Google Phone coming in 2008

Computer World says that Google may market an iPhonesque mobile device next year.  I bet it’ll be great.    I wrote an article over at the TechDirt Insight Community about this a few months ago (before the news from Computerworld – I didn’t realize Google had a phone project in the hopper already).

Here’s what I wrote over there in response to an insight community issue:

Google is in a spectacular position to launch a mobile device for many reasons, here are three:

1) Branding power.   Google is already verb “to search online” and could become a noun with the “Google” handheld broadband/phone/pda.

2) Speed of development due to corporate structure.

3) Existing prototype.
Apple’s iPhone already exists as a new standard for this type of device, effectively saving years of prototyping.   The Google device will have all this functionality PLUS better web integration (thanks to Google’s greater familiarity with online systems and also will have a LARGER touchscreen, which will ultimately determine the winner in this category because browsing ease is the greatest appeal of these devices.

Apple has hyped and branded this type of device already.   However, it will have poor initial adoption due to cost and competition from inferior but similar devices.     Google can subsidize the devices in part by letting this device Google’s mobile advertising platforms, undercutting Apple’s cost by hundreds of dollars per device.

Features and functionality:  Much like the Apple iPhone, the device would have a relatively large touchscreen interface (but larger than iPhone –  a key marketing point for the Google).  Flexible web browsing without mobile programming required for sites.   The device will provide a quality phone, high quality camera, and have PDA functionality.   Pictures, voice, and PDA functions will automatically integrate with an online control panel the user can access from the device or from any computer.   Google mail and Calendar online entries would synch with the device to allow offline mailing and calendar access.   This feature would also serve to enhance Google’s existing Calendar and mail which suffer from “only available online” challenges.

What would you do to make it a valuable addition to the Google product portfolio?

Mobile advertising is an explosive market, and without hardware control Google may lose market share to companies that have hardware advantages.   Also, for reasons stated above Google could create a superior device, thus winning both as a hardware and as an advertising provider.

Good luck Google.   As a stockholder in Yahoo I sure wish they would create this type of thing but I fear … they won’t or can’t.   Google can.



David Berlind’s dumb and dumber hypothesis is right on

David Berlind is a very insightful writer over at ZDNET and I loved yesterday’s post. David observes that those who think we should not complain about computer problems are *dumb*. He also notes that even dumber are those that think their ability to solve computer problems means that others are idiots.

I’ve fixed my share of problems and as any regular computer user *must* note, many times the fixes are counter intuitive or lucky. Generally the problems that are easiest are those you spent many hours suffering with at some previous time. There’s nothing more annoying than wannabe pseudo-expert PC-hardware-hack jerks who make others feel bad after they stumble on a solution rather than noting that computers still suck in many respects. They’ve come a long way and it’s not reasonable to suggest it’s easy to redesign things to work seamlessly, but it’s downright ridiculous to suggest we should not try. Things are improving but they have a long way to go, so I agree with David and say:

Keep on complaining!

(just keep it polite – that will work better anyway)

Dvorak – 2.0 bubble to burst for sure. ?

The normally perceptive John Dvorak may be showing signs of his “old computer” and “old media” roots by predicting that Web 2.0 will be collapsing for sure. He’s certainly correct that things *might* collapse but everybody knows this. New massive economies – be they the online economy or China’s exploding economy – are inherently somewhat unstable as they rapidly change and flex to meet new demands and bring in new ideas.

However I think John’s missing the fact that the online economy is now well established enough that although players – even big ones like Google – may fall or stumble it is very unlikely we’ll see the widespread systemic meltdown of the late 1990’s. The most important reason is that online advertising is more effective than offline advertising. Ads are the mother’s milk of online business. Google revenues, for example, are about 99% advertising. Can this market collapse? Unlikely unless because it’s delivering superior ROI to advertisers even as those advertisers continue to spend on less effective offline media, which is still the lion’s share of total ad spending.

In the 1990’s the PE ratios for companies were often off the charts, where now we see Yahoo, MS, and Google all well within the historic ranges for technology companies. The names may change but it’s very unlikely that the revenue base – advertising – will dry up anytime soon. Ergo, the web will continue to grow and evolve and continue to replace traditional media with …. better stuff.

Sorry John – time to write that screenplay?

Don Dodge has this right – Old media influence, not Web 2.0 media, is what John should be fretting about.

Caveat:   As I’ve noted before many times the new paradigm for Web 2.0 companies is an evolutionary model.   As with species we are going to see that most of the Web 2.0 companies will fail and die.  But this is NOT at all a ‘collapse’ because the system as a whole will continue to expand and thrive.    We are seeing high numbers of low capitalized companies  with VC funders of those few that get money simply hoping for a few winners.  This is, in some ways, analogous to the way nature kills off most gene mutations, leaving the most successful animals to thrive and be copied (aka reproduce).   This is not an old business model but it’s a perfectly reasonable one … unless you get killed by it in which case it’s still perfectly reasonable, you just won’t like it.