This week, Google announced the Open Handset Alliance, and I’m feeling like a bit of a broken record: I’m underwhelmed.
The popular consensus is that the savvy consumer wants wireless providers relegated to simple utility providers (and hey, toss in my cable company while we are at it). Why? Because I really don’t care who gets me the internet, as long as I have access to it, and all the services I could possibly want delivered in a provider agnostic way. What can Verizon really do for me beyond lowering my rates? I suppose they could lock me into their ‘appo-sphere’, and charge as much as they like in their competition-free zone, and continue to charge ludicrous amounts for text messages.
Well, Google announced that they don’t like that, and they see a different future. At least we’re on the same page here. My problem is, I don’t know what OHsA does to get us there. Yes, they've 'committed’ a variety of companies to the 'success’ of their vision: developers developing apps.
The problem is, so what? Giving them the benefit of the doubt, as Dick suggests, let’s assume OHsA creates an above average reference phone, signs some manufacturers and carriers, and enables a variety of gung-ho developers. And when the average consumer gets his hands on this platform-phone, she can choose from thousands of apps to fit her needs specifically.
Would I swap my iPhone for that? Not likely. My iPhone is a solid device, with a holistic vision, and the right amount of cool. I bought an experience, not a platform. An OHsA phone is a platform, and I just can’t get too excited about running afoul of all the platform issues that plague my desktop, while I’m trying to make and receive calls. It’s part of the reason I ditched my MotoQ without blinking.
When it comes down to it, I don’t see OHsA redefining the carriers. I do see Apple doing just that with the iPhone. All eyes are on the phone, NOT the carrier. And when the AT&T and Apple’s contract comes to an end, I look forward to the other players scrambling to support the iPhone, and making each other largely interchangeable. Just a few more years…