Whenever there’s a consumer electronic’s show, I can’t afford to go. Nor am I famous enough to be specifically invited, nor do I work for any big publication willing to send me out there to cover it for freesies. But if I was, say, in Las Vegas right now for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), I’d have to be organised which, as you may’ve noticed, I’m not very good at yet, but I plan to start working on that………..sometime. I hate going through the tech websites at this time of year because all of them are so loaded with information and reports that you can nary keep up. I generally wait until it’s all over, then go through the collective stories and pick out ones that interest me – a dubious method for a current tech news blog – but this story cannot be ignored.
Google, who you would’ve thought had already dipped their toe in the smartphone waters, found it tepid and thrown it’s considerable weight into the clear blue; splashing up it’s Android OS, prevalent in the smartphone market simply for the amount of devices it’s on. It seems that they’ve gotten jealous of the amount of money HTC has made on handsets, providing their open-source OS must’ve been relatively cheap, and decided to build their own pool – “shocking” the tech world by unveiling their new phone – the Nexus One.
This smartphone will, unsuprisingly, run Google’s Android OS and, to be honest, doesn’t seem to have anything that I’d be persuaded by. Sure it’s perfect synergy – other companies made the handsets, Google made the OS and then the two were welded together like some hideous Frankenstein’s Monster smartphone – and if Google has control of both, you’d get the impression that the handset and OS would be optimised for one another. Indeed, the handset is reportedly much faster and runs far better than other Android phones, but past experience shows that this does not mean Google know what to do.
Remember, this is the first time Google have released ANYTHING entirely hardware based and making their debut with something as intricate, market-refined and closely scrutinised as a phone handset, and then having to “deal” with the heavy publicity after some scallywag “leaked” pictures of the handset late last year – by which I mean creating so much hubbubery – seems like a strange idea and, if I’m honest, the general result of that is that the handset will be crap.
Microsoft was sitting pretty for a long time as the only real contender in the smartphone OS market, whilst sitting pretty much on their arse the whole time. Apple released the iPhone with it’s own OS and inadvertedly inspired companies to release their own. Apart from this, regular phones have almost always come loaded with an OS designed and made by the handset manufacturer, and they usually take a few generations before they become comfortable on the hardware. Because Google release an OS first and their handset second will mean that they will spend a few generations with a good OS but a crap phone and the result will remain out of sync rather than allowing both aspects to be refined simultaneously.
That’s a view you could take but I think Google have played a blinder here. Rather than sink their own capital into a handset to test the waters (I’m back to that awkward swimming pool analogy) of their own software, they’ve lent it out to other manufacturers to get their “Google phone” publicised and tested out their OS, found that it’s become immensely popular and now feel that the OS has had enough time, enough tweaks, enough alterations to release hardware that will cater to the needs of the OS, as defined by the user this whole time. HTC, the most prolific conoceur of Android-laden handsets, has been little more than a vehicle for testing. Everyone whose bought an Android handset so far has been an unwitting beta tester for kind old Uncle Google lending out their OS, smiling warmly and saying “have that on me!”. Now cracks the noble heart and dawneth the second stage of Google’s master plan. I will not be suprised at all if, in the next few months, Google halts provision of Android to other manufacturers and begins allowing Android only on their own handsets, to create the sense of exclusivity that iPhone and Palm Pre have with their Operating Systems.
Of course, I maintain that Google doesn’t know enough about the hardware aspect to make a phone that will live up to the OS. I anticipate there will be many complaints about the phone being sluggish to load and other similar problems with the hardware once it’s in the hands of the user rather than being flashed around by some marketing executive in a Google-coloured suit. Although, I wouldn’t buy anything from a man who dressed like Colin Baker.
Their catchprase for this phone is also baffling, “Web meets Phone”? – the web met the phone in 2001, they’ve already married, had kids, grown apart, have increasingly frequent arguments and only stay together for the sake of their kids little 3G and his retarded older brother WAP.