The New York Times' David Pogue was beset by the Google Android Army, which, though I suspect it has massed in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show beginning Jan. 7, clearly had some reserves guarding the front lines of mainstream media.
You can't fault the guy for his gut feeling after testing the device. I respected his review, tempered as it was compared with the likes of those on TechCrunch.
If he found the gadget underwhelming, he found it underwhelming. Pogue noted:
"Reader feedback about my review of Google's new cellphone yesterday was unusually voluminous and, in some sectors, vitriolic. Where I had written, "The Nexus One is an excellent app phone, fast and powerful but marred by some glitches," some readers seemed to read, "You are a pathetic loser, your religion is bogus and your mother wears Army boots.""
You need to read Pogue's analysis of the finer points Android fans nailed him on. For example: "You write that the Nexus One doesn't have a multitouch screen, but it does; Google just didn't enable it. You should be fired for your incompetence."
Pogue noted that if the feature is disabled on the phone it doesn't count. I agree. For example, I can use pinch and zoom out of the box on the HTC Droid Eris, but not the Motorola Droid, or apparently the Nexus One without taking some other measures, such as using the Dolphin browser.
Update: Reader Chris Lucernoni pointed out that people can use Dolphin Browser on the Moto Droid and use multitouch. "I think the point of what the readers were saying is that you can multitouch on the Nexus, but it isn't enabled for the native apps."
Okay, but your average smartphone user probably isn't going to know what the Dolphin browser is. It's the "if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it" notion. For most users who turn on the phone and try to pinch and zoom and can't, there isn't multitouch.
Pogue's main point kicks in here for me:
"If you write anything positive about an Apple product or negative about a Microsoft product, you get buried by hate mail and personal attacks. The only worse result is if you say something negative about an Apple product or positive about a Microsoft product, in which case you get exposed to the true ugliness of the human spirit (and sometimes, in fact, physical threats). But guess what, gang? There's a new religion in these holy wars. And it's Google."
I published this piece Jan. 5 about how I wouldn't spend $1,000 for an Apple tablet computer. I was similarly torched by Apple fanboys and fangirls.
But I hope this is not to be the same for Android developers and fans. I'm appealing to the Android crusaders out there: Stop the madness now before it's too late.
Google is already being compared to Microsoft for growing too big and greedy for its own good. Many believe and fear -- myself included -- that Google is another Microsoft in the making if it's not careful.
Stop, Android folk, before you gain one of those reputations that make you targets for ... whomever decides to slag Android and Google. It happened to Apple and its fans, as Pogue noted:
"Apple was perceived as the counterculture underdog. But 200 million iPods later, some people obviously see the former "think different" company as the "you're all a bunch of consumer sheep" company."
Android fans: Don't go down that road. Censor yourselves, or at least think of how you come off before you dash off ill-advised, gut-punch comments.
That's all I ask, for now anyway. I respectfully refrain from commenting on the Nexus One until I get the review copy (Google says it's in the mail).
In a delicious parallel along this Apple versus Google front, kudos to TechCrunch's MG Siegler for weathering a merciless hounding by this high-tech Ryan Seacrest counterpart, who prods him to sing the praises of the Nexus One on "Attack of the Show":
He's used the iPhone for three years, and even said at the end of this clip that he may play with Nexus One until the new iPhone comes out next June.
It just goes to show how otherwise good programs sometime woefully lack context. Look, if I were producing a high-tech show, I'd want Siegler on, too. The man knows his material cold. But does anyone really expect a devoted Apple user to do cartwheels about an Android phone? Show host Kevin Pereira does. He might as well have asked David Pogue to come on and discuss the Nexus One. Now that would have been funny.
Speaking of which, what's with the laugh track? This wasn't funny. This isn't funny. This is serious business. Go bug some starlets.
If anything makes Siegler do cartwheels this month, it will be the Apple tablet.