Monday, January 25, 2010
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
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Tuesday, January 12, 2010
And Walmarts shall become bastions in the coming zombie apocalypse. :p
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Sunday, January 10, 2010
Well this is interesting: on stage with Walt Mossberg at a live AllThingsD Event at CES, Andy Rubin (apparently unprompted) mentioned an “enterprise” version of the Nexus One that would include a keyboard, bigger battery and world connectivity. Here is a portion of the transcript from Engadget:
Walt: “So based on what you said, two questions pop into my mind; what’s an enterprise version of this phone? Doesn’t it support Exchange?”
Andy: “It does, but an enterprise version might be something with a physical keyboard, it may be a world phone…” Walt: “But then it’s a different device…” Andy: “Yeah, it’s a different SKU.”
Unfortunately the “based on what you said” portion, where Rubin unpromptedly (that should be a word) introduced the Nexus One enterprise version, wasn’t transcribed. I’m sure more details, and hopefully a video of the event, will come out soon.
If this IS true… would it be called the Nexus One Pro, a naming convention HTC has used on their touch models? Or could this be the Nexus Two? Would it be the exact same specs as the Nexus One with these slight additions or will Google have more of an upgraded prepared? Would this come out in the near future or quite awhile down the road?
In the same interview when Walt Mossberg suggested Droid owners were upset that a “better” phone came out so quickly, Rubin responded with : “Because we introduced a new product?”
I tend to agree with Rubin – you can’t get mad because a company strives to continually put out even better products. But being deceitful and suggesting a better phone WON’T come out for quite awhile and luring MORE people into purchasing and then upgrading again soon after – THAT would be an issue in my book.
What say you, Phandroids?
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Good info on why cell phone cameras suck and plug for Omnivision. http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/06/mobile-phones-ingest-more-single-serving-devices/
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
The CHEAP way to pay for a Nexus One — think TCO
5 January 2010 by lukehutch
DON’T GET THE GOOGLE NEXUS ONE PHONE ON CONTRACT (even if you already have a contract with T-Mobile), YOU’LL LOSE A LOT OF MONEY. Here is all the math to prove it:
- T-Mobile is messing with everybody’s minds by telling them they can have the phone now for $180 on a 2-year contract — you think you’ll save money in the long run as well as up front that way. There’s no free lunch. In the long run you may end up paying hundreds more if you buy the phone on contract.
- You can get out of paying for your current G1 contract by switching to the Even More Plus 500 non-contract plan (*not* the Even More 500 contract plan, it’s different). Conversion is $35. The only contractual obligation remaining is the early termination fee if you ditch T-Mobile entirely (see below).
- Even More Plus 500 is a no-contract plan and will save you a lot of money over most other plans, and certainly you will save over a hundred dollars compared to the Even More 500 with the exact same plan features if you purchase the Nexus One.
- You can save “even more” if you get Google Voice and use GV for all your SMS, and then request they take SMS off your account ($10/mo), converting your plan to the (undocumented) Even More Plus 500 Talk+Web (rather than the default Even More Plus 500 Talk+Text+Web) plan.
TOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP (TCO) ANALYSIS:
- The N1 is $180 on 2-yr contract or $530 off-contract. You’ll end up paying (with taxes etc.) about $88/mo for the 79.99 2-year contract (Even More 500). So 180+88*24 = $2292.
- If you get the phone off-contract and pay T-Mobile for the Even More PLUS 500 plan ($60/mo) that has the *same features* as Even More 500 but is non-contract (after a $35 conversion fee), it’s about $67/mo after taxes etc., or 530+67*24+35 = 2173, saving $119. (You can see how they picked the $530 and $180 price points though, they’re close in TCO.)
- However if you get the Even More Plus 500 non-contract plan and then ask them to cancel the text messaging bundle (-$10/mo) and then you use Google Voice for all SMS, you only pay about $56/mo after taxes, or 530+56*24+35=$1909, saving $383. (You do pay 20c for each SMS to/from your non-GoogleVoice number, if you ever get any — so change your cell number and get everyone to use your GV number).
