T-Mobile Google Phone Underwhelming Compared To Apple - InformationWeek

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9/24/2008
08:21 AM
Alexander Wolfe
Alexander Wolfe
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T-Mobile Google Phone Underwhelming Compared To Apple

Here's all you need to know about the ready-for-primetime-ness of the new T-Mobile Google phone. When I finally twisted my teenage daughter's arm to look at the pictures I posted of Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, at the Tuesday morning launch press conference, what she said was: "Why are they holding a Sidekick?"

Here's all you need to know about the ready-for-primetime-ness of the new T-Mobile Google phone. When I finally twisted my teenage daughter's arm to look at the pictures I posted of Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, at the Tuesday morning launch press conference, what she said was: "Why are they holding a Sidekick?"Which emphasizes my main takeaway from the introduction -- namely, the Google phone is clearly a work in progress. When you think about it, the GPhone is precisely what its name promises. It's an Android phone, as in the key differentiator is the Googly software supporting the platform. That software, and the apps which were demo'd at the press conference, are indeed interesting, innovative even.

However, the hardware is nothing unique. (Honestly, I'd have to say it's bricklike and boring.) This is surprising, given the fact that this first Google phone is made by HTC, which is one of the most innovative of cellphone makers.

So why do I say the Gphone is a work in progress? Well, contrast T-Mobile's software-heavy device with Apple's iPhone, which is nothing if not a well-tempered blend of purpose-built hardware and software. It's a combo which is so elegant that in a previous age it would've been designed by Bang & Olufson.

The new Google phone, though, has a face only a geek (or a guy who went to school with Sergey and Larry) could love.

Now, one thing T-Mobile didn't emphasize (and I don't blame them) is that this isn't the Gphone, it's just the first of hundred to come from different handset vendors and different network operators. Yet probably many members of the general public today think this is the one and only GPhone, just like many folks in the early 1990s thought AOL was the Internet.

Anyway, so the upshot is, this G1 GPhone isn't going to blow the iPhone out of the water. It probably won't even cause much of a ripple. On the other hand, Google and its partners will ultimately get it right. The GPhone will get better and better, and probably in short order, too.

Even the star turn by Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page at today's T-Mobile Android phone launch couldn't obscure the fact that the Gphone is unlikely to be a massive, immediate hit like Apple's iPhone, but rather seems be a work in progress. Call it a Sidekick on steroids, call it an appealing twist on the consumer feature phone. But, with its lack of Exchange support and a paucity of business features, don't call it the successor to the iPhone.

Want to see more? Check out my 23 pictures from T-Mobile's Google-phone intro press conference.

So are you chucking the BlackBerry? Let me know, by leaving a comment below or e-mailing me directly at [email protected].

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