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9/23/2008
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How Does T-Mobile's Google G1 Stack Up?

We review several features available in the first Android-powered handset that could make it a hit in the enterprise and viable alternative to the BlackBerry or iPhone.




Android Market is an open content distribution system for finding, purchasing, downloading, and installing content on Android-powered devices.
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Mobile professionals hoping to get the G1 for business may be disappointed, as it appears the handset will be aimed at the mass market. The G1 won't have Microsoft Exchange support built in, and there won't be a desktop syncing client from T-Mobile or Google.

"This device will have mass appeal and something for everybody," said Cole Brodman, chief technology and innovation officer at T-Mobile USA during the debut press conference. "We expect it to be more for the consumer, not necessarily for enterprises."

Brodman did add that he expects some mobile workers to use the device anyway, and the G1 will be able to view Word documents, PDFs, and Excel documents. Additionally, the G1 will have push Gmail, and IMAP and POP3 e-mail support, and executives said the Exchange support could be quickly remedied by a third-party application.

For now, it appears that enterprise users who need their corporate e-mails and contacts would best to stick with a BlackBerry, Windows Mobile device, or possibly an iPhone 3G.

The Android OS is expected to be on a slate of devices in the next few years from LG Electronics, Samsung, Sprint, and more, so future handsets may have the security and features to thrive within the enterprise.

Multimedia

The G1 is able to play multiple codecs of audio and video, and should be a capable multimedia device. In an industry first, the handset will be preloaded with an Amazon application that enables users to search, buy, download, and play DRM-free music from Amazon's MP3 store, which offers more than 6 million songs.

The account is tied to your Amazon account, so one-click buying can be enabled. Users can only download songs over Wi-Fi, but purchases can be made over 3G or EDGE. In a potentially sour note, the handset doesn't include a headset jack and instead relies on a USB adaptor.

The Amazon tie-in is a potential coup for the G1 and Android, as it could provide a viable alternative for the iTunes juggernaut. For now, it appears that the iPhone 3G will continue to have the best multimedia functions, but handsets like the G1, BlackBerry Bold, and multiple devices from Nokia are quickly closing the gap.

Applications

The Android Market, which will go live Oct. 22, is expected to be a key driver for Android adoption, and while it appears similar to Apple's App Store, there will be some fundamental differences between the two.

Unlike Apple's offering, there won't be an approval process for Android apps. Drawing on its experience, Google will host the market, but the uploading, publishing, and distribution method will be similar to YouTube. This significantly lowers the barrier of entry for developers, as some have complained that Apple's approval process is mysterious and unfair. But it's unknown at the moment if there will be any protocols in place to stop malware like auto-dialing programs from getting on users' handsets.

One of the largest differences between the G1 and the iPhone is that the G1 will be able to run applications in the background. This enables users to have an IM program open while they're browsing the Web and switch between the two. Apple designed the iPhone to not run background apps to save processing power and battery, and the company is prepping its push-notification service. Background app capability has long been available on Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, Symbian, and Palm handsets.

Another difference between the two app stores is that all apps in the Android store will be free at launch. The majority of Apple's apps are free, but many cost between $1 and $9.99. Android apps could eventually be sold, but Google said they will not take a cut of the revenue, unlike Apple.

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