Journal Weaves FUD Web for Google Android

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-06-23 Print this article Print

The Wall Street Journal has digested the telephone company, analyst and pundit spin for a story on the alleged delay of phones based on Google's mobile Android operating system.

Google has said since it unveiled Android Nov. 5 that there would be phones based on the operating system in the second half of 2008. The Wall Street Journal, citing Google as a source, is reporting that the Android handsets "won't arrive until the fourth quarter." 

Confused, I asked Google for clarification. Will the Android phones be delayed as the WSJ reported? The answer was a resounding, "No."

"We remain on schedule to deliver the first Android-based handset in the second half of 2008 and we're very excited to see the momentum continuing to build behind the Android platform among carriers, handset manufacturers, developers and consumers," a Google spokesperson told me today, June 23.

So, where is the delay? The WSJ is cranking the fear, uncertainty and doubt machine into high gear, trying to find an angle to make news where there isn't any.

The WSJ quotes Google's Android mastermind Andy Rubin himself in the story, but doesn't have him conceding a delay. Folks, the WSJ is serving you spin.

Let's look at the anecdotes in the story: "T-Mobile USA expects to deliver an Android-powered phone in the fourth period. But that launch is taking up so much of Google's attention and resources that Sprint Nextel Corp., which had hoped to launch an Android phone this year, won't be able to, a person familiar with the matter said."

So not every operator will be able to put out a phone on time. That's not really news. Google never promised every operator would. The anecdote fails in painting an accurate portrait of a delay because it assumes a claim Google never made. This tidbit is also undermined by the WSJ's detail that Sprint's delay is partially due to its management changes.

Was Google supposed to account for that?

Google is doing its part to get the Android show on the road. The software features are there. eWEEK's Darryl Taft saw and covered the prototype at the Google I/O show in May, where at the time Rubin himself confirmed a second-half-of-the-year delivery for the technology on phones.

I spoke to a spokesperson for a major telco who said while he has no specific information to add to the FUD that Google will experience delays getting Android handsets out the door, folks in his circle are skeptical about Google's ability to deliver as it promised and hardly bashful about bashing Google.

After all, this is new territory for the search giant.

"Some companies are famous for overhanging the market, saying we'll have XYZ by ABC date. I'm sure they mean it, but sometimes they're trying to get a competitive advantage or freeze up others from their offering, you know, keep the consumer marketplace focused on what they're going to have rather than what's available in stores today. Fair enough. But the less experience you have in a given arena, like Google in wireless, the bigger the chance you don't understand what it takes to get a product to launch," the spokesperson said.
Now, if not one Android-based phone arrives before the end of the year, I will applaud the WSJ for laying the groundwork for reporting on Google's struggles in getting Android to market. But right now, the story reads like the latest version of FUD from people who believe Google will need more time delivering Android.

The WSJ seems to be hanging on the words of telco spokespeople who either want Android to fail, or naysayers who don't think Google has any business moving from search, ads and apps to the mobile side (there are lots of high-tech analysts and pundits who feel this way).

Whether or not Google should have promised a late 2008 delivery date for Android phones remains to be seen, but basing a story on delays across the board when Google clearly claims it's on schedule is an unfair way to spin a news story. |

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