I saw so many posts about the new Google Nexus phone (I liked the one on TC, so I’m linking to that one) that I wanted to post my quick thoughts. In the interest of fair disclosure, I used to work at Google back in the day and know and respect a lot of the folks working on Android.
One of the big risks in being in the platform business is that nobody will build the things on top of it that you as the platform owner want to see built to showcase the opportunity. Facebook built apps on its own platform (photos, groups, events) before their platform really took off. The iPhone launched with some Apple-created apps – Maps (via Google), mail, calendar, etc. There’s a really good reason for this – as the platform owner, you want to make sure that some of the “right” stuff gets built and made available. And what’s the “right” stuff? It’s generally whatever you, as the platform owner, think needs to exist to showcase the power and potential of your platform.
For me, there is only one interpretation of what the Google Nexus phone means. It means that Google did not believe that its handset partners, left to their own devices, were on track to deliver an integrated consumer device (software + hardware) that would properly showcase Android and develop consumer interest sufficient to win iPhone converts or those who want a smartphone but are on the sidelines. The Droid hasn’t done that. Neither has the G1. I don’t think Google necessarily wants to play the role that Apple does in the iPhone ecosystem. But without a strong exemplar of what a great Android device can do, it will be very difficult to compete with the iPhone ecosystem.