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9/23/2008
05:39 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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The Android Platform Will Curb Apple's Arrogance

Google and T-Mobile have finally brought the first Android-powered mobile phone to the market, and not a moment too soon. Apple's iPhone needs some competition.

Google and T-Mobile have finally brought the first Android-powered mobile phone to the market, and not a moment too soon. Apple's iPhone needs some competition.I love my first-generation iPhone. It's three devices in one: a phone, an iPod, and a game player. That alone is enough for me: Carrying one piece of hardware rather than three is worth the drawbacks. And the iPhone is a nice looking piece of hardware.

What I don't like, more than AT&T's slow network, is Apple's highhandedness. The company's refusal to allow iPhone applications that duplicate the functionality of Apple applications is anti-competitive. I'd have thought that Apple, after living through the 1990s under Microsoft's thumb, would be more sensitive to monopolistic behavior. Evidently not.

Now that's not to say that Apple is entirely in the wrong here. There may be issues with the Podcaster app that made Apple reject it for misusing iPhone resources. But if that's the case, Apple hasn't communicated its reasoning clearly to the public.

Apple could do with a lesson here from Google in monopolist message management. Google engages with the Internet community when confronted by user concerns related to its services; Apple just leaks internal e-mails from Steve Jobs when contrition is necessary.

Up until today, Apple could afford to be arrogant. The iPhone hasn't had any real competition. But Android phones should change that.

When my initial two-year contract with AT&T expires in June 2009, I'll be looking seriously at Android devices. The T-Mobile G1 looks a bit ungainly, but there will be other Android phones next year.

The thing that will make or break the deal will be the availability, or lack thereof, of an alternative to Apple's iTunes that can sync MP3 files between the phone and my home computer.

With today's announcement that Amazon's MP3 music store will come preloaded on the T-Mobile G1, there's reason to believe that Apple's dominance of the digital song download market will diminish. I'm hoping someone will develop a cross-platform syncing application that backs up files stored on phones on local PCs and on the Web.

The Android platform won't change the mobile phone business overnight. But it should promote a more competitive, more innovative industry.

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