Every week there is a near baseless prediction that Android is delayed or merging from this analyst or that source but often lacking in substance or firm data. I interviewed an analyst that has both substance and data due in large part to his twenty plus years of experience in sales, strategic marketing, and business development roles at several leading corporations including IBM, General Electric, and Motorola. Bill Hughes is a Principal Analyst for In-Stat’s wireless research group and spoke about Android in Forbes last month and now provided GAB (Google And Blog) follow-up answers to recent Android questions.
- What are your thoughts on the buzz about Symbian and Android merging? Or LiMo?
The article takes pains to point out that this is speculation. I find such a scenario as unlikely. There is little in the respective business plans that would lead to the conclusion that such a merger would make much sense. I see Google’s motivation is to kick start a location-sensitive search model that, from their perspective, is moving at a glacial pace. That means working with Apple, the Symbian Foundation, Android, or whoever it takes, to make this application a reality. I wrote about this in my report, “The iPhone and gPhone: Shaking Up the Wireless World” (IN0804043WH). Google wants to make things happen by pursuing multiple approaches. Mergers would probably be counterproductive to this goal. It takes time and resources away from a viable alternative with which they are cooperating. (My thinking is it would be great, but don’t see it happening too soon especially as Nokia takes control of the Symbian Foundation.)
- Do you feel the first gPhone will come out in October when T-Mobile opens up its 3G service? Speculation is it will be the HTC Dream.
I have not special insight into this. It seems reasonable for October.
- Do you sense they will be the craze of purchasing a gPhone like it has been for the iPhone and if not, what should Google/OHA do about this?
It is not realistic to plan for the enthusiasm that the iPhone has generated any more than my report, “The iPhone and gPhone: Shaking Up the Wireless World” should win a Pulitzer prize and the “Google And Blog” should win the Nobel prize for literature. The Apple mystique cannot be duplicated quickly or easily. While I believe that many enthusiasts will want to see it soon after launch, I doubt that the wireless operators will need to bring out the velvet ropes to control the crowds at the mall.
- What are your thoughts on the developer petition for an updated SDK?
I believe that all of us that use email regularly, one time or another, have sent an email to precisely the wrong distribution list. You cannot un-ring a bell. I imagine that Google did not release the next version because it has not been vetted internally and that the version sent to the Android challenge winners was to be a beta test. This puts the Android team in a tough position. While they have fixed up some of the bugs reported in the initial version, there are undoubtedly new ones in the new version. There always are. Plus the documentation and other support tools are probably not ready for widespread distribution. At this point, the only option, to avoid alienating the developers that are essential to Android’s success, is to get it ready as soon as possible by pouring resources into getting the new version ready as soon as possible.
- As well about the Sprint manager being silenced after speaking on Android?
Many companies have formal procedures for talking to the press. It is unwise to have employees stating facts or opinions about anything that is not officially released through proper channels. This is the case, even if what they say is perfectly in line with company policy. If nothing else, it is too easy to conflict with financial regulations that restrict what a company can say about its future prospects. In this case, it looks to me that the Sprint employee was speaking honestly, but without official sanction. My expectation is that this is not anything that Google has not heard before. Coming from Sprint through unofficial channels will be an irritant, but I do not believe that big a deal.
- What other stumbling blocks do you see for the gPhone?
The first key for Android will be attracting and keeping a dynamic developer ecosystem. The second key will be to find a way to share advertising revenue with wireless operators. I would not doubt that the handset manufacturers would also want a piece of the advertising revenue stream, although I do not think that they have the market power to demand it.