- There is a (530-180)+119 = $469 difference between the *perceived* additional cost to the consumer of buying the phone outright (it’s $350 more) and the actual additional savings to the consumer of buying the phone outright (you save $119 in TCO) without even using the Google Voice trick to further reduce costs. This gives you a measure of how deceptive the phone price marketing really is, because the *only* reason someone would sign up for the contract version is so that they (supposedly) save money. That’s a $19.50 difference in perceived cost per month of your plan, amortized across the 24 months.
Basically they’re taking people for a ride by making them think they’re going to get a good deal by avoiding the apparently large up-front cost of the phone and signing up for a 2-year contract. The Even More Plus 500 Talk+Text+Web plan gives you *exactly* the same features as the Even More 500 Talk+Text+Web 2-year contract. However the Even More 500 contract won’t let you change features like canceling SMS — and you’re stuck with a huge early Nexus One early termination fee of $350. Add that to your expected cost if you ever think you’ll leave T-Mobile in the next two years.
So if you’re on a T-Mobile contract, e.g. you bought a G1 phone a year ago, get Google Voice, pay the $35 fee to convert to Even More Plus 500, cancel the SMS bundle, buy the phone outright and start using Google Voice for all SMS. You’ll save hundreds of dollars in the long run. But even without Google Voice, you’ll save a third of the price of the phone by going off contract. (I know you can’t easily sign up for Google Voice right now, but wait a little while, anywhere from weeks to a few months, and you will be able to when GV+Gizmo opens for public consumption.)
Note that if you switch to Even More Plus: (1) T-Mobile will never let you switch back to a contract again, without canceling and signing up anew; (2) you still have to pay early termination fees for old contracts (for the G1 etc.) if you do cancel your account; and (3) you are not eligible for equipment upgrades — but you would only get a partial discount on a new phone after 22 months anyway, and you’d have to renew a 2-year contract again at that point. After the above analysis though — why would you care about any of these restrictions?
Off-contract is the way of the future. Take back control from your carrier.
Follow me on Twitter — http://twitter.com/LukeBos
My Android stuff (original multi-touch hack, etc.) – http://lukehutch.wordpress.com/android-stuff
Are you sure you get $10 off when requesting to have the texting part of the plan removed? I noticed that if you try to get a talk only plan ($30/month) on the T-Mobile site and select a smartphone, they automatically add a $25/month web plan. So the cost would be $55/month. So, if what you’re saying is true then it’s either:
talk+text+web – text = $50/month OR
talk+mandatory web plan = $55/month
I would find it surprising if you could get the same plan at two different prices just by how you went about putting it together.
Yes, I’m basing this on the prices quoted here: $30 for talk, $40 for talk+text, $60 for talk+text+web. All before taxes of course. I got the $60 plan and asked them to take off texting, they said it would cost me $50. (It’s just an unlisted combination of options.)
$10 for unlimited SMS when you have unlimited data? Highway robbery.
Please note that T-Mobile sometimes offers generous corporate discounts (e.g. 14% off everything, if you are a AAA member). Last I checked, these type of discounts didn’t get extended to some of the more recently offered rate plans, such as the new Even More Plus plans.
Depending on which existing rate plan you are on, which plan your thinking of changing to, and which discounts are available to you, the overall math can get a lot more complicated.
Markus: a really good point. I was on a 15% discount plan through MIT, and had to give that up to get on Even More Plus. I still save $5/mo or so though over my old plan. The other nice thing is that the $35 conversion fee is refunded to your account within 1-2 billing cycles if you were previously on a corporate discount plan, to somehow compensate for the loss of the discount.
i think you are missing a huge point in you post. if you buy the nexus through google and sing up for the tmobile plan you only get 500 minutes. and you still have to pay for the text and data. the total is 79.99 with a two year contract.
500 minutes is a joke. how much more is it going to cost you when you go over. i could use 500 minutes in a couple of days.
but if you just buy the phone outright for the same price you can get unlimted minutes, text and data, with no contract. and you still save $130 over two years on just the phone alone, and you dont worry about overage minutes.
lets see…save $ and talk without worries…ill pay the $530.
the problem with people is that they want something they think is cheap now, but dont realize what it is really costing them….see the housing market.
You are right, 500 minutes is not much. I can barely squeeze into 500 minutes myself, I used to go over 600 all the time. (Note that you also get unlimited Tmo-to-Tmo and nights and weekends though.)
