The iPhone killer of the future needs vertical integration. (Why Android is doomed.)

Google’s dependence on hardware and carrier partners puts the final product out of their control — and into the control of companies whose histories have shown them to be incompetent at design and hostile to users.
--John Gruber via

Windows Mobile was a failed experiment in relying on hardware vendors, partners, and carriers to build a great consumer device. There were too many cooks in the kitchen. There were too many integration points.

Case in point: Bug fixes from the field. To get a device to market, there was the core device team, then a mobile operator/commercialization team, and finally the carrier's support / deployment team. There was no shared database of bugs. No shared responsibility. When schedules were stretched thin and the device was failing even simple tasks, it was too easy to point fingers. Oh, that's the carrier team's fault. That's the OS team's fault. That's the commercialization team's fault. Hardware's fault. Nobody took the reins to ensure a quality product was being created.

The Palm Pre team is doing it right. Google would do well to take note here. Building cool techie platform toys that let you create nifty Powerpoint decks is all well and good. But it's all a huge waste until there's a satisfied user using your awesome phone that works great.

It comes down to responsibility. Someone has to be responsible. If you're creating a device, and you want it to succeed, it better be you and your team.



29 responses
Agreed 100%. Though this makes for quite the ruckus when all the blame is aimed directly at you. (ex: App store & Google Voice)
Seems like most "normal" Android users are pretty satisfied to me. At any rate, I wonder if the Android model is so different (free to use on devices) that it should be compared in the same light/held to the same standards. And why would Android be "doomed"? It's a free OS that is available for all to use. Doesn't seem like anyone can "pull the plug" on it anymore since there are lots of independent devs creating their own builds.
Barron, you're right. Bad linkbait title, mea culpa. ;-)

It's not doomed. It will reside in the unsexy but perfectly useful/profitable mid-market for non-geeks.

i'd try to Gobble up HTC if I were Google.
Perhaps Google does expect to make a huge amount of money off the Android platform, at least not in terms of device sales or Android licensing fees.

Originally, there was a fear that they would be locked out of the mobile space given how Apple had their platform locked up. By providing Android, it not only gives Google a substantial footprint in mobile, access to data, it provides a credible threat against preventing access.

Android does not need to sell tons of devices or be number one device, thats not their sweet spot.

Nam, that's true too. But why not try to be the best?

I was talking to my roommate Alex yesterday, and he mentioned that one reason why Virgin is worth billions is because they conquer one market and re-invest those profits deeply in new business. They might make a hundred million in one space, and turn around and plow it right into another business.

In that context, shouldn't mighty tech powers like Google and Microsoft do the same? Then again maybe it's not for lack of trying. Microsoft hasn't built another cash cow in a decade, despite massive investment.

Hey Garry, I'm not too familiar with Virgin's portfolio, but if I was forced to make a guess, Virgin's ventures were disperse around different markets. As such, I would imagine, each subsidary operated independently of one another. So consequently, the individual ventures do not add to another's competitive advantage.

With Google's primary cash cow, search, the Android, the connection is closer. Google wouldn't want to lose sight of what they are the best at, their market dominance in search and the use of data. They may risk shrinking their lead in search or lose out an a future opportunity.

The future opportunity in mobile for Google is not devices or OS, but some thing similar to what they are for the internet. They will leverage their expertise from the internet.

I'm pretty happy with my G1 and there are lots of nice looking Android phones in the pipes (Sholes from Motorola, etc).
So I think Android based phones will evolve faster (due to the "internal" competition) and finally overtake the iphone.
AKA: The iPhone killer of the future is the iPhone
Hi Garry, did you see the phones that HTC is coming out with? I think the Hero is looks pretty sweet. Of course the iPhone is king now but I think that there are some promising Android models out there. I will definitely get the Hero soon and test it out. I think Android gives other companies the possibility to build something great. Maybe they will. They have to if they want to compete.
I'll speak as a G1 (actually ADP1 with Cupcake) user who's getting my head around Android development - absolutely no complaints at all. Sure, the ui can be much cleaner, and definitely not as pretty as an iPhone (nor the thousands of apps).

