Why Google Shouldn't Make Its Own Phone

Illustration for article titled Why Google Shouldn't Make Its Own Phone

According to Business Insider, Google has bigger plans for Motorola than just hoarding Moto's patents. BI is saying Google now wants to use Motorola's team to create its own Google smartphones and tablets. Meaning Google doesn't just want to develop another Nexus One, it wants to make its own iPhone. And that would be a very, very bad idea.

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No One Would Be Happy

Once upon a time, if Google decided to make its own phone hardware and control its own software, it would've been seen as smart. Hell, maybe even romantic. Aww, the colorful company taking control and making its own phones for its scrappy mobile OS. Not anymore. Doing that now would end up poorly for pretty much everyone. Yes, Android has its fair share of problems (hello, fragmentation!) that streamlining with one partner could help address (in a hail mary-ish sorta way) but isn't that the purpose of Nexus already? The Nexus phones serve as the reference phone for Android and it doesn't piss anyone off. A compromise that Google's already come up with!

Right now, Android is bigger than anyone ever imagined it could be, and has become the perfect antithesis to Apple's boring iPhone. You want options? Android got options. You want to tweak your phone? Android welcomes it. This is your phone. There are many that look like it, but this one is yours. That's Android. You can make it more yours than any other phone.

If Google decided to turn to Motorola for its own hardware needs, that would mean Google is turning its back on all of its current hardware partners. Becoming their competitor, not collaborator. Why alienate Samsung? Why make HTC question its loyalty? It's like cheating on an exorbitantly rich spouse who handles all the bills and finances who's also a wonderful person and does exactly what you want it to do and keeps you free from any and all stress. You're doing ridiculously well by letting your partners make the hardware. Keep them happy.

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Hello Windows Phone

You know what's going to happen if Google pisses its partners off? They're all going to go somewhere else. That's not an empty threat. Windows Phone, for all its itty bitty shortcomings, is an awesome OS that's oozing with fresh ideas, great design and Steve Ballmer's open arms. Can you imagine what Samsung and HTC could do with Windows Phone if they actually cared about it? Has Google seen what a focused Nokia could do? The Lumia 800 and 900 set the bar for Windows Phones, if Samsung and HTC dedicated a bulk of their resources to a mobile MIcrosoft device, Google will have an army of top tier phones to contend with. If you're counting, that would mean Apple, Nokia, Samsung and HTC — all which make better phones than Motorola — against, gulp, Moto.

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Seriously, Motorola?

If you were going to attach yourself to a single phone maker, wouldn't you want to choose the very best? Newsflash! Motorola is not the best. Samsung and HTC have made, are making and will make better Android phones than Motorola. The Razr Maxx and Droid Razr are fine phones but they're not on the level of what Samsung is doing with the Galaxy (I, II, Nexus and upcoming III), and is no where close to what HTC has got going with the One X. And is Google expecting Motorola to be capable of creating a tablet that doesn't suck? Motorola's best effort has been the quickly forgotten Xyboard. The Xyboard! Even Google knows Motorola can't make a decent tablet, if the rumors are right that the company's been working with ASUS for its Nexus tablet.

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Yes, Google spent a good chunk of change to buy Motorola and yes, Motorola deserves some credit for nailing the original Droid (at a time when Android phones were still finding their way) and starting the Android wave. But outside of that the Motorola team just hasn't proven itself capable of delivering on its original promise.

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Remember the Google Phone Store?

Google failed at selling the Nexus One. No, that's not an exaggeration. They literally failed at it. For all of Google's excellence in Search and Gmail and Maps and just making cool things and solving problems that we didn't know needed solving, Google is just plain bad at hardware. Google TV only exists as a foil to Apple TV, Roku, Xbox, even the Boxee Box. The Nexus line has gotten less and less input from Google while getting better and better. Google Glasses shows promise but the prototype looks weird and doesn't exist yet. And it's those execs, not people who came over from Moto, who would be calling the shots.

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What the Hell Is Going On?

Just last week, Google was trying to pawn off the hardware division of Motorola. Now Google is trying to use it to make a Google Phone?

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All of these rumors could just be smoke. And frankly, that kind of about-face sounds incredibly directionless for such a smart company, which makes us put a little less stock in it. But the fact is, Google hasn't said what it's doing with Moto. Making its own mobile hardware is a definite possibility.

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But there's no need for a Google phone to compete with the iPhone because Google already competes with the iPhone with Android right now. Focus on making Android wonderful. Bring your partners even closer in so that update happen faster, instead of pushing them into another platform's arms. But most of all, guys? Make up your minds.

DISCUSSION

harrymonmouth
HarryMonmouth

I think you are totally wrong Casey. Not in the usual way that people think Gizmodo writers are just gibbering random bollox, there is a lot of sense in what you say, but I think that you are wrong anyway. I have to admit I do not have the exact figures. If you could write a blog that would let us know how much is financially at stake then I would really enjoy reading it, although it seems a bit more Business Insider than Giz. However, if this was Windows in question I would agree totally but how much money does Google really get out of an open source OS. I guess it must be a lot more than I thought.

Now aside from you finding out and writing that it is in fact a scarily large amount of money at stake I would say that all these partners have ballsed it up entirely. The problem with Android is the exact same problem as with Windows. Now I am not saying I am an Apple fanboy or anything but you have to admit that system of making an OS and matching it to specific hardware has worked for them. They used frankly underpowered hardware for years but it worked so smoothly that they got away with it and that has now put them in the position where they can use awesome hardware and get far better deals from manufacturers than anyone else. This is just an assumption based upon how much profit they have been making and how much their hardware has been improving, and also the fact that if Apple says it wants a shed load of something then no one else can buy any for the rest of the year.

But this brings me to Google. When they first brought out Android I thought 'excellent, a game changer, this is what everyone has been waiting for'. I was disappointed to discover it was just the phone equivalent of Vista. It was after I managed to save enough money to buy the best Android phone on the market that I became so annoyed within 3 months that I put it on ebay and bought an iPhone. Not looked back since. The problem is that they do not have enough control of the hardware. If they could match the phone to the hardware the same way that Apple does then they would be able to make devices that would be capable of breaking the Apple monopoly.

Do you think that Apple would care about losing all those partners? They wouldn't have anything to do with them in the first place. Result: Apple is the most valuable tech company in the world. Shortly before the death of His Steveness the most valuable company Full Stop. If Google took the same path and built an awesome OS and an awesome phone to match it then they would be able to do what Apple have done, but with one big difference. They would not only dominate the market, they could actually bring down Apple as well. Google would be bigger than Apple. Look how big Apple is. Do you think that Google is hated as much as Apple? Not even close.

If Google was to do this then they have enough fans, myself included that they would take over the tech industry. Screw HTC and Samsung, sure they make ok phones but they don't make brilliant phones. Google do not need them anywhere near as much as they need to take Android to the next level. As to Motorola, I do not think they are anywhere near as poor as you think they are. Some of their designs are revolutionary. Sure they suck in many ways but all these other so called 'non-sucky' companies all suck as well. If Google could match their products specifically to Motorola's hardware a good deal of that suck would vanish. Hardware is easy. Sure it is difficult to get into but that is just costs. When it comes down to it making hardware is nowhere near as hard as designing a decent OS. I could probably design the hardware for a phone and need very little guidance to actually make it work. It is like building a house, everything is there in front of you and you just stick it together in a logical way. It is building the OS that is the difficult bit; why else do you think that there are so many crappy phone manufacturers but so few decent OSs.