10 Reasons Why a Google Phone Is a Bad Idea

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2009-11-30 Print this article Print

News Analysis: The idea of a Google Phone is quickly becoming the talk of the town. Will Google release such a device? It's possible, but it's not an ideal market move for the search and Web services giant. There are lots of reasons why Google shouldn't venture into the hardware business. Here are 10 of them.

Now that Android has taken its place as a viable alternative to the iPhone, rumors are swirling that Google is planning to release an Android-based smartphone. Already, some users are getting excited about the possibility of Google moving beyond the Web and software businesses to get into the mobile phone hardware market. But should they?

There's little debating that a Google Phone would significantly impact the mobile market. The device would be as hyped as the Apple iPhone. It could also bring several more users to the Android platform. But would it really be best for Google? And, in turn, would it be best for Android and its users? I just don't think so.

Here are 10 reasons why:

1. Google is a software provider

Perhaps the most obvious reason why Google shouldn't develop a Google Phone is that the company thrives on software development. Android is a great mobile operating system. Chrome is a fantastic browser. Even Google Docs adequately competes against Microsoft Office on several levels. Why should Google shift its focus for the sake of a short-lived success in the mobile-hardware space? It doesn't make sense.

2. What about the vendors?

Google needs to remember that it has partnered with several hardware vendors that rely upon the company's software to sell phones. If Google releases the Google Phone, it's not beyond the realm of possibility that some vendors would have a problem with that. The last thing they want is more competition-especially from the company they're acquiring software from.

3. What if the phone is a loser?

If Google releases the Google Phone, there's no doubt that it will be one of the most hyped phones of the year. But what if it fails? At that point, Android could be put on life support. Consumers who don't follow the tech business closely will think twice about buying a phone that has anything to do with Google. And in the process, both vendors and developers would lose. There's a lot of risk associated with the Google Phone.

4. Market dilution

A Google Phone would contribute to an even greater dilution of Android-based devices. When HTC was the only company releasing Android phones, some folks were hoping for more. But as time passes and more Android-based devices are hitting store shelves, when does enough become enough? Fewer, high-quality devices is far better than too many average Android smartphones. Google shouldn't contribute to market dilution.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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