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More on the GPhone: I Guess I'm Wrong

By - September 03, 2007

I’m not a fan of the iPhone, because it’s locked and chained into AT&Ts network. I also am not a fan of the Gphone, because, well, I guess I’m not a gadget head, first off, and second, who wants to be in the phone business? It’s better to be in the network/platform business. And I’m going to guess that the Google Phone, whatever it ends up being, will be much more interesting at that level than at the level of the hardware device itself, which of course is what the iPhone is all about.

I hope.

In any case, more details about the phone in this Boston.com piece. It sure sounds like something is up.

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5 thoughts on “More on the GPhone: I Guess I'm Wrong

  1. TomLee says:

    Hi John,

    I surely hope they don’t get into the hardware business either. But, as I said in a comment to your previous post regarding this issue I think the “hardware” portion of this is merely a prototype device that is made to demonstrate the software and applications which google proposes.

    It would be difficult get a maker of another handset to do this.

    I do however recall an E. Schmidt interview on Charlie Rose where Schmidt envisioned the day where people would have a device that would store all their personal information and maybe this hardware device is an early iteration of that.

    Tom

  2. Leo Richard Comerford says:

    Well, the point of the iPhone is really its pleasant user interface, which is mostly a matter of the software; its hardware is mostly unremarkable in comparison to other high-end phones. (Compare with the Nokia N95.)

    Speaking as an curious bystander with no qualifications, it seem to me that any GPhone might have some of the following aims:

    1. Break or weaken the conventional mobile networks’ stranglehold on mobile voice and data. This would generate more Internet use, strengthen the network neutrality flank, and incidentally put the cat among the telcos’ pigeons – all very much to Google’s benefit. To do this most effectively, you’d need plenty of infrastructure as well as some unusual hardware and software on the phone itself. But Google already holds or is reaching for many of the pieces for the infrastructure – GTalk and GMail, GrandCentral, interesting bits of radio spectrum. I suspect this isn’t wholly a happy coincidence.
    2. Get out the kind of device – cheap, highly-portable, Internet-connected and location-aware – that is necessary for location-based services like Google Maps (read ‘location-based ad revenue’) to really hit the Big Time. GPS has to be a very strong possibility for any Googlephone.
    3. Get hold of another outlet for ads, and another goldmine of user data. Google would love to know who’s in your addressbook, when you get up in the morning and where you go for lunch.
    4. Provide a non-PC conduit from Google to users, reducing Google’s vulnerability to interference from Microsoft or (to a lesser extent) Apple and the PC OEMs.

    Those aims would tend to reinforce each other, of course. Overall, a very determined and very well-executed GPhone campaign might in the best case provide Google’s next big hit, keeping its reputation and revenue growth shining for another few years, and at the same time help to see off some of the company’s big threats.

    In terms of cost and technical feasibility, FIC’s Neo1973 is probably a good yardstick. The consumer model is slated to have most of what Google is likely to want in a mobile phone, including GPS and WiFi – support for 3G or exotic wireless bands excepted – at $350. Google could probably also apply large production volumes and a subsidy to the GPhone’s price. (A non-telco that could make money from subsidised phones! That’s probably a pretty good indication of why telephone companies don’t like Google.)

  3. Rob says:

    Yes, i thought *something* was up when the first articles came out in the mainstream UK press… despite a number of people dismissing the articles – which lets face it were pretty weak.

    It is unheard of for traditional British broadsheet papers to just invent articles based on an assumption and then go to print. They normally need two to gain the okay to publish ;-)

  4. Shakir Razak says:

    Hello,

    It looks more of a strategic play like youtube and double-click were meant.

    I don’t think that google is that bothered about selling physical hardware and a decent margin, but more as an enabler and introducer (seeding) of developmental infrastructure into the environment of the google mobile eco-space.

    With so many aspects/components actually being software based, and wi-fi not being unique, I think that this phone is being introduced for focussing marketing hype and as a reference platform, but the whole point of so much java is actually for anyone to be able to download a single environment that will play on any phone that has java, with other handset providers/developers having the gphone (& compatibility) in mind when creating their work.

    I also think that as google rarely cares about the up-front, and has always been about the intersection between search and commerce, they might be willing to literally give away the whole bundle to the commodity manufacturers of the developing world whose products inevitably end up here -just as happened with low cost DVD-players!

    Imagine being able to buy this at walmart/tesco’s without any paper contract sign-up, just hand over the cash and activate/sync your gmail on switch-on.

    Microsoft’s trojan-horse strategy sophisticated by at least 4 (inc. diffusion).

    Yours kindly,

    Shakir Razak

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