As excitement around today’s launch of Google’s Nexus One phone reached heights matched only by the Burj Khalifa (sorry), one commentator came out with a really smart take on what this means for the big players in tech. Benchmark Capital VC Bill Gurley wrote this post, Android or iPhone? Wrong Question, in which he makes the persuasive case that asking the popular question of whether Google is looking to out-Apple Apple is missing the point.
“While Apple may have opened the proverbial Walled Garden, it is Google, with its aggressive Android offering, that aims to obliterate it,” he writes. Yes, Apple was the pioneer, but now Google is looking to focus on (and disrupt) an entirely different part of the market, “the other 3.95 billion cell phone users that are highly likely to consider Android a step up from their current feature phone.”
It’s a timely reminder that original innovators don’t always reap all the benefits of what they have sown. Sometimes that has a faintly tragic ring to it (when Xerox PARC was unable to capitalize on its own research, for instance.) But in this instance, Apple was the first to crack the pinata of the telcos (and is doing quite nicely, thank you). And now, with the Nexus One, Google is busy taking its own hefty thwack at the industry. The fallout of all of this will not be candies for all. Maybe even Apple will come to regret its closed, controlling approach to the business. And maybe the sugar high of Google’s exploits today will wear off to leave a bad taste. But for today at least, dispersed innovation looks pretty sweet.
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