UPDATED: Google to Pull a Zune, Go Head-to-Head with iPhone in Software and Hardware Next Year?
UPDATE: Daring Fireball points out:
[This story] puts [TechCrunch's Michael] Arrington on the same side as the almost-always-full-of-sh*t Scott Moritz. On the other side: Andy Rubin, vice president of engineering for Android at Google, who just two weeks ago said Google would not “compete with its customers” and “We’re not making hardware. We’re enabling other people to build hardware.”
So either Mike Arrington is totally wrong or Andy Rubin is a liar.
Then again, Apple typically den
ORIGINAL: Could Google be "pulling a Zune" and going from software provider to integrated device maker, ready to take on the iPhone with a pure, straight up Google gPhone? That the latest... retread of the old rumor, though TechCrunch is basically singing a castrati-high "nailed it!" at this point.
Rumors of a gPhone, or Google Phone, predated Android, but instead of following Apple, Palm, and RIM in the integrated hardware/software model, Google decided to go the Windows Mobile path, create Android OS (though with a liberal Apache license) and let other hardware makers do their thing.
Microsoft did similar a few years ago, competing against the iPod with PlaysForSure software for a variety of different music player manufacturers. Then they teamed up with Toshiba, killed PlaysForSure, and released the Microsoft-only Zune. Needless to say, their previous partners were not filled with happy joy (and how many PlaysForSure devices do you see today, oh bitter-named irony?)
There's no indication, however, that if Google made a gPhone they would in any way kill Android for partners. Indeed, Nokia makes Symbian devices now that it controls (and is in the process of open sourcing) that OS, right alongside other manufacturers. But is it fair to be scared of Google now, having seen them decimate the competition in everything from search (anyone remember Alta Vista?) to turn-by-turn Navigation (remember those TomTom and Garmin stock charts, post Android 2.0 announcement?)
And is it even more fair when we consider that the tech community is realizing Android isn't as open as they once hoped? Casey at Android Central sums it up:
Why would I buy a Motorola DROID or Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 if I can get an official Google Phone built from the ground up for Android? How will companies feel if the Google Phone launches with 3.0 but every other Android device is stuck at 2.0? Will they continue to make Android devices? Google would be leaving the companies that backed Android from the beginning in the dust. Simply put, the existence of a Google Phone automatically makes third-party Android phones second-tier devices because Google's priority will shift to the Google Phone, all others second.
But back to the iPhone. One of Steve Jobs' favorite quotes is from Alan Kay -- ""People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware." Google bringing a first-party gPhone to the table would likely be the strongest competition yet for the iPhone. As much as Google's Android partners should be afraid, Apple should be more afraid. And they should -- and no doubt are -- working even harder on iPhone 2010 and the iPhone OS 4.0. And that's great news for iPhone users.