Friday, November 9, 2007

Dvorak's Gone Mad

Maybe I'm just young, arrogant, and naive, but I think John's getting a little senile. In his latest rant for his PC Mag column he bashes Google's plans for the Open Handset Alliance with the title "The Google Phone is Doomed". Go read that if you haven't already and work your way back here. Don't get me wrong, I'm not convinced the project will work either – more on that later, but his reasoning confuses me.

Why Dvorak Thinks it Won't Work
  1. Google isn't charismatic
  2. Smartphones suck
  3. Nobody wants the internet on their phone

Google isn't charismatic? People don't love Google? Really? Google has more mindshare than pretty much any internet company out there. Ok, so they put out a crappy social networking tool called Orkut that nobody has heard of. I'm not sure how that relates to the potential success of an open phone product.

Smartphones currently suck. I definitely won't be arguing with that. The operating system user interfaces are crap and the software packages suck. However, I don't get how that has anything to do with a vaporware smarthpone due out some time in the future. If anything, an open platform should lead to a bunch of startups trying to build the next great phone interface. If they can pull it off, this should jumpstart an entire industry of reform. Apple did some good things with the iPhone. I see no reason why the same can't happen with OHA.

I'm not sure what year he's living in, but pondering why anyone would want internet on the phone when they could use the phone is just plain dumb. How do you know the phone number of the restaurant without the internet (or finding a phone book somewhere)? And why would I want to talk to someone when I can get more information myself on Google or [insert name of search startup here]? Maybe it's just me, but this seems like someone arguing to keep their fax machine instead of getting email, or keep their email instead of getting instant messaging.

Why I think it might not work

Alright, so maybe I don't agree with everything John brings up, but I do agree with one. Google wants to roll up the entire mobile market. The carriers, the operating systems, the software, and the hardware manufacturers. I don't see one of the biggest industries in the world taking that lying down.

In addition to the huge hurdles on the business side of things the technical challenges are staggering. Phones are not simple platforms to build on. And from what I've seen Google has yet to produce a large, complex, consumer facing product. They have a great back end platform and a boatload of itty bitty – dare I say widget – sized front end applications. An operating system and SDK that runs on a phone will prove to be a huge task, indeed.

In any case, "doomed" is pretty uncalled for. Of course, I did read his article, look at his ads, and now all of you are going to head over there too. So, I guess that's a success... And hey, I'm just a punk kid anyway! :)

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