On walkabout in life and technology

How Google Failed to Fix the Mobile Market

MG Siegler, in his blog parislemon, wrote an excellent but badly titled article called Why I Hate Android on how Google blew its, and therefore our, chances at an equitable mobile phone market in the USA.

Google wanted to give-away or sell Android phones unlocked in stores and allow consumers to then choose their carrier. Consumers could then get the best phones, a great operating system, all updates and choice in carriers, something the iPhone only gets us half way to.

Think about this for a second. Instead of going to the store of a single carrier and having a dozen shitty phones shoved in your face by salespeople that made commission, you’d be in total control of the process. The end result of consumers getting to choose their carriers (and phones and plans) was clear: major competition and subsequently a rush of better deals from said carriers to ensure customer activation and retention. 

Or, you could buy whatever phone you wanted unlocked. Eventually, pay-as-you-go SIM cards would pop up in the U.S. as a result.

Instead, Google did a deal with Verizon, who screwed them on the Nexus One and is screwing all of us on Android phones. And because of that bad deal, we got the same out of Sprint and AT&T. And because of those deals we get all these crappy Samsung and HTC phones.

It got worse. These carrier deals mean that almost none of the android phones to be released in 2012 in the USA will even contain or get the latest version of Android (see Ice Cream Sandwich and NFC Are No-Shows at CES). That 2 more years for most consumers on a 2 year old operating system that has been seriously crapified by the carriers.

Not done yet. To appease Verizon, Google even put its weight around the removal of real net neutrality on mobile networks, an FCC ruling that royally screws Google and us.

And so the US consumer loses again. And Google gets perceived to be a little more evil.

I don’t usually agree with this guy, but if you want to know what really happened, its worth a read.