‘First’

Mark Gurman, in a profile of Google’s new Pixel phones published just before Google’s event started today:

Google is embarking on a wholesale revamp of its mobile phone strategy, debuting a pair of slick and powerful handsets that for the first time will go head-to-head with Apple Inc.’s iconic iPhone.

The first clause is true: the Pixels do mark a “wholesale revamp” of Google’s mobile phone strategy. The second clause is nonsense: Google has been going head-to-head against the iPhone ever since the first Android phone debuted. You can’t say the Nexus phones don’t count just because they never succeeded.

Google then-VP of engineering Vic Gundotra devoted his 2010 I/O keynote to ripping into the iPhone and iPad, pedal to the metal on “open beats closed” and how an ecosystem of over 60 different Android devices (a drop in the pond compared to today) was winning, saving the world from a future where “one man, one company, one device” controls mobile. (Gundotra tossed in “one carrier”, which was true at the time, but looks foolish in hindsight.) He even compared the iPhone to Orwell’s 1984. Really.

The only thing Orwellian here is Google’s attempt to flush down the memory hole their previous attempts to go head-to-head against the iPhone. Watch the first 10 minutes of Gundotra’s 2010 keynote — the whole thing is about beating the iPhone.

(Gundotra went heavy on the Flash Player thing, too. It occurs to me that many executives who were willing to bet publicly on Flash Player for mobile circa 2010 are no longer around. A notable exception: Kevin Lynch.)

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

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