Open Handset Alliance. Google also published a YouTube video thats been seen over 500,000 times. Perhaps the “analysts” haven’t seen it… but isn’t that what they get paid to do?

In the video, Google Engineering Director Steve Horowitz says, “There is no such thing as a single GPhone. What we’re doing is enabling an entire industry to create thousands of GPhones.” And the term “GPhone” itself, as explained by Google Product Manager Erick Tseng, is just a moniker that the press has put on Android.

Sure, we expect the HTC Dream to be compared the iPhone. In fact, we have and will continue to do our own comparisons between Android devices and the iPhone… it would be negligient NOT to. But what we WON’T do and these so-called “analysts” HAVE done is dumb down the spirit Android and equate it with a single GPhone that is destined for failure.

Wake up, people.

Both the Silicon and FT article quote Tom Conrad (Pandora CTO) when illustrating why this “disparagement” of Android exists, “The best experiences out there today are ‘vertical’ experiences, where the hardware and software come from the same company.”

Wake up, people.

These “vertical experiences” are the building blocks of the “walled garden” that prevents consumers from getting the most out of their mobile device. This “vertical experience” is the reason consumers are overcharged while underserved. And as great as the iPhone and its App Store is (yes, we agree, it is great), this “vertical experience” is the reason that applications are being taken down from the App store left and right.

Last month, we called Tom Conrad the Village Idiot. In a “meeting of the mobile minds”, he memorably shouted out, “Nobody cares about Android.” He later admitted it was a stupid thing to say (check the comments) and toned down his rhetoric to say that he fears the obstacles are too large but hopes Google can accomplish their goals with Android.

So what are these challenges? Tom’s comment says: “the walled garden behavior of the carriers (where they seek to control everything they possible can) may prove to be considerable obstacles to the “openness” of Android.” (And by the way, kudos to Tom for admitting he goofed… we confessed to making similar mistakes)

According to these “analysts”, Apple and Research In Motion have found the solution to defeating the pitfalls of the monopolistic “walled garden” mobile industry. Unfortunately, what these analysts aren’t telling you, is that their short sighted solution is to lure consumers to their OWN walled gardens.

Android’s goal is knock these walls down completely. Call it “wanting” – fine. Call it overly optimistic and tragically hopeful – maybe it is. But resorting to the misleading rhetoric in the aforementioned articles is simply inexcusable.

Phandroid has been accused (thanks TareX) of “glamorizing” its titles a bit… and to some extent, we have. An editor that says they haven’t is lying – to be honest, its part of their job. But the title “Google Android’s GPhone Already A Flop?”

Give me a break, Henry… October 2007 called… they want their cluelessness back. By the way, Henry Blodget is the CEO, Co-Founder and Editor In Chief of Silicon Alley Insider. Maybe he is just going the route of sensationalism – like we said, you don’t get anywhere with boring titles. Unfortunately it didn’t stop at the title.

We already know that Android can and will be found on a multitude of handsets – even those without touch screens or even crazier, without “screens” at all! And while the word now eerily eeks us, other “analysts” have speculated Android could be found on devices besides phones in the not too distant future. Depending on the success of Android, obviously.

While the OHA and Google weren’t likely to allow a non touch screen phone to be the inaugural Android handset, it could have conceivably happened. What then? Would the interwebz face the most epic riot ever known to web-kind and see the implosion of all the intertubes connecting the net ?

If you’re going to be cutesy and cuddle up to readers by calling the HTC Dream “A” GPhone at least make it apparent that it isn’t “THE” GPhone. Not at all. The number of potential Android enabled phones – or GPhones if you want to call them that – is unlimited.

Plus, the HTC Dream doesn’t need to defeat the iPhone for Android to be considered a success. There will be PLENTY of Android handsets AFTER the Dream that will all have an equal shot at accomplishing the media moniker iPhone Killer status (ugh, we’re sorry). And to be honest, the iPhone could be better than EVERY. SINGLE. ANDROID. PHONE. and Android could still become a huge success.

In fact, the iPhone’s “death” would HURT google. What phone do you think is currently used more than any other for web browsing? You guessed it… the iPhone. That’s where people do searches (via Google), see ads (via Google) and click ads (yay, monies on the interwebz). The iPhone will continue to help Google.

To think that either the iPhone or Android will “win” and the loser will suffer the fate of extinction is absolutely ridiculously. Its more likely that BOTH will have tremendous success. The iPhone has succeeded and will continue to succeed and Apple deserves every ounce of success for the consumer hit they’ve created.

But Android has a lot to offer consumers as well. Not only will it provide an outrageous amount of 3rd party applications and customization but with many manufacturers and carriers working on Android handsets  you’ll have the benefit of selecting from different form factors, price points, service plans, geographic areas, etc… and the list goes on.

Oh yeah, and even though you’re on Phone A with Service Plan B at Price Point C and Form Factor D you’ll more than likely still be able to connect with family and friends using robust 3rd party applications with Phone E with Service Plan F at Price Point G and Form Factor H.

I thought this had all been explained before, though? The moral of the story is regardless of what the “source” of information it it’s all traced back to a human at some point. They’re just people like you and me. And they can be wrong… just like you and probably more often, me.

To put it nicely, there are some analysts out there that are jumping to conclusions.

While we’re all excited for the HTC Dream and many are already disappointed at the rumored form factor and disclusion of some key Android APIs, at the end of the day there will be more Android Phones in coming months. And perhaps you’ll like one of those more than the iPhone. But whether or not you like a phone more or less than the iPhone, as we’ve already pointed out, is irrelevant.

And if you don’t believe us, just ask Nokia.




  • JerryA

    You made a point that I have been making for a while now. Despite the tendency of tech fans to treat brands and devices like their own home team who they root for at the expense of other options, the truth of the matter is that more options = good and Google is known for starting off simple and building great things. For that reason I’ve been interested in Android for a while now. Those who are looking for a cheap iPhone alternative in the first or subsequent Android devices may be disappointed but that has more to do with their expectations than anything. I imagine that a well developed Android will be a great thing for the mobile phone and portable device market. Google tends to look ahead rather than focus on advertising blitzes for whiz-bang premieres and I look forward to the first fully featured Android phone that comes out on Sprint so that I can try it out too.

  • GreenLeaf

    I have always liked Google’s ways of doing things… They let their products speak for themselves. Like, JerryA rightly put, they are not for creating hype & hollywood style conferences. Just take a look at Chrome. It is one of the most significant product ever to come out of Google… And they just come out the previous day & announce it. Absolutely no hype! That’s the way to go!! :)

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