Android Delayed, Still Not Competitive With iPhone
Quel surprise: Google's Android will be delayed. It looks like Google and their hefty consortium of partners are struggling a little with getting a new mobile OS deployed across a wide array of hardware connected to all sorts of different networks. Who coulda predicted it? (Yeah, okay, basic high school chaos theory, given complexity growth and propensity for system break down and all, but other than that...)
Originally slated for second half 2008, its now looking more like fourth quarter, if not 2009. Seems like the T-Mobile launch is so Google-tention intensive, it's pushing Sprint's launch further back. Also -- wait for it -- Sprint doesn't want to just deploy a clean Android build, they want to
wall it off brand it up all personal like (couldn't see that one coming?). Meanwhile, mega-carrier China Mobile is "running into issues" pushing its launch back as well.
To top it off, Android is more challenging to develop for, which is also a startling revelation, given the alpha/beta status of the SDK. Hitting deadlines is one thing. Hitting them through an asteroid storm of OS changes is another entirely.
Not to beat a dead horse, but all these problems were wicked obvious going back to launch day. In fact, Fake Steve satire'd it up brilliantly from the get go, and Daring Fireball sums it up nicely now.
Keep reading after the break to find out how this effects the iPhone...
Not at all.
Despite the web-spanning headlines, Android isn't competing directly with the iPhone (or even the Blackberry), it's competing with Windows Mobile.
Apple makes integrated hardware, software, and services. These are their core businesses. They've done them for years, with an incredible degree of innovation and market success. The iPhone is offered as a single, cohesive user experience. You can't buy an Apple handset without OS X, and you can't run an iPhone without hitting Apple's services one way or another (everything from RSS reader to Notification Server to .Mac/MobileMe to iTunes).
Blackberry also follows this model, which is why it's a good sparring partner for the iPhone. Palm did for a while with the now outdated Palm OS, and may again with Nova, but their attention is now split with Windows Mobile, which is Microsoft's hardware-agnostic mobile platform/OS. And it's Microsoft's model, not Apple's, that Google is gunning for.
Google brokers advertising. That's their core business. They try to lock eyeballs to services long enough to serve up ads. They're the 1000lbs gorilla in that space. They don't make hardware, but they do do integration. They want their search (and other services) as available as possible.
Microsoft, whose core business has been monopoly client OS and productivity apps, wants that advertising market going forward, and is pushing Live and Live Mesh to try and jumpstart their own search revenue. Microsoft also has a long, if not illustrious history on handsets, which could well be the computer platform of the future.
The iPhone already gives Google gigantic mobile usage numbers in everything from search to maps. But the iPhone, despite its lust-worthiness, is only one handset. To compete with Microsoft, and to capture the mobile market, Google needs to be on every handset, and one way of getting a huge chunk of "every" is to make their own OS and pit it head-to-head with Windows Mobile. (Likely Windows Mobile 7, depending which delayed OS gets un-delayed faster...)
Will some people choose an Android phone over an iPhone, the same way they choose a Windows Mobile or feature phone today? Sure. But bottom line, and blogsphere headlines notwithstanding, Apple has shown no push into online advertising, and Google has done nothing in the integrated consumer electronic space.
Probably because they understand there's more money to be made together...