Android Trying For Cool (Again)

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Although at one point in my life my business cards actually said “Apple Evangelist” and I do have seven Apple products in my house I don’t think of myself as being one of the Apple Borg members. I couple of years ago I gave up in disgust on Android phones and took up with iPhone and it’s been a long love affair ever since. The best Android phone I ever had by far was the Google G1. It came out in 2008 and I was an early adopter. It was well made, worked with my car (at the time it was G1, iPhone or nothing) and well designed. The subsequent Androids I had were a long slide into clumsy ugly boated garbage. Google has had a weird relationship with phone hardware ever since….and it’s about to get weirder.

There is an inherent tension between Google (who makes Android) and the makers of hardware which runs on Android. Google wants it clean, pure and if possible covered in ads from Google, the other hardware guys want to make it special for their users often by lathering on so many whistles and bells that actually using it as a phone becomes a problem. Google has tried to square this circle several times by buying Motorola, releasing the Nexus tablet/phone and other whacky phone ideas like the recent design your own phone from a kit venture also from Motorola. What they have been sorely lacking is the cool factor.

Android is essentially open source, so phone manufacturers can play to their hearts content producing in many cases cheap but ugly or expensive but ugy phones. If you want cool you still really need an iPhone. The comedic effect is enhanced by the fact that Apple post Jobs really hasn’t done that much to make the iPhone much better….Android is lagging all through their own efforts. Don’t get me wrong…Android is a statistical success outselling iOS handily. It’s just that the horrible job being done by manufacturers using it is clearly driving Google nuts.

In an attempt to get their cool on again Google is planning to scrap their existing Google made and branded Nexus handsets and launch a new line of Google Silver Branded phones. These will probably not be manufactured by Google (the likes of HTC will likely be paid handsomely to do the work) but they will be very closely controlled by Google. In addition to actually useful stuff like water proofing (finally!) and real voice control, Google will rule with a rod of iron what can and can’t go on the phone as delivered. Gone will be the bloated heaps of OEM software designed to enrage en users. Instead Android Silver will be super fast, elegant and perhaps actually cool again. This will likely turn the heat up on Apple to take the iPhone somewhere new, interesting and even more cool….can’t wait.

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