Monday, Dec 14, 2009
One thing that Google and Apple have in common is that, more than most technology companies, they don't announce things until they're ready for people to see and touch (and in applicable cases, buy). Sure, there are exceptions to this rule; the iPhone was pre-announced by six months, but by and large both companies try to publicize their products and services more than hawk their strategic visions and timelines. Despite this unusually forthright product communications strategy, both companies have at times been called out for vaporware when there's a specific need to announce a planned product months ahead of time, in order to get developer involvement in place in time for product release. With this in mind, I found it amusing that with the probable imminent release of the Googlephone, Google has managed to achieve the opposite of vaporware: having a finished, demonstrable product in a lot of people's hands while not announcing it and even trying to downplay its existence as much as possible at the same time as there are tens of thousands of them 'in the wild'. Sure, lots of companies have prerelease hardware in the pockets or messenger bags of their employees for field-testing, but these people are under strict orders not to be seen with the device or to let on that it even exists. I can't recall any product in history that has had so much anticipatory digital ink spilled in its name, yet is released into the wild in numbers far beyond the few dozen guarded units that might normally be expected, without any sort of formal corporate cheerleading or chest pounding, only a reluctant post on a corporate sub-blog admitting that yeah, employees got some stuff that might be related to some stuff that other people might some day be able to get. It's corporate-speak for "It ain't no thang" and it's the kind of casual tone that draws such a contrast with the typical cockiness of Microsoft or the supreme confidence of Apple. So yeah, there'll probably be a Google phone out next month, but not because Google promised it. This is a fresh dose of reality preceding the corporate hype.
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