Will Google’s "Me Too" Effort Destroy Phone Usability

This morning I was asked what I thought about a not so surprising announcement by Google around their push into the mobile phone space. My initial comment was that I couldn’t care less what Google does in the mobile space but in hindsight that is a little naive, especially if you take into consideration their already massive user base for their existing products and services.

I’ll pick up on just one line that just reinforces my opinion:

“Mobile users want the same applications on the phone as they use on the internet.”

This is rubbish.  IMHO consumers hate the web – they use it because there isn’t a better alternative.  If you could get the same content using a rich application that doesn’t have the request-response penalty then the web would disappear overnight . The reality is that with so many competitors out there we are stuck with the lower common denominator.  With Google entering the mobile space all we will see is more rubbish (eg Google Ad words) being available on the device. 

How often do I browse the web on my device? – never!

How many MB do I download a month on my device? – around 500Mb at the moment!

Why do I download this much? – a combination of email, maps and rss (virtually no browsing cause it is just painful)!

I think that if Google is going to try to steal the mobile phone market they are underestimating the complexities of the market. Consumers are fickle and will have higher expectations and lower pain tolerance than on the desktop where they are used to having to wait.

Returning to my original point, if Google does enter this market then the existing players will just play defensive, which will imho stifle innovation rather than encourage it. Just take a look at the Windows Mobile or Blackberry platforms of recent years – has the innovation increased since Apple decided to play in this space?

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