Delayed: Android, aka Google Phone

46 Comments

If you are a start-up targeting the mobile industry, then you are well aware of the slow moving ways of incumbents, equipment makers and of course handset makers. You are made aware of their equally glacial ways when you come from the opposite end of the spectrum, Silicon Valley.

Google, the Mountain View, Calif.-based search engine that is making a big mobile push via its Android Mobile Platform, is learning the realities of mobile business the hard way. A report in WSJ suggests that the company is experiencing delays to its so called launch which is now slated for fourth quarter 2008. (Somewhere in Cupertino, Calif., Apple’s Steve Jobs is having a good laugh!)

“This is where the pain happens,” Andy Rubin, Google’s director of mobile platforms told WSJ. “We are very, very close.” He was talking about adding features etc requested by carrier partners. I think this is why Jobs was smart in being tyrannical and ignoring carrier requests when it came to software. Google apparently can’t afford to ignore partner requests.

Here are the relevant and interesting facts from the WSJ article:

  • T-Mobile USA is taking up all of Google’s attention, since the company wants to launch a device in the 4th quarter. This is diverting attention away from other partners.
  • Executive reshuffle at Sprint is causing some delays. Sprint now wants to develop an Android phone for its 4G network instead of 3G network. Sprint as we know, is like a dancer with two left feet.
  • China Mobile’s equipment partner is having a tough time translating Android into Chinese characters.
  • Developers are finding it hard to write apps for Android because Google keeps making changes to the Android.
  • Again, as I said earlier – whimsical wishes of carriers, endless customization, software delays and of course, executive reshuffling – these are facts of life for mobile start-ups. Welcome to the club, Google.

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  • 46 Comments

    Not Sofast

    I can warm my hands from the glow of the red faces off this webpage.

    This is a different kind of embarrassment – worse than Balmer declaring he would kill Schmidt. I’ve never seen such collective plain wrongness since Bill Gates only used the word “internet” 5 times in his 1995 book The Road Ahead.

    Still, it gave me a laugh so thanks.

    Jose Miguel Cansado

    @Michael: I fully agree with you. Except HTC no one announced a handset as soon as this year. Developing and integrating a handset on a new platform takes close to a year, so HTC is really pushing to get it in Q4, even if it is last day, and maybe not in volumes.

    @Om, your comment on carriers is really US oriented. In Asia, except Japan and Korea, all handsets are free and not controlled by operators and in Europe the market of free handsets is also substantial.

    @Vipin. This is not a Nokia’s win, but SonyEricsson exiting Symbian and leaving it in hands of Nokia, maybe just to see SE now moving to Android. Symbian is an OS with very poor usability compared to iPhone, Blackberry, Android and even Windows Mobile.

    http://tech-talk.biz/2008/06/23/nokia-still-dont-get-it/

    Om Malik

    @ Michael

    Yes that is correct though they were ambiguous in saying that it was in the second half of 2008, which could mean any day after June 30, 2008. Not it is in the 4th quarter, which could technically mean, last day of this year. I think more I hear about it (from my sources), more it seems like it could be delayed.

    This is clearly a platform that will make an impact in the second half of 2009 – but will the carriers wait as other platforms emerge.

    Michael

    Isn’t the only Android phone that was going to be released earlier then 4Q of this year the HTC one? I don’t think there was any other phones planned to be out any earlier. It’s odd that everyone’s going crazy about this.

    Mark Sigal

    Om,

    I would echo your comments. While a delay would be completely unsurprising, it certainly merits mention as a first report card on Google’s ability to execute on a complex device platform play.

    After all, Apple is about to launch iPhone 2.0 and is running full speed, and with a more palatable, open business approach than they had in 1.0. It feels like a winner.

    RIM is obviously committed to keep innovating to protect and grow their installed base, which is significant at the carrier and enterprise level.

    With that as a backdrop, we all know that whatever Google releases is going to be a 1.0 product, complicated by the already high expectations of the market, and the reality that each carrier is going to have their own proprietary aspirations, which Google will have to care/feed if they are to be successful.

    That is part of the net takeaway with decision to take care of T-Mobile first (a good decision, IMHO).

    All of this, though, suggests that Google has their work cut out for them since the competition is focused and running with piss/vinegar, and if WSJ article is right, they are going to be later to the party than expected.

    Viren

    Because no one wants a Open Source Phone :( … except me of course

    iPhone …. Shared ‘Greed’ … 2 years $3000+ contract is all that everyone wants and promote!

    Adam

    Interesting that T-Mobile is apparently absorbing so many resources, given that last I checked the pink network has only about 10% market share in the U.S.

    ardit

    “Developers are finding it hard to write apps for Android because Google keeps making changes to the Android.”

    — It’s not that. Developers are having hard time to write Android apps b/c the API is a kludge, mish-mash of classes and packages, with way too much things stuffed, while there is no coherent way to build a nice ui (and no good tools).
    I was suprised google designed such a mess. It seems they just threw people at it, and people worked without talking to each other, producing these APIs.

    Nick

    So realistically, phones will be out Q1 2009?

    I still haven’t heard any arguement as to why we should be on the pro-Android bandwagon.

    ol' yeller

    Google’s mobile efforts will go exactly the same way as MSFT’s mobile efforts and cable set-top box efforts. That is, nowhere.

    Mobile operators, as slow, stupid and greedy as they may be, aren’t about to let a bunch of nerds from Google with cool software dip their smarty-pants fingers into their margins and potentially lucrative future advertising revenue streams.

    See how the cable operators dealt with Microsoft and its efforts to put their software onto their set-top boxes. Meet, discuss, test, revise, meet, discuss, test and so on. Once they learned what they needed to know the put set-top box hardware and software design out to bid, and made sure there were multiple winners.

    So… sure, there will be announcements, phones will ship, but operators will just monitor, take notes, learn and then take what they’ve learned elsewhere.

    Google’s only mobile hope is WiMax.

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