However you’re missing one key point: Google Voice + Gizmo5. It’s happening, and it’s happening really really soon. Definitely within the 2-year timeframe we’re talking about, probably within the next 4-6 months tops. At that point the 500-minute limit becomes immaterial. Some people may take the leap and go to data-only plans: $20 or $25/mo *total*. (I probably won’t because I don’t get good data speeds everywhere in and around Boston.) With a non-contract plan you are at liberty to do anything you want with your plan (like stop paying for voice), at any time, without risking plan renewal or termination fees.
Note that even if you go for the completely unlimited Even More Plus Unlimited, the same price at $80/mo as you point out, you can *still* cancel the SMS option, use GV for SMS, and save yourself about $11*24 = $264 over 2 years. Then you’re paying $350-$264 = $86 more than the 2-year contract rate, so as long as you expect more than $3.60/mo average on overage fees, you’d save money by canceling SMS. If you don’t cancel SMS, you of course get unlimited everything off contract for $350 more total, or you would pay $14.60 more per month than being on contract with the amortized cost of the phone factored over 24 months.
Why pay the $35 fee to convert to Even More Plus 500? Just stay on your G1 contract and put the SIM in a Nexus One you buy outright. For my current plan (although not available anymore) MyFaves 300 and T-Mobile G1 Unlimited Web + 400 Messages I pay ~$60/month after taxes with the 14% UC Berkeley affiliation discount.
I’m just so sick and tired of my contract in general. I’ve got ~12 months left on mine and a little less on my wife’s. I bought the N1 for the full price and plan to stop getting phones for the reduced price. It’s a usually ~$200-300 price difference which is only about $10/month anyway. I much prefer to not be locked down to any company even though I plan to stick with TMO (I’ve been with them for 8-9 years and like them a lot). It feels good when you don’t have a contract. I didn’t for the longest time and loved it.
Couple of things.
#1-You are completely right, this is why I bought it at $530.
#2-If you live anywhere near in the Midwest Check out iWireless (http://iwireless.com/plans.asp) $50 will get you unlimited talk and web, $10 more will get you unlimited text (which is not needed as noted above), pretty nice. I am pretty sure that they roam on T-Mobile outside of their area, so you could conceivably get a plan and never actually be in the area. I know of people in the bay area that use their iPhones on it and hardly ever come near Iowa.
#3-Your link http://lukehutch.google.com/android-stuff is not right, I thought it might be code.google.com, but that didn’t work either.
#4-Take back your devices and wireless plans! They should be competing for our business, we should not be shopping around for the best deals.
#5-Great post and great work Luke.
if you drop the sms option it will only save you $5 a month. it is 49.99 for the plan, and for data to work with the nexus it will be 25. i have no problem paying 5 for unlimited sms. and that would only be 120 over 2 years. and if you get incoming texts to your number you end up paying for them. and people do love to text phone numbers regardless of gv or not.
i am looking forward to some day when i can drop voice and have data only and still be able to make unlimited calls. if it happens my bill will be just for data, but untill then i will be paying the 79.99.
I don’t get this $5 off comment. Unless the data price goes from $20 of the bill to $25 of the bill if you drop SMS. The cost breakdown on the T-Mobile site is clear, as I linked to above in one of the responses. I certainly saved $10/mo myself when I called TMo and asked them to make this change.
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Sunday, January 3, 2010
I agree that the Nexus One phone, running Google's Android operating system, will be a tremendous success.
There seems to be a few variations of this phone, with slight differences for different markets. Apart from the Nexus One, there's the HTC Passion (to be sold by Verizon), and the HTC Bravo (to be sold in Europe).
These phones will supersede HTC's previous effort, the HTC HD2, which ran the aging Windows Mobile operating system from Microsoft. I think the most attrition will come from Windows Mobile, and I personally don't think it will survive to the end of 2010. The reason is that Microsoft's Windows Mobile and Google's Android are aiming for the same market, and need to attract hardware OEMs. The market share of Windows Mobile has been plummeting, whilst Android is experiencing astronomical growth.
This can be seen in the number of applications available for each platform. Windows Mobile has fewer than 2000 apps in its Marketplace, and the number isn't increasing since the software developers have deserted to go to Android. Android has accumulated around 20,000 apps in the last year. While iPhone has around the 100,000 mark.
