Trying to Unring a Bell

Featured Opinion Trying to Unring a Bell

There’s a rather big stink right now concerning an interview we conducted with Mr. Orion a few weeks ago. Here’s a quick recap of what happened for any of you who hasn’t seen the backlash. We did an article here on AndroidGuys around a month back and Jake left a comment with something to the effect of “Hey, here’s who I am and what I do. If you ever want to speak with me and get some Sprint info, you have my email address.” I took him to task and immediately emailed him and asked whether or not he would be interested in doing a Q&A with us. We were curious to see what was going on in the Sprint side of the world in regards to Android. Unfortunately, we’re only a few months away from Android’s release and we know very little about what the Open Handset Alliance carriers will be doing.

I asked Jake whether or not he’d prefer an email interview as opposed to a Skype or phone call interview. My findings are that historically people prefer that way so that they have more time to think things through and can put together their answers more cohesively. Believe it or not, he opted for email. Those answers were checked and edited before we published. I’m not going to quote any of the article here as I told him that I will not be using any of his answers on the site. I have no doubts that Jake is very enthusiastic about Android and its potential. After speaking with him a few times, I can share that he loves the platform and he “truly believe(s) we have something special here. ” Maybe it’s because I know his intentions a little bit more than others, but I didn’t read his answers to be overly critical. Looking back now, I can see where a lot of people would though.

So what happened? I believe it’s a combination of things. Do I think he was the wrong guy to be talking about it. Yes and no. Every company the size of Sprint has a PR department for handling discussions and talking points. Jake is nowhere near that segment as his focus is on actually creating the devices, not talking about them. On the other hand, who better to talk about the platform than the team working directly on it?

Would Sprint have given us some more “safe” answers if we were able to speak wwith a PR guy? Of course, but that’s what everybody does. When you have 34 companies all working together towards a common goal, they have to make sure not to anger one another. You have to talk nice about your new friends. Everything gets spun so much, it’s hard to get down to the truth.

I don’t think Jake meant to come across like Android won’t end up living up to the hype. He has to make sure as to not to lean too far in one direction as he’d risk angering the BlackBerry and Windows Mobile part of Sprint. How bad would it be if he came out and said, “Yeah! This is going to kill WinMo!” He tried to walk the thin line, but ended up stepping off in both directions. Sadly, when stepping off in one, that’s when the Android watchers are ready to swoop in.

I wonder who put the squeeze on who in this situation. I could picture two different scenarios. In one, someone within Sprint walks into Jake’s office and says, “Hey man, we have people here who get paid to talk about our stuff. You, on the other hand, work on our stuff. Leave the talking to us.” In the other scenario, I could see someone from a Google office picking up a phone and dialing Sprint, telling the other end “Someone wanna shut that guy up? He’s ruining a big thing of ours.”

Google is going to blow the doors off of the industry and turn carriers into dumb pipes for delivering data. Maybe Sprint saw what Apple did to AT&T and is somewhat hesitant. I have to believe that even the carriers involved in the OHA aren’t ready for the next wave. Let’s assume that Android is so open that Sprint could brand the device around their services, with links, shortcuts, buttons and more to access their television and location-based services. That same openness could allow for a customer to uninstall their apps and put in programs that link to less expensive, or free, offerings. Would you want to pay for 411 calls when you can push a button for GOOG-411 instead? Would you rather use the free Google Talk application or pay for text messaging from your carrier?

I have to believe that there are some insiders who know more about the platform than we’re being told. I, as well as the other AndroidGuys members, are trying to be as objective as possible about things. We feel our readers deserve to know things whether good or bad. I’d like to offer Jake, Sprint, or any other member in the Open Handset Alliance the opportunity to speak out. I can personally guarantee your confidentiality, if that’s a concern. If someone out there knows more to this story, please let me know.