TechCrunch crucified over Google phone rumor

Posted by Aharon Etengoff

A number of journalists have harshly criticized TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington for publishing a wildly speculative article about a rumored Android-based Google phone.

"It's no longer a myth, it's real," claimed Arrington. "The next 'super' Android device will almost certainly be a HTC phone that's much thinner than even the Droid or iPhone – The Dragon/Passion. This is the phone the senior Android guys at Google are now carrying around and testing, at least as of a couple of weeks ago."

Arrington - who quoted anonymous industry sources - also insisted that the device would be produced by a "major phone manufacturer" with Google branding. ??

TechCrunch crucified over Google phone rumor

Others, however, vehemently disagreed with his assessment.

"[Michael Arrington] is our industry's favorite enfant terrible. He can say and do virtually anything he wants. If he wants to abolish embargoes between companies and journalists, he'll simply say and do so," opined PC Magazine's Lance Ulanoff. "If he wants to write based on rumor and not call it that, he can do it. If he wants to make logical and illogical leaps in his articles, he can do that, too. The point is there are no rules for Arrington."

PC World columnist JR Raphael concurred.

"Michael Arrington's editorial judgment in regard to reporting rumors has come under question on more  than  a few  other  occasions. And, in our current instance, Google itself has flat-out denied what he's suggesting," stated Raphael. "The company described the notion of the Google Phone as little more than 'market rumor' when the concept first re-entered the news cycle several weeks ago. And, not long after, Andy Rubin - Google's vice president of engineering for Android - went on the record as directly saying the company was 'not making hardware.'"

As expected, Arrington attempted to rebuff his critics by noting that companies often denied the existence of products until their official release. 

?"Apple scoffed at the notion that they'd ever build a phone until they announced the iPhone, for example. The last thing Google wants is a lot of confusion among handset manufacturers just when those manufacturers are putting the finishing touches on their own Android phones."

He added that the alleged phone may function as a "data only" VoIP driven device.

"Users could still make calls just like a normal phone, of course. The calls would just be over the data service instead. In fact, this is the exact vision Google proposed back in 2007 when they were bidding on the FCC auctions for the 700MHz spectrum."

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