Android is the amazing alternative to Apple's iPhone, dominating world market share and providing an open and stable platform for the creation of hundreds of thousands of apps.
So why do I think Chromebooks or Chromebook-like cloud devices are the future of Google phones? To understand this, you first have to understand Google.
The Three Worlds, According to Google
Google views computing as being divided into three worlds:
1. The Smart Internet
The Smart Internet is the Google world -- a world in which algorithms and artificial intelligence enhance and augment human life while people are connected online.
Search is the original example of online intelligence for Google. Instead of finding things in Yahoo's directory -- basically the library model of giving you everything in a card catalog -- Google came out with a search engine that used algorithms to rank search results in a way that helps you find what you're looking for.
The ultimate expression of the Smart Internet is Google Now, the intelligent personal assistant that learns your preferences and gives you answers to questions even before you ask them.
2. The Dumb Internet
The Dumb Internet is one alternative to the Smart Internet. The Dumb Internet is the part of the online world where algorithms and artificial intelligence play no roll. The Internet is just a series of tubes delivering messages or information to users.
Google Reader is an example of the dumb Internet, and Google killed it because it's an alternative to Google's vision of the Smart Internet. As a Dumb Internet application, Google Reader is not only something that falls outside Google's area of interest and specialization, it's an alternative to Google's vision of intelligent, computer-assisted content discovery and consumption.
3. The Non-Internet
The other alternative to the Smart Internet is the offline world. The regular version of, say, Microsoft Office is an example of the offline world -- an app that runs on your desktop whether you're connected or not.
Understanding Google's three-part vision of the world helps you understand why Google does what it does -- and also what it will do in the future.
Why Chromebooks are more Googly than Android
Google recently announced that Android chief Andy Rubin would no longer run the group, and that Chrome head Sundar Pichai would take over Android in addition to his day job of running all things Chrome.
This sounds a lot like the fledgling ChromeOS is being treated as more important to Google than the mighty world-conquering Android platform. And I think that's exactly what's happening.
Google co-founders CEO Larry Page and special projects director Sergey Brin have said three odd things about Android in the past few years.
1. "I believe Android was very important for Google. I wouldn't say it was critical," Page said while being cross examined by a lawyer during a patent lawsuit with Oracle in April of 2012. In several statements associated with the Android-isn't-critical comment, Page made it clear that Android is important only to the extent that it delivers Google's cloud-based, Smart Internet services.
2. "Android and Chrome will likely converge over time," Brin told reporters in 2009.
Brin said this more than three years ago -- but it demonstrates that even then Brin's vision for phones involved Chrome-like functionality.
3. "I feel it’s kind of emasculating. You’re just rubbing this featureless piece of glass," Brin said of smartphones in a recent TEDtalk.
Everybody jumped on the word "emasculating," and online commentators seized on the gender politics aspect of the word.
To me, the more telling and important word in this quote is "featureless." A smartphone is featureless? What did he mean by that? A typical smartphone is absolutely packed with features.
But not from the Google perspective. Brin's point was that, compared with Google Glass, smartphones are shackled by the Dumb Internet and Non-Internet worlds.
Google Glass, on the other hand, is the purest vision yet of the Smart Internet because instead of focusing on the abstract world of virtual things on a screen, you focus on the real world, and the real world is made part of the Smart Internet because you're plugged into Google's algorithms via Google Glass.
While you’re wearing Google Glass, there is no Dumb Internet and there is no Non-Internet. There is only Google's Smart Internet.
These "surprising" quotes really aren't surprising at all when you use my three-world model to understand how Google thinks.