More 2010 predictions, this time for Google, which is reeling right now from cyber attacks in China and customer attacks in the U. S. where the Nexus One is getting an underwhelming response from early adopters.
Here’s word from a friend of mine — a smart phone whore — who had a Nexus One for a month and didn’t tell me until this morning. Still, his reactions are informed and represent a month of experience. “I’m not too impressed with it as a phone, ” says my friend. “It’s basically a wash. Google is screw’n it big time with the horrible plans they are dishing it out on t-Mobile and the price is ridiculous. To beat all, it’s radio is horrible, so bad that I literally gave it back and returned to a clunky G1. There is no decent smart phone out right now except the Moto Cliq unless you are lucky enough to have good AT&T coverage with an iPhone, which I don’t.”
Early Nexus One users hate the phone, hate the plans, hate the network, hate the price, but what they hate most of all is Google’s lack of customer service. Shouldn’t Google have seen this coming? Of course, but the company operates in a bubble that market realities often can’t penetrate. Eventually Google will be good at this stuff, but how long will that take? Too long?
What amazes me is the bad radio given that this is an HTC product and HTC is a very good mobile phone manufacturer. Taking a guess about what’s happening there I predict that HTC warned Google about the radio problem but there were so many IQ points jetting around the conference room at Google that nobody bothered to actually listen they were so much in love with each other. Sometimes just being smarter is not enough. In fact just being smarter is never enough, even at chess – a lesson Google will have to learn the hard way, I suppose.
Now to China where hackers or spies or who-knows-who have been attacking Google and the search giant is threatening to take its ball and go home, leaving completely the Chinese market. What sense does this make? It makes no sense to me. Google is going to have zero impact on China — zero — by abandoning that market, which Microsoft and Yahoo will gladly fill. so threatening to walk away is simply stupid.
Of course Google couches all this in terms of rejecting Chinese government censorship, which is a good thing, but we’re still left with either posturing that isn’t real or stupid-ass behavior that is real but shows this isn’t likely to be the Google Decade after all.
Here’s a better approach for Google to take. Stand in front of a bank of cameras and microphones my very impressive friend Tiffany Montague (Google’s link with NASA, keeper of the Google G-V parking spaces at Moffett Field, and internal space expert) to have her explain how Google is going to launch a satellite Internet service similar to one I described in a recent column, specifically to bring freedom of information (and advertising) to totalitarian regimes everywhere.
The technology exists, Google could finance it, and China couldn’t stop it.
This assumes, of course, that Google has some guts, which I doubt.
Otherwise, 2010 looks like a good year for Google mainly because Internet advertising will recover somewhat and Google should make some progress in phones, browsers, operating systems, apps, and the cloud in general. In those areas they are still ahead of the curve and ahead of the curve is a great place to be.