Is the G1 an iPhone killer?
It definitely has been an incredible week. t-Mobile kicked things off on Tuesday, revealing the HTC made G1, the first Google Android powered handset. The G1 will hit store shelves on October 22 in T-Mobiles recently launched 3G markets across the country. Thousands of current T-Mobile customers have already rushed T-Mobile’s website, to place their pre-orders for the G1 and the excitement in the air can definitely be felt.
Unfortunately there are lot of people who seem to think that the G1 isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Being an HTC fan, I would generally have to disagree with a lot of what they have to say, but it seems some do have some legitimate complaints about the Android OS and the G1 itself.
The first round of complaints come from the iPhone fanatics. Over the past few days I have read a few dozen "iPhone vs. G1" articles, which have pitted the phones head to head on specs, performance, and software offerings. It seems the iPhone fanboys are always the quickest and loudest in voicing their opinion that there’s nothing on the market that will beat their iPhone.
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Fortunately for me, I let most of these articles pass on by since I’m not an apple or an iPhone far. all HTC devices in the past have used Windows Mobile, which does have it’s flaws, but I was using a touch screen phone from HTC that could do everything the iPhone does about two years before Apple even announced their product line. Apple wants to take credit for being the first to turn your phone into a music player, media player, internet browser, and much more, when the only thing they really did was make all that a little prettier than HTC had at the time. The beauty of having a Windows Mobile powered device was that you could transform you look and functionality of your device with thousands of software programs (it tool Apple a year to realize that their software offering simply wasn’t enough to satisfy people’s needs).
Though I’m not the biggest fan of Windows Mobile, it allowed me to do almost anything that I wanted with my phone. There were some limitations to what software developers were able to do with the OS, but most developers were able to creatively implement great software with little restrictions.
Now, the T-Mobile G1 is stepping into the game with a whole new approach. Google purchased and developed Android with the intention of giving away a free Open Source mobile operating system that would have the power to run anything any developer threw at it. The only catch is that Google added seamless integration of their web services into the OS so that they could make a buck or two through mobile search. The end result is a clean framework which had almost unlimited potential.
Like the iPhone App Store, Google will have an Android Marketplace where developers will be able to distribute their software directly to Android powered handsets. Though there are a lot of similarities between the two stores, the Android Marketplace does not have any Google approval process. Currently, Apple has complete control over the app that show up on their store. recently there has been a lot of talk about how Apple has rejected many apps simply because they duplicated some functionality that may have already been on the iPhone or because they allowed users to change phone features which Apple didn’t want users to have control over.
At the moment, Google has said that the Android Marketplace will be very similar to YouTube. Users can add any app to the system and then they will be rated on a five star scale. The good apps will surface to the top in their category and any app that simply fails to impress will sink to the bottom. Though Google has not mentioned this yet, I’m sure they will be scouting through the apps and removing malicious software or any that may be infringing on other people’s copyrights, just like they currently do on YouTube (some of the time).
There has been a lot of talk about how the G1 simply does not match up to the iPhone’s media capabilities. The G1 will ship with an MP3 and audio player, but will not have a video player (besides YouTube) pre-installed. One Apple fanboy was quick to point out that the G1 will not have iTunes support. Really? I can’t remember last time at a non Apple phone or MP3 player featured iTunes support. The G1 will be shipping with support for Amazon.com’s MP3 store which users can use to browse and sample music over the 3G network, but will need a WiFi connection to download the music directly to the device. The Android Marketplace already has one video player ready to download for the G1, but I’m a bit disappointed that it’s not included into the package.
I have a few thoughts on why Google did not include everything to make the G1 a head to head media competitor with the iPhone.
- Google wants users to learn to download any additional programs that they need. A video player is probably the most essential app that most users will want. Within minutes of getting the G1 up and running, most users will be browsing the app store to download the video player. Once they have downloaded that, they will be browsing for more apps that will add additional functionality of the device.
- Google simply want Android to be the basic foundation of a great phone. It is up to the service provider to customize the OS and position the phone where they want it. If T-Mobile wanted a media intensive G1, they could have programmed an all inclusive media player for the G1.
Whatever Google’s real intentions were, future Android powered phones will most likely feature a variety of different setups right out of the box. Keep in mind, the G1 is the very first Android phone. The iPhone didn’t even allow you to install any apps on your handset till they can out with the second version.
There’s still a lot that I’m missing, but we have 26 days till the G1 lands on my doorstep. The main reason I’m enamored with the idea of the G1 is because, like the Windows Mobile phones I have owned in the past, I can do almost anythign with Android and on top of that, it’s not a Microsoft product! Expect a few more of my thought before then.