In an NYT piece about GoogleTV this week, Ashley Vance illustrates one of the major difficulties of totally open systems – in their raw form, they are horribly unpredictable and therefore very difficult to build a business on. As Google moves into the device space, they have caused quite a bit of heartburn with their partners: delays in ChromeOS caused laptop manufacturers to miss this holiday season; delays with Android have caused major headaches with phone launch delays, tablet launch delays and phone upgrade issues; and now Google has asked major TV manufacturers to cancel their plans for GoogleTV roll-outs at the Consumer Electronics show in a few weeks.
Don’t get me wrong – open software projects are awesome, but experienced software people are fond of the saying “real engineers ship” for a reason. In the enterprise space you see hybrid models being adopted for working with open projects – manufacturers will certify, ship and offer support only for certain reference versions.
Google’s ready, fire, aim approach has worked very well and driven very rapid innovation for its cloud-based the software, and an incredibly fast ramp for Android, but as they begin to mate their software more closely with hardware, something’s gotta to give.