∞ Google's relationship issues

Following today’s entirely unsurprising revelation that Logitech lost $100 million, in part, because of its Google TV partnership, Google’s nature as a business partner has (rightly) come into question.

Techcrunch’s Jason Kincaid writes:

Now, Logitech was obviously overambitious when it came to launching the still-unproven product, but they aren’t the only manufacturer that was burned by Google’s overeager desire to ship software before it was ready. Motorola’s Xoom, which was released early this year as an iPad competitor, was one of the worst devices I’ve ever used at launch. That was partially because it was a little too bulky compared to the iPad, but it was primarily because Honeycomb — the tablet version of Android — was a buggy mess.

Kincaid makes an excellent point — hardware manufacturers are coming under fire for software that is largely out of their hands. Google’s primary partners have been putting out products using Google’s software, and virtually all reviews of said products highlight the same, buggy software problems. Accordingly, these products flop. While this is certainly not the only cause of failure, it is certainly a contributing factor, and it may prove costly for Google in the long run.

The response has already begun in the shape of the Kindle Fire and Nook Color. Both Amazon and B&N’s offerings have foregone messy ties with Google in favor of their own revamped flavor of Android, and have substituted Google’s ecosystem with their own.

For the Kindle Fire, at least, its deviation from Google’s vision has become one of its key selling points. Amazon has built a stable, capable operating system for the task at hand (or so impressions indicate), and they are attributing none of it to Google. A quick glance of the Fire’s product page reveals one reference to Android, and it comes merely as a portion of Amazon’s app store name, the “Amazon Appstore for Android.”

If the Kindle Fire finds mainstream success, I would not be surprised if other hardware manufacturers began to adopt a similar approach in future, and that could be extremely damaging for Google.

Although Google has steadily axed and revamped much of its product line in recent weeks, the uproar surrounding some of its decisions is difficult to ignore.

The next test for Google will be its just announced Music event — what will be its first post-Google+ attempt to introduce a new, working, integrated marketplace into its ecosystem. If done correctly, it may inspire some further confidence, but if it simply sinks into the background along with its ebook sibling, don’t be surprised if more questions arise.

Without shaking its “beta” reputation, and the apparent overeagerness to ship products, Google is likely facing a sincere examination of how exactly it deals with its partners and its products, and an ever-increasing amount of scrutiny and hesitance from its customers as well.

Matt Alexander is the owner and editor of ONE37.net, a writer, a technology enthusiast, and a contributing writer for The Loop.

Update: Clarified that the $100 million was not all attributed to LogiTech’s relationship with Google. 3:08 pm PT