Way too much hay has been made over Google and Samsung's decision to postpone Tuesday's Nexus/Ice Cream Sandwich event at CTIA in San Diego. It's disappointing, to be sure -- especially to those of us who were going to be there. Samsung and Google events, separately, are something to experience. Put them together, and, well, we can only imagine. But it's also disappointing for everyone else, as the event was to be streamed live, for everyone to see it, and not just those lucky enough to be in the room. That's very openy of Google, ain't it?
It didn't help that the postponement message appeared to be somewhat bungled, with word apparently first trickling out from Samsung UK (which being hours ahead in Europe was actually awake), while the U.S. arm was the one that had sent the invitations in the first place, so presumably it would be the one to give us the bad news after breakfast. (And, in the end, it did.) That's inside baseball, though, and shouldn't really matter. When two major companies are coordinating something like this, stuff happens.
And it didn't help that barely hours before, another major Ice Cream Sandwich/Nexus leak hit with video and screen shots of the new phone and new device. First thing many of us saw after waking Friday was a shiny new phone and version of Android. It's Christmas in October, right?
But then we get official word, and the conspiracy theories began. Ice Cream Sandwich isn't ready. The hardware isn't ready. The event presentation isn't ready. Apple filed another pre-emptive lawsuit. Plausible theories, all (especially the latter, we suppose). A statement was later released, saying "We believe this is not the right time to announce a new product as the world expresses tribute to Steve Jobs's passing."
We should all respect that.
We tend to think of these phones as ours. Our phones, our platforms, our ecosystems. We take them personally. We fight for them. That's not a bad thing. We should care, and maybe even be a little overzealous. But something most of us outside of the companies involved need to remember is that we see the end product -- we don't truly understand the blood, sweat and tears, days and weeks and months and years that go into building these phones. The developers. The engineers. The debuggers. The managers. The PR folks. The countless wives and husbands and children. Trust me, they take these things personally, too. They fight for them. They care. And maybe they're even a little overzealous. That's how they should be.
I don't pretend to "know" Google any more than I pretend to "know" Apple. But I do know they're companies made of people. I was lucky enough to spend a few hours in Mountain View earlier this year, and one thing that stood out was just the overall vibe of happiness of the people mulling around, eating lunch, going from building to building and generously tolerating a bunch of nosy journalists in their way for the morning. It's palpable. But another thing I'm pretty sure of is that for all the secrecy and competition, it's also a fairly tight-knit community. Friends. Family. Respected competitors. (Remember that Eric Schmidt was once on Apple's board.)
This week, they -- and to a different extent those of us in the general public -- all lost someone whose effect on our lives, both personal and technological, likely will be measured not in product cycles or releases, but in the way our children and grandchildren live their lives.
Point is this: We want the next Nexus phone. We want Ice Cream Sandwich. And soon enough, we'll have them both. And they'll be spectacular. And they'll be replaced by something else in another year and we'll go though the process again.
If the men and women of Google and Samsung and any other tech industry more directly affected by Apple and Steve Jobs want a little time next week to reflect, regroup and take a breath, let them. They deserve it.