But we should understand that Google has a very long-term view of this platform. Which is why the audacity of naming a phone a 'G1' - it's literally a beta phone - but it improved by leaps and bounds with the Cupcake update. The apps are getting there too, slowly but surely - there's an official Facebook app in the making (apart from the one or two unofficial ones).

As a developer, I hardly have any complaints - I don't have to buy a rig costing thousands of dollars to get started (Mac Book Pro, iPhone, accompanying software, etc) - all I have to pay is $400 for the dev phone and $25 subscription for Android Market, I'm good to go (I'm from India, so this matters).

The toolset is very, very open - you can use Eclipse, but I normally do everything from Emacs on my Ubuntu laptop. It's pure joy to code for. And, I can be pretty sure whatever time and resources I invest in developing an app won't go wasted - Android Market is truly open in every sense (just upload your app - you'll get banned only if you do something nasty with it). I've bought the ADP1 along with a developer friend of mine, I can tell you, we both are happy as a couple of "monkeys with coconuts" hacking on it - as the Indian expression goes :).

I don't know - but for me, this seems to me like a case of 'worse is better' - in the long run, of course.

Hey Vamsee, thanks for sharing! I am looking into Android development aswell so I appreciate your input. Let people know when you release an app!
Hi Kahlil, happy to share - actually there's a lot more action going on - I've just given my perspective of it - there's Android Dev Challenge with pretty decent cash prizes, dozens of models coming out (Motorola has a Android dev toolset customized for Moto phones), and tablets using Android... the list is endless.

A whole ecosystem is springing up, pretty much in the background of all the iPhone hoopla. Only time will tell which platform will win... I just go with my gut feelings. Being an open source dev, at least the choosing the platform part was easy for me.

Sounds great. Is there a Posterous app for Android?
I don't think so :). I doubt if we need one, actually - if it's stuff like pictures/videos/webpages you want to share, there's always a 'share with' option that comes with all these apps - that lists delicious, gmail, twitroid, etc in the menu. I guess you can just send an email to posterous with the content attached.
Ok, cool.
Why is everyone so obsessed with finding the next iPhone killer. Even the prettiest girl in the room needs a less pretty one to make her look good.
Yes that iPhone Killer talk is ridiculous. Mercedes, Audi and BMW are all excellent cars and they didn't kill each other. If you make a kick ass product then it is very likely that you have a place in the market. Even if there is someone else doing something very similar...
We need better support and integrated channels.
I had (and still have) this prob with GAFYD on my HTC Magic.

I couldnt contact my ISP, 'cause it would do nothing, so I contacted both Google Android Team and HTC.
From google devs got ZERO replies on that bug, and from HTC only a few emails from Basic questions.

In terms of Google idea behind Android, their idea is to capture even more details of our life, so more directed approaches can be made from advertisers.
With aumentated reality soon we can expect to point our MID (Androids or others) to point at products and get more details on it from Manufactures

ISP have to realize that they need to provide better data plans.
They no longer sell Phone calls, they sell services and data. they sell you songs, wallpapers, apps, etc
My ISP is selling me 100MiBs of data per month. on my android that lasts me 4/5 days.

on and I have posterous to blame for that, for making it so damn easy to post vids and pics. damn you :)

Garry, does this mean you might create a PicPosterous for the Pre?
I'm not so sure. I'm seeing history repeating itself. Apple has been here before with the Apple II. Don't get me wrong -- I love my iPhone. Can't wait to see the Palm Pre...
Tony -- yeah, all I gotta do is buy a Pre ;-)

Brett -- It is all just a little bit of history repeating, isn't it? But maybe Steve Jobs is more experienced this time. He's whoopin on fools and in full control.

True... and this time it seems he has the company behind him.
5 visitors upvoted this post.