Resolved: The Best Gadgets Are the Work of One Company

By  |  Wednesday, November 18, 2009 at 5:53 am

TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington is reporting that Google is absolutely, positively working on an Android phone of its own for release early next year. He seems to be confirming scuttlebutt from a month ago, and the only thing that’s changed is that the shipping schedule has supposedly slipped a bit.

If Arrington’s right, Google may be about to indulge in an act of overweening hubris: It’s hard to imagine that HTC, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, and other makers of Android-based devices will be anything but profoundly ticked off at the prospect of their software supplier going into competition with them. But the more I think about it, the more I hope that the Googlephone is a reality.

Almost without exception, every truly great handheld gizmo has consisted of software and hardware from one company. The iPhone and iPod, of course. Palm products from the original PalmPilot right up to the Palm Pre. Every BlackBerry ever released. Almost every Psion. They’ve all been more than the sum of their parts, because they’ve been beautifully integrated in a way that’s only possible when a single company’s responsible for everything.

It’s certainly possible to build a really good gadget with somebody else’s software–Verizon’s Droid proves that, as do other devices all the way back to HP’s beloved 200LX palmtop. But they’ll always operate at a disadvantage to ones that reflect a single vision.

Arrington says he knows nothing about the specs of the alleged Googlephone. ¬†It would be pretty sad if it turned out to be a mundane handset that could have come from anybody. I’m thinking it would pack a highly customized version of Android that’s even more focused on putting a bevy of Google services in your pocket. Any guesses?




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5 Comments For This Post

  1. tom b Says:

    You are correct. This is part of Apple’s “secret sauce”; one reason no Windows PC has ever been very impressive. This is why Amiga, SGI, Sun, and Palm had periods of greatness (which, sadly for THEM, they couldn’t sustain).

    Having said that, you have to execute hardware WELL, and perhaps Google will, but they have no track record. MSFT tried hardware, and the result was the XBox, which is a legendary disaster– it loses money and has an epic hardware failure rate.

  2. Mike Cerm Says:

    I disagree with the premise. Of course the best devices come from one company designing both the hardware and the software, because that’s how almost every handheld device (both good and bad) is made!

    For every example of a well-integrated device from a single company (like the iPhone or the Palm Pre), there are a thousand examples of terrible devices (like the Blackberry Storm, and every dumb-phone made by LG, Samsung, and virtually every other handset maker). They’d probably be better off licensing an OS from a 3rd party.

    Similarly, a software company, like Google, probably shouldn’t mess around in the hardware business. HTC has made plenty of great handsets over the years, but Google chose the Dream (aka G1) to launch Android. It’s pretty clear that Google doesn’t have good hardware-sense.

  3. Ultraportable And Portable Laptop Says:

    It’s my considered opinion that Google will ultimately take over the world entirely. The fact is that they have a stranglehold on internet search, which is really the “power source” that drives internet revenue, the biggest PPC advertising network which has it’s fingers in every pie, and Google
    Analytics, which essentially hands over every bit of data that can possibly be extracted from your statistics. With a phone OS and hardware that can be tweaked to extract your calling and texting habits, the phone market is the natural next step. Next I expect them to offer be a cloud computing system that happens to be free when used in conjunction with the Chrome browser.

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