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The Logic Behind the U-Turn

When questioned about this comment on unveiling the Nexus S Schmidt coyly suggested he had only indicted there would be no 'Nexus Two', not an 'S'.

He had also been similarly dismissive of a Chrome OS netbook:

"We've talked about it. We have a reference spec for Chrome OS, we have a couple of hardware partners all lined up and the open source is all out there. It's on schedule and it will happen later this year. Let's see how well those partners do first. My guess is we won't need to. The PC industry is different from the phone industry. The PC industry is used to working with Microsoft, whereas the mobile industry was not used to working with software."

Do we believe him? Not anymore. Do we understand the U-turn? Entirely, and it all comes from a single sentence: "The idea a year and a half ago was to do the Nexus One to try to move the phone platform hardware business forward."

With Android Google stepped in to move smartphone software forward in the wake of iOS. With the Nexus One Google stepped in to move mobile phone hardware forward. Android wasn't there to cede its ground to third party platforms, so why - when you think you can move hardware forward - would you do exactly that? As he mentions regarding Chrome OS hardware: "Let's see how well those partners do first" - there's a lack of confidence out there and given Apple's ability to singlehandedly dominate hardware design for so long, I don't blame him.

Naturally there is a significant caveat: Google doesn't have the resources to make hardware. Then again neither do most hardware giants. Behind every Hewlett Packard, Acer or Apple is an Inventec or Foxconn. These days you don't need a huge construction plant, you just need ideas - and Google has clearly plenty of those.

Can Google become a major player in the hardware sector? Probably not on the scale of a Samsung or Dell, but it could adopt a similar, premium role to that of Apple and it has the brand recognition to pull it off. Six months is a long time in technology and it appears in that time Google got sick of showing other companies how to do it and is now ready to do it itself...

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