So the successes of the new era of mobile internet are Google's Android and Apple's iPhone. The loser is Microsoft's Windows Mobile, which is out of the game.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Android Motorola Droid and HTC Hero Review from an iPhone Perspective — Smartphone Round Robin | The iPhone Blog
Google’s Android was last year’s “new thing”, and while Palm’s webOS takes that place this year, Android Central brings us their second generation hardware with the likes of the HTC Hero, and the 2.0 version of its OS with the Motorola Droid. That Google enjoys massive tech-geek cachet while at the same time maturing into two such different (potentially fractured?) sets of hardware and software, while being the cloud company and yet not enjoying the most cloud-centric OS in the 2009 Smartphone Round Robin are what make it potentially the most interesting platform this year.
(And just a reminder, every day you post on my Android Central thread, or any of the official Round Robin threads, is another day you’re entered to win one of six (6!) new smartphones!)
Okay, time to get Androidy with it… after the break!
Android: Take Two
First, here’s the Droid and Hero tour I got, courtesy of Casey.
And here are the rest of the contextual links:
- Android Central’s Phil Nickinson, Keith Newman, and Rene on the iPhone Live! podcast.
- Android Central Motorola Droid review.
- Android Central HTC Hero review.
- 2008 TiPb Smartphone Round Robin Android G1 video
- 2008 TiPb Smartphone Round Robin Android G1 review
Android’s two entries in the 2009 Smartphone Round Robin couldn’t be any more different. One is made my Motorola, the other by HTC. One runs on Verizon, the other on Sprint (or also on Verizon under the name Droid Eris — more on that later). One is vanilla Android 2.0, the other is HTC’s Sense UI. One is an HD slider, the other an SD slab. One’s design harkens to the hard edges of the Millennium Falcon (if MC Hammer had repainted it), and the other the softer lines of the princess (if that irony isn’t too rich).
More specifically, the Droid is a well built slider, impossibly thin — iPhone thin — for a device with that type of keyboard. However, that type of keyboard is woefully inadequate on the Droid. It’s so flat and so lacking in separation, it really feels like little more than the stick-on it is. If having a better keyboard would have meant having a thicker Droid, I would have been fine with that. Oh, and that 5-way? Yeah, it’s a 5-way. It confused all of us. It looks like the chip on our new credit cards, feels like it should be a a touch pad, but it seems to be a 5-way. I’m still not sure though. All I know is that it shoves an already poor keyboard all the way to the even-less functional left.
Again, the irony of mocking Apple as having form over function should not be lost. Other than that — and it’s a big “that” for the hardware keyboard set — the build quality here is top notch. (Okay, maybe the camera is disappointing given its specs, but like others I hold hope for a software fix).
The screen is fantastic, however. Big and bright and 16:9, it’s very much what the next generation of smartphones should be.
The Hero is just as well built. Depending on what version you get, it can be chinned or chinless, but the basic clean curves and clear screen is the same. It isn’t the monster the Droid is — it doesn’t have the huge keyboard or screen or camera, but that’s the point. Not everyone wants a monster, and for those who want more of (I’ll say it!) an iPhone form-factor, the Hero might just be the better Android hardware.
Where to start? Android is now on version 1.5. Or 1.6. Or 2.0. Or maybe 2.1 in beta. And it’s UI is the Google Experience. Or HTC Sense UI. Or MotoBlur. Or some other stuff that I can never un-know. Is that a software experience or software schism? More on that later.
Droid/with Google Software
The Motorola Droid runs a Google version of Android 2.0. Compared to previous “with Google” devices, it’s good if not great, powerful if not polished. Lightyears ahead of the G1 I tried last year (where it would ask for input when none was possible), but it’s still not the iPhone US. It’s still inconsistent, and for whatever reason, even though Android 2.0 supports multi-touch, the Google apps on the Droid don’t. (And yes that makes a difference on a capacitive device).
If you’re heavily invested in Google services (like I am, and like most geeks are), you won’t find a better shipping device that supports those services. From a real, honest-to-threads-and-labels Gmail app, to free Google Maps Navigation in the US, if you’ve decided Google’s convenience is worth more than your privacy (and it’s a very convenient convenience, which is why most of us have), then deciding Google’s own platform best leverages that isn’t a hard second step.
