Why the Punditocracy is Wrong About the Google Phone

Like many people, I have written and commented to media a little in the last day or two about the new Google phone. Here is a particularly interesting dissenting note I received via email from "John B", and it’s worth posting in its entirety.

By way of context, "John" initially wrote praising David Pogue’s take, and pillorying Walt Mossberg’s, which "John" called "nonsensical". With that out of the way, here is his unedited note:

You are dead on, the overall experience is "polished" with iPhone and "not yet ripe" at Android.  It annoys me that so many pundits refuse to address the question "Which phone would you tell your 59 year old Aunt Sophie to buy, today?"  I’ve used the Android phones that Verizon is offering, and I simply would not give them to my Aunt Sophie, for a long list of reasons.

I think the "closed system" argument is a total red herring.  If Android eventually wins b/c it is open, how do the blogging pundits explain the overwhelming lead that Apple has in apps even though it is a closed system? I have yet to see an intelligent discussion of "when does first mover advantage matter, and when doesn’t it?"  That might hold the key.  Here’s my guess:  Apple is going to defend its lead, it will not stand still with regard to partnering, products, and business models.

Google has not organized an alternative business model/partnership that can keep up with (and surpass) Apple.  If you read Pogue’s column, he makes it clear that Google has in fact done very little to form an effective response to Apple, in terms of business strategy or user benefits.

In all of yesterday’s "analysis", here’s a partial list of what was not said:

  • Apple is playing a global game, Google is playing a domestic game
  • Apple has a first mover advantage
  • Apple can win this in the long term simply by continuing to innovate and
    continuing to modify its business model.  Simple.  Win.
  • Apple is focused on user benefits and ease of use that result from tight integration, and Google is taking a path that ensures (ensures!) fragmentation

This is very similar to the flawless plug and play that Apple now offers in PCs, vs. MSFT’s "good luck finding a driver that works for your printer and that doesn’t conflict with your scanner and do let us know how it all works out because we don’t care because we’re really not in that business."

The fact that you can buy a just-introduced HTC Eris at VZW that is not running the latest Android OS and the fact that you can not get anyone to tell you when you can upgrade that handset to the latest rev of the OS tells you all you need to know…

You are signing up for years of pain and wasted money with Google’s business model. Apple did not lose its lead in the 1980s because of its closed, tightly integrated approach to product design, but because it failed to innovate and evolve.  Show me the evidence of that problem today…  It is continually partnering with suppliers, contractors, and wireless carriers throughout the phone biz.

There is nothing in Apple’s current business model to suggest a go it alone strategy.  People are confusing tight product integration with a closed business model.  Apple is offering the benefits of the former to customers, it is clearly not employing the latter.  In fact, Apple has a long history of incorporating leading edge technologies and components from other vendors and bringing them to users in creative, effective new ways.

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