The Macalope Daily: Screwing up the whole widget

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If the rumors, speculation, wild guessing, and idle conjecture are true (and when are they not?!), both Google and Microsoft are looking to do things the Apple way, by “making the whole widget.” This raises the obvious question: “Can these two monolithic software giants make nice hardware?” Sure! Heck, given enough time and dumb luck, 10,000 monkeys could put together a nice cell phone experience, right? Of course, that doesn’t mean we’ll live long enough to see it happen.

Microsoft might be looking to get into the cell-phone hardware business the old fashioned way: by buying its way in. Specifically, by acquiring Nokia’s smartphone division. Ahhh, that’s the ticket. Because the company’s acquisition of Danger worked out so well.

Say, where is the Danger brain trust these days? Why, funny you should rhetorically ask yourself that, Macalope! (It’s almost like the rhetorical Macalope knew the answer would be interesting or ironic…)

Just last week Seth Weintraub noticed that Google—having previously acquired one (1) Andy Rubin, mint in box—now had a complete set of the ex-Danger founders. Which is quite a catch, because they’re worth more as a set if you ever want to resell them.

Matt Hershenson and Joe Britt, two legendary figures in mobile phone development, have suddenly resurfaced as part of the team building Android. Their hiring signals a big change at Google, showing that the company is getting just as serious about the hardware of phones—and this goes well beyond flip vs. candybar—as it is the software.

Going against the advice of appraisers to keep them in plastic on a shelf someplace dry, Google is putting the former team to work on Android hardware.

They tell me they spend their days building things that will turn into reference designs for Android peripherals. Android Hardware is exploring everything from home automation to exercise gaming and robotics. While there are no immediate plans to build Google-branded Android hardware accessories, Britt indicated that he would love to see Google introduce some of its own Android peripherals in the long term.

Well, the Macalope’s always believed you should play with your toys, not enshrine them. (Except for his Boba Fett, of course. You have to protect an investment like that.)

Despite the Nexus experience (which sounds like an unremarkable synth pop band, but is actually an unremarkable cell phone), the Macalope gives Google’s effort more of a chance than Microsoft’s to accomplish anything, because… well, right now, the size of Microsoft’s clown shoes should not be underestimated. Plus, the Danger guys were smart enough to bail on Microsoft. That’s gotta say something about their relative intelligence.

But, if Microsoft does buy Nokia’s smartphone business, it won’t come across as the bold move it had hoped for. It’ll come across as a desperate cry for help.

God, the Macalope hopes it happens.

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