The rumor mill is buzzing about the possible launch of an Android handset that is actually designed BY Google. We heard this rumor before the launch of Android but now it makes much more sense. Here’s why…
The Android platform already has to deal with a challenge the iPhone has avoided. As more and more handsets come our the OS has to work with more and more design variations. It already has to work with
the keyboardless Hero and
the slide-out keyboarded Droid. Not a huge issue thus far but as more and more Android handsets are introduced we will see more and more variations. And each will require its own small (or sometimes not so small) tweaks. At some point it is likely we’ll see issues of apps working one some devices but not others appear since developers will likely have a hard time anticipating EVERY variation.
The iPhone doesn’t have any of this. The iPhone is a single device and, thus far, developers can developer for one set of specs. Sure there are now three generations of hardware (and if you throw in the touch there are six different devices) but the specs reflect evolutionary changes not entirely different configurations. The result is a much more unified eco-system. Say what you want about Apple’s tight control but the three-pronged- Hardware, OS, Apps system leads to an amazingly stable system.
One way for Google to ensure they don’t run into some of the issues we have seen with a splintering of the OS in order to deal with hardware differences is to control the specs of devices running Android. While we have seen that with the Archos 5 which doesn’t have Google’s apps or access to the Android Market, I don’t think we’ll see that with smartphones.
The other way is to produce their own phone. That way, as Michael Arrington puts it,
There won’t be any negotiation or compromise over the phone’s design of features – Google is dictating every last piece of it. No splintering of the Android OS that makes some applications unusable. Like the iPhone for Apple, this phone will be Google’s pure vision of what a phone should be.
That makes a lot of sense and would likely lead to the Android handset to beat. That one COULD be a real iPhone contributor. Let’s just hope it isn’t the same design team that gave is the G1.