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Behind Google's FUD campaign against Apple

The company counts noses and on paper, at least, the numbers of potential Android customers outstrips the potential number of iPhone users. Or so Google argues.

Forgive my flippancy, but I'm trying hard not to bust into giggles after reading about Rich Miner's prediction that sales of Android-based devices will outstrip sales of the iPhone.

Know where this guy can score an iPhone? Dan Farber/CNET

"Once you have devices out there from Motorola, HTC, Samsung, and so on, there's a much larger potential market on Android than for the iPhone," he said during a conference held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. He later added, "There are things I saw people doing with the first version of the Android SDK that it seems like you can't do with the iPhone at least at the moment."

All of which may be true and yet totally beside the point.

Let's call Google on what this really is: Considering how there are currently ZERO Android devices in the market, Miner is engaging in (pardon the pun) major trash talking. Maybe Microsoft became such an easy target that Eric Schmidt decided it was the right time to pump up the volume at Apple's expense. I don't think Steve Jobs is sweating any. Down the corridor from me, my colleague Dan Farber recalled correctly that Apple's following the same playbook that's served it quite well in its other markets.

It's the same dilemma Apple has faced over the years. Should the Mac OS be licensed to any reasonably qualified manufacturer? Clearly, (Jobs) has proven that he can create a great PC business with 5 percent market share.

The first crop of phones resulting from Google's Open Handset Alliance aren't expected until the second half of the year. And yes, Android will not be tied to a specific device and thus the potential for monster sales exists--at least on paper.

But I understand why Google's drawing invidious comparisons with the iPhone. Apple may yet screw this up but there's powerful momentum behind the device. One week after announcing an iPhone software development kit, Apple's registered more than 100,000 downloads.

Android may offer the more open architecture, but Apple's decision to allow third-party developers to build applications is just the fillip the iPhone needs to win converts in the business world. So if you're Google, I suppose it comes down to a matter of "why not?" A little bit of FUD at this juncture doesn't come at a cost. But words alone won't turn Android into the success its creators envision.