Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Maybe Googlers Eat Their Own Dog Food, but Will It Be Tasty to Anyone Else?

Please see this disclosure related to me and Google.


Leave it to Google to compare its most aggressive new product to date with one that often includes meat by-products, bone meal, brewer’s rice, corn syrup and–yum!–“dried animal digest.”

But that’s exactly how the Silicon Valley search giant chose to describe its new Nexus One smartphone in a blog post Saturday.

As in eat its own product! Get it?

Titled: “An Android dogfood diet for the holidays,” the post reads, in part:

At Google, we are constantly experimenting with new products and technologies, and often ask employees to test these products for quick feedback and suggestions for improvements in a process we call dogfooding (from “eating your own dogfood”). Well, this holiday season, we are taking dogfooding to a new level.

We recently came up with the concept of a mobile lab, which is a device that combines innovative hardware from a partner with software that runs on Android to experiment with new mobile features and capabilities, and we shared this device with Google employees across the globe.

While Google (GOOG) did not cite the phone by name in its online missive, a number of sources told BoomTown that the sleek-looking, brown-gray touchscreen device was given to employees at the company’s weekly all-hands meeting Friday afternoon at the Googleplex HQ in Mountain View, Calif., and across the world, ensconced in a white box with the name right on the top.

While the bajillions of Google employees given their early holiday gift were told not to tweet about it or share any information, that’s precisely what they soon did, declaring it delicious.

The Twitter feed, so to speak, that ensued quickly got noticed by the blogosphere–first on Friday night by TechCrunch, which also first wrote about the “Google Phone” last month. (The Wall Street Journal followed up with the name of the phone and other details on Saturday.)

And that is exactly what Google execs meant to happen, of course, by slowly unleashing the Nexus One on the public.

Why? Well, so as to test the waters, presumably, after finding a somewhat tepid reception, so far, from big wireless carriers that might provide service for it.


Google has, of course, talked to them all, because its plan to market the phone depends on cooperation and not disputation with the big telcos.

So far, no one but T-Mobile–the U.S. subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom (DT) that already sells four phones using Google’s Android operating system software–has taken the kibble to be part of a new way of selling mobile devices that the search joint will be trying, according to MediaMemo.

As Peter Kafka wrote:

“But, for sure, Google doesn’t intend to sell its new ‘Nexus One’ phone the typical way, sources familiar with the company’s plans say. Instead, it envisions a scenario where customers who buy the handset on a separate Web site are provided with a list of carriers from which they can make a selection menu-style.”

Google needs cooperation here, because most phones are sold “locked,” which means they work only on the carriers you buy them from. (Sort of like making you join a forced march, but with dropped calls.)

Thus, Google is also trying to create a phone so tasty that consumers demand that wireless networks provide it to them, unlocked and with competitive bidding for service.

That prospect is probably not so yummy to the telcos, because they still mostly operate like Soviet ministries, except they’re not nearly as flexible.

The question is: If Google is successful in forcing the wireless giants from their practice of handing over whatever thin gruel they choose to dish up to consumers, will it result in better phones for all?

Or will Google’s experiment be just that and result in another innovative but failed attempt to change the woeful cell system in the U.S., ending up as another Android phone that still lags behind the Apple (AAPL) iPhone?

We’ll all soon see, but not yet, according to Google, which also coined the disturbing term, “dogfooding,” in its hey-everyone-look-at-me-but-don’t-see blog post.

“Unfortunately, because dogfooding is a process exclusively for Google employees, we cannot share specific product details. We hope to share more after our dogfood diet.”

My dog, Cosmo, is waiting expectantly by his empty bowl.

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I’m a giant vat of creative juices.

— David Pogue on why he’s joining Yahoo