Google Should Build Better Products – Not Call Apple Names

Some weeks, truth is stranger than fiction. As I was thinking that nothing strange would happen this week, up pops a new Google hire, Tim Bray, and he starts trash-talking Apple.

Let’s see — Google is under investigation by the FTC, stock is down 10 percent, Wave and Buzz are crap, and it is getting its butt kicked out of China. And its new advocate’s strategy is to call the most successful company in tech run by the CEO of the year evil?Yep that’ll work… I’ll focus on that this time.

I’ll close with my product of the week: an impressive little digital camera from Sony, the DSC-W350, which just came out and is frankly one of the most amazing cameras I’ve ever purchased.

Evil Is as Evil Does

Evil is one of those topics that is fun to discuss, because what is evil really depends on which side of a topic you are on. For instance, if we were talking about capital punishment, it could lead to some really interesting comments — like the one I heard years ago in California suggesting that folks who supported the death penalty should be put to death. Topics like this give you those “say, huh, what?” moments that would cause our heads to spin like tops if they worked that way.

The thing about evil is that it is an opinion on someone or something by a third party every time.Folks don’t call themselves “evil,” except in jest, and while they may accept they once did an evil thing, they will rarely ever do anything they see as evil.

All of us, sometime during our lives, will do something that someone else will classify as “evil.” Some of us may look back and agree, while most of us likely will disagree rather profoundly — but the point here is that the term “evil” isn’t something we can avoid.

Interestingly enough, Bray himself writes that Google is too big to be purely good and that stupidity and evil are finding interstitial breeding grounds inside the company. Google can now pretty much trash that “Do No Evil” mantra they started with, huh?

Is Disney Evil?

Even asking that question as I write this column a few feet from Disney World gives me chills, as if Walt Disney were about to walk through the door and kick my sorry ass down Main Street. However, that is core to Bray’s argument about Apple, when he calls Apple “Disney-fied” in the way it assures the customer experience by controlling applications and access.

As an ex-Disney employee myself, I agree that Disney goes to great lengths to protect it guests. There are few places to buy alcohol in the park, fewer to smoke, and certain aggressive behavior is forbidden.You aren’t allowed to make political, religious, or racial statements in the park; nudity in any form is forbidden; and if you do anymore than kiss your significant other, the Mouse’s boot will find its way to your backside as you exit the park with a tart “have a nice day, don’t come back” following you out the gate. There are even special codes for when women show up without essential items. I know this because whenever those codes were announced, we would run to security from all parts of the park to help. Hey, I was a young guy — what do you want?

It is largely because of this behavior that kids are generally safe in the park, even away from their parents — unless they get in the way of employees rushing to security — and that guests’ experiences tend to be consistently good.At least it is on days when the park isn’t packed body to body and the heat is below the mid 80s.

Bray is right that this behavior limits freedom, but for those who go to the park — and those who love their iPhones — it would appear that some limitations are a reasonable sacrifice in order to have a great experience.

Name-Calling Doesn’t Work

Tim Bray is an ex-Sun employee. You may recall that Scott McNealy was best known as the guy who consistently called Microsoft names (they have been painstakingly collected here). This didn’t work so well for Sun, which was recently sold in what appeared to be a fire sale — Oracle now is going back and renegotiating most of the contracts. That has a lot of Sun customers upset, based on what I’ve been hearing at the ITBE Midmarket Forum this week.

The point, however, is that calling a more successful company names in order to get folks to move over to your offerings, to my knowledge, doesn’t work. People follow the money, and whether it is Microsoft or Apple, the way to get developers on your platform is to sell a lot of product and help them make a lot of money.

Right now, folks who develop apps for Apple seem to be making a good return. While it isn’t a perfect process, it is unlikely they will change platforms to Android just because some ex-Sun Google evangelist calls Apple “evil.”

Rather than ranting at the world about Apple’s shortcomings, it might be wiser to focus on reconciling the Chrome OS with Android so that developers and OEMs can better focus on one of them. You see, it won’t really matter if Apple is evil or not if Google’s alternatives are in the process of stupidly killing each other off.

Wrapping Up

I swear, watching Google this decade is increasingly like watching reruns of mistakes that Microsoft, IBM, Sun and others have made over the last 30 years. The company’s image is declining, its stock price is down, and it is in the process of getting kicked out of a major country for behaving illegally.

Granted, this last is kind of new, but I don’t see it as a good thing. Rather than calling Apple “evil,” it should get its own act together and build great products.

Bray and Google could learn a little from Disney as well — and that is that putting a little magic and a lot of quality into the process can go a lot farther to create a successful company and product set then just giving crap away for free.

Product of the Week: Sony DSC-W350

Product of the WeekLast week, I was traveling in Orlando for the ITBE Midmarket CIO forum, where I spoke on Windows 7 Deployment best practices, and in Costa Rica for a little vacation, and I forgot to bring a camera.

As it turned out, the Sony Cybershot DSC-W350 had just came out, and for about US$200 this 14.1 megapixel tiny beauty looked like a steal.

Sony Cybershot DSC-W350

Sony Cybershot DSC-W350
(click image to enlarge)

It will take panoramic shots, record HD (720p) video and has built-in image stabilization. It auto adjusts for backlight, fires the flash for fill, and has 8 automatic modes — including one where it takes two rapid shots using different settings so you can pick the better shot later.It has a smile detector; no kidding, a smile detector — leave it up to Sony.

It has nice Carl Zeiss 28mm wide angle to 4x optical zoom lens.It has a 2.7-inch screen, which takes up most of the back of this tiny and ultra light camera, and it fits in a small phone case, so I could carry it on my belt.

I’m still working out the impressive list of features, but it has been a long time since I’ve been this excited about a digital camera, so the Sony DSC-W350 is my product of the week.

Rob Enderle is a TechNewsWorld columnist and the principal analyst for the Enderle Group, a consultancy that focuses on personal technology products and trends.

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