It already seems like an eternity ago, but Google’s big Open Handset Alliance / Android announcement was arguably the biggest news of the week, and it inspired a number of tech pundits and bloggers to weigh in — and Steve Ballmer to talk some major smack. Since no one really knows how any of this is going to play out, we thought we’d round up some of the more interesting viewpoints for easy reference — and maybe some easy laughs — when we get our hands on the first “GPhone” in late 2008.We gotta start with John Dvorak, who cut straight to the point and said “The Google phone is doomed.” Additional money quotes include “Google is actually not a charismatic company that can make this new platform happen in a big way,” and “When I see a bunch of joiners jumping on some unknown, unreleased unfinished pipe dream, I actually laugh.” He even roped in the iPhone, calling it more of a “photo album than a phone.” Actually, Dvorak’s whole column is a great read even if just to experience the man’s naked anger towards every phone ever made.
Not to be outdone at the contrarian game, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer came out swinging as well, saying “Their efforts are just some words on paper right now.” Actually, he does have a point there — although Google and HTC may have been developing that “Dream” prototype, the real news will come in late 2008 when Android devices start shipping. How does that compare to WinMo, Steve? “They have a press release, we have many, many millions of customers, great software, many hardware devices and they’re welcome in our world.”Other media members seemed just as skeptical, if not as openly hostile: Robert Scoble was pumped about the open source angle, but wanted to know how Android was going to integrate with his car, saying that Microsoft’s Sync was way ahead in that department. Om Malik started out calling Android “a massive PR move” and started asking why all the OHA partners seemed to be hedging their bets — specifically HTC, which is a huge WinMo shop but also a big part of OHA.
Way on the other side of things is the always-controversial Rob Enderle, who called the smartphone market a “horserace” with Google in possession of the fastest horse: “Unless someone else figures out how to do this as well or better, Google ends up as one of the most powerful companies ever.” That’s a lot of assumptions, but Enderle doesn’t really do it any other way.
Of course, it’s lonely at the top, and apart from Enderle and Google and the OHA partners themselves, there’s doesn’t seem to be a lot of faith that Android will deliver. The going consensus seems to be optimistic hope tempered by a long history with committee-based projects that seem to die on the vine — as Steven Frank put it, “A 34-company committee couldn’t create a successful ham sandwich, much less a mobile application suite.” Ouch.We’d be remiss if we didn’t include our own take, which, as usual, took the form of an open plea to Palm to save itself anyway it can — which it gently ignored. Apart from that, we definitely got the press release vibe from the whole thing — and we really, really want to see a device soon, even if just in prototype form. It seems like it’ll be a long year of speculation until then.