Since you asked…
Similar to Zune, Google’s efforts with Android seemed really promising at the start. They took a different approach, attempting to be open from the start…and then went, what? six months without an update to the “public” source? That was just the first sign of trouble though, and the first indication that Google was not willing to do what it took to stand up to the carriers and stick by their original idea: an open phone OS.
Since then, we’ve seen time and again how Google has essentially just thrown this OS out there and the handset makers and service providers are free to do with it as they please… Want to never update the OS for your users? eh, Google doesn’t care. Want to provide a custom, potentially inferior, UI while still claiming the “Android” brand? bah, who cares about brand purity anyway, right?
Seriously, outside of the hacker community I don’t know of anyone who identifies their “Android” phone as an “Andriod” phone. In other words, Google seems to have done a giant favor to the handset makers by doing their job for them and demanding almost nothing in return, including nothing to improve the situation for Google’s customers. If I buy an HTC phone from Verizon running Android, who’s making sure I get what I want? and not just what happens to be most convenient and profitable for the companies involved?
When Apple went carrier shopping, they went to Verizon first. Verizon was the biggest. Verizon had the best network. But Verizon demanded their typical suite of extortions and lock-downs on the phone. Did Apple cave? Nope! GUTS! They said, “You know what? AT&T might not have the best network, but we see this as a platform. Trust us, the call quality might not be great, but we’re going to give you in a phone something no one has ever thought of giving you in a phone, and that’s going to change everything!”
Oh, and Google is no less schizophrenic of a company at the moment than Microsoft. Worse even! They seem to be frantically trying to find some way of earning money that doesn’t involve advertising, but at the same time they seem too timid to really put all their chips behind anything.
(edit: Oh, and yes…dropping “Computer” wasn’t huge, but I also didn’t mention the drastic change of processor architecture, the complete reinvention of their OS, cutting their product line down to 3 or 4 major SKUs…I could go on.)
“jballanc” on Hacker News. I think this comment gets closer to the heart of what makes the iPhone so great and Android so mediocre than a lot of the commentary online