Has to go to the folks behind Google Android.
A couple of months ago when my Nokia N95 suddenly turned into a brick the inestimable James Whatley aka whatleydude was kind enough to loan me an HTC Magic running the new mobile OS from Google. I played with the device for about five minutes before proclaiming: For now, Nokia, you’re dead to me.
A couple of Christmases ago Stephen O’Grady had a similar experience with the iPhone, but I was never quite ready to join Apple’s Permission-based Web.
The Magic though, has changed my living and working practices for the better. Its as simple as that. Its not as good a phone or digital camera as I am used to, but its aeons ahead as a web friendly device. Series 60 is hobbled for the web. This year the hobble turned into a wobble, and now Nokia is finally acknowledging that Symbian is a problem.
To my mind it wasn’t the iPhone that really brought home the problem to Nokia, it was Android. The thought of all those Asian manufacturers bringing Android devices to a European market with a ready made business model through the carriers should concentrate the mind.
That’s the thing – so far at least Android isn’t a phone, its an ecosystem.
Which brings me to 2010 and a big question mark. Is Google about to kill the golden goose? Releasing its own Android phone onto the general market, as rumours clearly indicate, is not exactly a great way to instill confidence in partners. The temptation internally to favor the Nexus in APIs and so on is going to be too hard to resist. Android has has a few knocks already for its kinda, sorta open source approach, and I expect the volume of criticism to grow pretty significantly.Google seems to think it needs to own the entire stack to have a truly great user experience, but isn’t it possible hardware competition would have delivered just that?
Funnily enough, for example, I prefer the HTC Magic to the Droid. It may be underpowered compared to the black monolith Verizon is selling, but it has better hand feel as far as I am concerned.
Android as a trojan horse for Google’s apps ambitions makes perfect sense. Part of what makes the Android experience so great for me at least, is that I use Google Apps. All the syncing is done in the background for me. As a Google client it “just works” – beautifully.
But Google is entering the hardware business now. I suspect competitors are breathing a sigh of relief. Except Apple perhaps -we can surely expect an Android “Slate killer” tablet sooner rather than later. But where does it all end? Will Google sell its own car navigation hardware? What about ChromeOS netbooks?
I am looking forward to seeing if my team of 2009 can prove me wrong in 2010 by keeping the ecosystem happy and growing as it competes with hardware makers.
This year the winner just screamed out at me, when I started considering it, so no runner up. Last year I chose a team that I know personally, the IBM Eight Bar crew from Hursley Labs. This year I chose a team I can’t name a single member of, but they had a notable impact on me, and more importantly, an entire industry or two.