It's not likely to greatly affect the future potential of Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) big move into the mobile market. But recent news of delays with products that use Google's new Android operating system has stirred investors nonetheless. The Wall Street Journal kicked off a debate over Google's competitiveness this week with an article citing the difficulty partners have had in bringing Android to market.
Android's big push to the mobile market was made in the lull between Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) first- and second-generation iPhones late last year. As opposed to building a phone itself, the company championed the Open Handset Alliance. This brought together companies across a broad swath of the global industry, including handset firms like Motorola (NYSE: MOT ) and HTC, technology developers Nuance (Nasdaq: NUAN ) and Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM ) , and carriers such as T-Mobile and China Mobile (NYSE: CHL ) .
Now some partners are conceding a less-than-torrid pace toward launching Android-based phones this year. While Google would have liked to see Android make a big splash this holiday season, many providers will be struggling to simply get a device on the shelf. For instance, Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S ) is dealing with a mountain of internal issues and has apparently pushed out its launch of an Android device until next year.
I'm sure Verizon Wireless isn't shedding any tears today. The mega-carrier butted heads with Google for months over open-network and device policies before going its own route and adopting Linux as a preferred software platform on its future mobile devices. But Verizon isn't bragging (yet, anyway) -- no earth-moving progress toward an open-application, open-device network has happened in the telco's neck of the woods, either.
For investors, the delay in getting Android to market -- if it can even be called a delay -- is a non-issue. Technology integration always seems to take longer than hoped, and Google and friends are better off getting open devices right than rushing them to market under iPhone-inspired hype. This is a very long race, and we're only in the trials stage. Besides, the big money is made in the stretch.
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