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Android Anticipation, or Anxiety?

In the movies, you can't always tell if a new robot will be on your side. Will it be a loyal sidekick like R2-D2, a soulless killer like HAL 9000 or something in between--say, Futurama's cranky, alcoholic Bender?

Google's Android, a new phone operating system, might pose the same question. Google hopes to reinvent both cell phones and the entire cell phone industry with this software, but Google's titanic role in the Web-advertising business causes some people to view a venture as sweeping as Android with suspicion.

As I wrote in today's column, I'm on the optimistic side. I think Android could be what I initially thought Apple's iPhone might be--a product that slaps some sense into the cell-phone market by catering to the wishes of phone users, not wireless carriers.

That would be a welcome break from the broken market we have today, in which phone manufacturers must design for their real customers--not you or I, but the wireless carriers who will then turn around and sell devices to their subscribers. (The same problem prevails in the cable business, where companies like Cisco's Scientific-Atlanta subsidiary design cable tuners and digital video recorders to match the wish lists of cable operators such as Comcast, Cox and Time Warner.)

But I realize that not everybody shares this optimism. Listen, for instance, to the questions I received from listeners and host Tom Ashbrook on NPR's On Point show yesterday. We talk about these issues a little more on today's podcast (MP3).

What's your reaction to Google's project? What do you hope this Android software will do? What are you afraid it will?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  November 8, 2007; 8:04 AM ET
Categories:  Gadgets  
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I trust them. I don't see Google spiting their users. They've tended to fight for our rights and privacy, specifically Federal requests that were denied until properly subpoena'd. A luxury AT&T, and other carriers, did not afford its customers...

That said, let's hope they don't make me a liar.

Posted by: JC | November 8, 2007 6:37 PM | Report abuse

My reaction to Google Android is that its ultimate goal is to harvest personal information for Google's Advertising Database. No thanks!

Posted by: JohnJ | November 8, 2007 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Google's a good company, and bringing open systems to cell phones is a good idea. They might be big enough to finally do it. A similar thing happened in the computer industry when the PC was introduced. Anyone who understands the old IBM proprietary systems and how they gave IBM a market stranglehold can see the same thing with the current cell phones. Opens it us to innovation.

Posted by: JM | November 9, 2007 8:37 AM | Report abuse

A frequent user of Google and blogs on blogspot and a cell phone, I wish for a better cellphone w/o the dependence on anyone carrier for features I would use. I think the cell phone industry is in dire need to be turned on its ear!

Posted by: neil holbrook | November 9, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Let's not forget the second part of the IBM story. Microsoft was launched to the top after it provided a universal OS for IBM. Now even the strongest companies (even with better software) can't get any market share and hence, most of the computing community is ten years behind. Example: Windows Vista vs. OS X Leopard.

I support this move by Google, but it I also don't want Google to monopolize the phone OS just as Microsoft did with Windows.

Posted by: Parker | November 10, 2007 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Why are people getting excited about something that's not available yet?

Posted by: inyt | November 11, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

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