BC News has published this doomsday piece by Michael S. Malone, who notes that while Google's Nexus One device is getting a lot of buzz, it won't rightfully challenge Apple's iPhone hegemony.

Google is expected to unveil the device Jan. 5 at an Android press event at the company's Mountain View, Calif., Googleplex. We know the device is made by HTC, runs Android 2.1 and is super fast, with a Motorola Droid-like big touchscreen.

Documents indicate Google will sell the phone online for $529.99 unlocked or $179.99 through T-Mobile with a two-year contract.

Read Malone's piece and weep, Googlers and Google Fanboys alike. Most of the piece is an unabashed tribute to how great Apple is, detailing how great Apple's iPhone is and how most of whatever Apple turns out for consumers turns to gold. If you dislike Apple, this may set you to Level Seething, or at the least redden your cheeks a tad:

It has taken nearly two years for Apple's competitors to field products that are even close to the iPhone; to identify weaknesses in the device (such as the lack of a real keyboard for texters, its commitment to AT&T as service provider) and respond. Apple, meanwhile, has used that time to continuously improve the iPhone - the result being that the company now dominates the smartphone world to a degree Apple hasn't enjoyed since the early years of the Macintosh.
True, true. Motorola's Droid is passable, shipping nearly one million units since the November launch, which is not bad for the holiday season.

But it's no iPhone, and neither is Verizon Wireless' lower brow Droid companion, the Droid Eris. But after Googlers were given the device to dogfood, some concluded that the Nexus One could be the first real iPhone challenger.

Malone iced this idea:

Unfortunately, the early reports suggest that what Google will introduce next week, the Nexus One, will be a largely conventional smartphone. That's a pity because I suspect Google will never get this chance again.
Malone does suggest that it would be unwise to bet against Google, given its core search strength, smart people and billions in cash to spend. Moreover, he wrote:

Google could stun the tech world - and hit Apple at its weakest point - by coming out with a "Webphone," a device that uses the Internet, a la Skype, as its transmission medium and thus escaping forever the tyranny of the phone companies. There's a lot of problems with that strategy, of course, but it would certainly shock the world and put Apple on the defensive. Unfortunately, the early reports suggest that what Google will introduce next week, the Nexus One, will be a largely conventional smartphone.
But one can easily tell Malone doesn't believe the Google-stunning-the-world scenario is likely, so drunk on Apple's Kool-Aid is he.

Interestingly, Malone alludes to the Google Voice scenario so many of us have noted -- that Google could take the Gizmo5 assets, patch them to the Google Voice app and make it available on the Nexus One -- but says the Nexus One won't be that device.

Perhaps that will be Google's Gold nugget Jan. 5. We know, or think we know everything else already about the smartphone.

How cool would it be if Google surprised everyone by bridging Google Voice to the Nexus One, creating a device to circumvent the telcos and disrupt the industry? That would be huge, bigger than free turn-by-turn GPS for Android devices.

He goes on to write that the Apple Tablet will help Apple slingshot past the consumer electronics industry again, putting further distance between Apple and Google and everyone else:

Once again, Apple will have a new product that challenges convention, seemingly obsoletes an entire multibillion-dollar industry (in this case, handheld computers) while overwhelming a second, newer industry (netbooks, such as the Kindle) and yet is still stunning to look at. In other words, the Google phone will be a loser, even if it is a winner, because it will probably diminish Google's reputation as a tech juggernaut.
Jesus. You can't be a Google fan and not be a little depressed, or even angry at this flippant reference to Google as being a loser here. If we are to take Malone's dire characterization to heart, we could also very well agree that Google might as well jettison Android.

I disagree. I don't see how the Nexus One could be a "loser," or how it could ding Google's reputation. Android has its fragmentation issues on top of the uphill battle versus the iPhone, but that hasn't weakened Google's position in tech.

Here's how Malone's theory doesn't work. Think of iPhone and the App Store as a consumer electronics play, while Android is a mobile search and advertising play.

Sure, Google would be screwed if Android wasn't just another effort to pad Google's already massive search ad marketshare, albeit on the mobile Web. But that's what it is and, hell, mobile searches on Google.com were up 30 percent year-over-year in 2009.

For as much as some of us want to see Android fly high versus iPhone and all proprietary platforms, Google doesn't need to beat Apple. It just needs to be a viable alternative to temper the iPhone hegemony.

This isn't much different than why we need Microsoft's Bing or Yahoo, or even Microhoo to keep pushing Google to innovate.

Malone's piece will read like classic FUD to Googlers and Google Fanboys; to others, such as statisticians who can point to the overwhelming numbers of iPhone's market penetration versus Android, it will be harsh reality.

To me, it's as entertaining as a teen slasher movie. Fun, but a little far-fetched in its zero-sum prognostication that Apple wins and Google loses. That's okay though. I'll still read anything Malone writes any day of the week.

Posted by Clint Boulton
on January 2, 2010 12:00 AM