Crossroads

At the intersection of technology, finance and the Pacific Rim.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Google and the Android Phone

This from Tech Crunch a fairly reliable tech blog in Silicon Valley:

"there are a few things we have absolutely confirmed: Google is building their own branded phone that they’ll sell directly and through retailers. They were long planning to have the phone be available by the holidays, but it has now slipped to early 2010. The phone will be produced by a major phone manufacturer but will only have Google branding (Microsoft did the same thing with their first Zunes, which were built by Toshiba)."

And where will it be built?

"We have some fairly good information that suggests Google is working with a Korean phone manufacturer on the Google phone – LG or Samsung. Samsung has multiple parts in the iPhone and could be pressured by Apple not to work with Google, which says LG is the more likely partner for Google. .... But either way, the best information we have right now points directly at Korea as the birthplace of the Google Phone."

So where is Microsoft in the smart phone wars. Their chief software architect, Ray Ozzie (whose predecessor was Bill Gates) says the following in Venture Beat:

“All the apps that count will be ported to every one of them, It’s a completely different situation from the PC market, where software’s built to run on a Windows or a Mac, Mobile apps require very little development, so it’s much easier to bring them onto every platform"

And Robert Scoble, an ex-Microsoft executive (and fairly well-known) flatly disagreed:


If Ray thinks that the best apps will come to Windows Mobile and that the best developers will spend time developing for that platform well, then, Ray is drinking better Merlot than I am.

I’ve seen how even kids compare their phones on the playground. They compare apps and games. The functionality of the phone doesn’t really matter anymore. It’s what’s built on top that gets the kids excited.

Same in business. Last week a VP at Citrix came up to me showing off his iPhone app (it let him get into a Windows box somewhere else in the world and use Microsoft Office).

Even today at the PDC, what did Vivek Kundra (America’s CTO) show his app off on? Yeah, an iPhone. And this was at Microsoft’s own conference!

Ray, the truth is I was there in 2006 talking with the Windows Mobile team when they told me they were going to only build devices for the enterprise. Back then they thought the growth would come from going after RIM. Even Wired Magazine can now see the fumble the team made. They were wrong and now you are wrong. Apps are what will decide winners in this play. For now that’s Android and iPhone. Big time.

But if I were losing developers the way Microsoft is I’d probably say they don’t matter either. It just shows that Microsoft has no secret strategy up its sleeves and has no way anymore to get developers excited about its mobile platforms. Google is now in the best position and Ray knows it.


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