The Google Phone: This changes everything (mostly)

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Startup-Hunting at the End of the Earth

We don’t have much information on the Google Phone just yet. In fact, it sounds more like a party favor than anything else. However, if and when Google starts selling this thing, prepare for some of the strangest – and coolest – times in mobile we’ve ever experienced.

What do we know? It’s an HTC phone – probably the Passion, a distant cousin to the beautiful HD2 – with large touchscreen. It’s GSM unlocked and everyone at Google has one so whatever the super secret specs are, they won’t stay super secret for long.

But what if Google starts to sell this thing? This is “a big deal” on the level of Neo learning Kung Fu in The Matrix. This means Google is making hardware.

For nigh on three decades computer manufacturers have been secure in their positions of power. Dell and HP, for example, ruled the roost while upstarts from Asia like Sony positioned themselves in the consumer electronics market. This stasis has held back innovation for years.

But suddenly service providers are doing hardware. Amazon has the Kindle, Barnes&Noble has a lumpen Nook, and now Google has a phone. What’s next? The Credit Suisse Fondue Set?

When service providers make hardware, they have a different set of priorities. They have a lower number of SKUs so their products have to be great. They control a lot of the software so the UI is great. They control the distribution so there’s a bit of the “rarity” and “early adopter” factor to consider. This sort of stuff is what CE and PC manufacturers would kill for – after all, when’s the last time you drooled over a desktop?

PC makers are working in commodities. Service providers traffic in rarity. In this neophilic age it’s the first few months of a product’s existence that is most important. When Dell launches a phone, it’s news. When Google launches a phone it’s a Moon Shot.

We don’t know enough right now to say how interesting this be, but it’s definitely intriguing.

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