Dirty Pool: Apple Trying To Steal Google's Android 3.0 Thunder

Apple leaks take edge off Google's Honeycomb showing tomorrow but, in the end, Honeycomb counts.

Gina Smith, Contributor

February 1, 2011

3 Min Read

New CEO Larry Page had better get used to this brand of dirty pool.

Looking at the techrags today, I noticed Apple is taking a page out of Microsoft’s yellowing 90s-era playbook with leaks regarding the next iPad -- the day before Google shows Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) at its huge press event at HQ.


On all the sites that typically would be doing a day-before analysis on tomorrow's Google media event, you see leaked Apple info instead. Way to take a bit off the sheen off an event that’s supposed to give media and industry insiders a serious look at the Android 3.0 OS.

It's vintage 20th century Microsoft. And hard to resist. Of course, tech reporters bite -- it's impossible not to – exclusives and leaks are sexy, especially when they’re about products like the iPad.

I used to hate it when Microsoft did this to me, back in the Pleistocene when I covered the operating systems beat.

Digital Research or Novell or IBM would have a next-day announcement and boom: I’d get a call from someone inside Microsoft leaking just enough juicy detail about a competing product to compel me to write that story, too.

I hated it -- I knew they were doing it and why they were doing it. But I didn’t have much choice. Readers want to know. I took the scoop. But always felt like I needed a shower after.

The point, after all, is to give readers stories they want. Microsoft doesn’t do this so much anymore. Now Apple’s started.

So what?

Though some of the coverage is successfully dispersed, it doesn’t change what the news will be tomorrow. Probably, Android 3.0 OS designer Matias Duarte will take the stage with new-again Google CEO Larry Page.

They'll demo live video conferencing, probably on a Motorola Xoom, perhaps on next gen tablets to come from Samsung and others. They'll show that the annoying home button/back button Android tabs have will now be on-screen in new tablets.

They'll show that, at long last, the OS is designed for tablets, so Samsung Galaxy users like me have a better, tablet-ready experience. One that is faster. Survives multiple touches. They’ll give BYTE's tablet beat reporter, Fritz Nelson, something to sink his teeth into.

Google reps have been saying for awhile that Android 3.0 will big its biggest, most significant update. (Does anyone remember the move from Windows 2.11 to 3.0 -- quickly followed by a bug fix?) Ideally, they’ll have a solid platform out the gate.

If you look at it from Apple's standpoint, the company is probably right to pull out Microsoft dirty tricks in diverting attention from this announcement. After owning this market, armies of tablets are rolling right at it. The smaller Galaxy Tab -- which will likely feature Android 3.0 in its new rendition come Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress show -- is starting to grow on me. Whether it becomes a major iPad competitor (not killer) in coming months is in Samsung's hands.

But giving tablet makers the tools to make better Android tablets is squarely on Google. More Samsung buyers return Galaxy Tabs than iPads for a lot of reasons, analysts say. I’m guessing the current Android 2.2 version of the OS, which can be buggy, clunky and slow, is the main one.

There was a time when no one thought you could compete with Microsoft. They are saying the same about Apple now, too. But this announcement tomorrow is going to be the opening shot in one of the most fascinating industry battles ever, and I’ve seen a few. This'll be fierce.

InformationWeek and BYTE.com will be at Google's announcement tomorrow -- Tom Claburn, Fritz Nelson and I will be tweeting, shooting and writing. Watch this space. For InformationWeek, TechWeb and the upcoming BYTE.com, I'm Gina Smith.

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