As to the rest of the OS, it’s pretty much what we saw last year. It’s got multitasking but not as well visually represented as Palm’s webOS. It’s got far better notifications than the iPhone, even if again they may not be as well handled by the UI as webOS. It’s also got apps. Not as many as the iPhone, of course, but building quickly and given the open nature of the Android Market, while the apps may not be as many or as polished as the iPhone, they have apps Apple won’t even let in the store. (Not coincidentally Google’s own Latitude and Voice.
Hero Sense UI
Unlike the Google experience on the Droid, HTC has wrapped up the Hero in Sense UI, an evolution of the TouchFlo UI they previously lacquered on top of Windows Mobile (and will be using going forward on that platform as well).
It’s widgety and beautiful, and works much better on the Hero’s capacitive screen than its predecessor did on the Touch Pro in last year’s Round Robin. The weather animation is still something I unabashedly hope Apple somehow integrates into the iPhone OS. It’s still slightly less intuitive and consistent to me than the iPhone UI — but the eye candy alone balances the scales.
The tradeoff — and there’s always a tradeoff — is that it takes time for HTC to spin their Sense UI on top of Android updates, so while “with Google” devices might go to 2.0 sooner, HTC might only get a Sense UI version out later.
And This is Where it Gets Interesting
To recap: Google offers Android on a liberal, open-source license. Motorola makes MotoBlur for their Android devices, but not for the Droid which uses the Google experience. Actually, Verizon owns the Droid trademark and they also offer a Droid Eris, but that’s made by HTC and is otherwise called the Hero and runs Sense UI. HTC also made the G1 and myTouch which don’t run Sense UI. Oh, and the Droid off Verizon will be called the Milestone.
Apple has the iPhone.
Contrast those two paragraphs. As a consumer, if you want an iPhone you get an iPhone. As a consumer, I’m not even sure if you know what an Android device is. I’ve seen Droid commercials here in Canada, but that device won’t exist in Canada. I go to my local carrier and try to buy one and get what… confused? And if HTC runs Sense UI on top of Android and Windows Mobile, do I buy an HTC device and not even notice what’s running underneath? Or do I just get a Verizon device like Droid or Eris and never know they’re Android or are the Milestone and Hero?
What I’m getting to there is branding. Apple offers a single, consistent brand. Google’s Android is sundered amid who knows how many brands and while that doesn’t hurt individual devices, could it hurt the platform as a whole? (We’ll be covering Windows Phone next week, which Micrsoft is now calling Windows Phone because it seems many people who had Windows Mobile devices had no idea what platform they actually had — does that answer the question? We’ll see.)
So the Droid outside Verizon will be the Milestone. And the G1/myTouch off T-Mobile are the Magic/Dream, and on my carrier they might be stuck on Android 1.5 forever, because Google only updates “with Google” devices and HTC may only be updating Sense UI devices, and Rogers certainly doesn’t seem to care. These are devices sold in 2009.
To contrast again, even an iPhone 2G from 2007 is currently running the latest iPhone 3.1.2 software.
I’m tempted to say for an average consumer they won’t care. They’ll buy the device they want and when and if it doesn’t update (if they even know it didn’t update) they’ll just buy the next device. But I don’t think many average consumers buy Android devices yet (possibly with the exception of the much-hyped Droid on Verizon, who had a paucity of smartphone selection previous to its release).
In general, I think more savvy, geeky users seek out Android, and seek it out specifically, and they’re exactly the type of user who will and should care.
And not just because they may not get the latest Android OS, but because the breadth of Android platforms out there, from 1.5 to beta 2.1 makes a huge target for developers, and not in the good sense of the term. With the iPhone (and iPod touch) there are 50+ million users most of whom updated to 3.x at some point when they plugged into iTunes (and we won’t get into Google still lacking an offline sync/backup/media management tool like iTunes). So the choice for developers is targeting tens of millions of almost identical Apple devices, or nearly a dozen Google phones on 4 different versions of the OS, running one of 3 different UI layers, with at least two different screen resolutions and an odd assortment of input methods (touch only, touch and keyboard, touch and keyboard and trackball/trackpad/etc.)
To put that in some form of end-user perspective, when I first got the G1 last year I went to Android Market and downloaded a Snake game and was told to “push up to start”, and it took forever for me to figure out what “up” they meant. (The screen, the keyboard, the trackball?)
When one of our writers got the Droid, she tweeted exactly the same problem.
That Android Thing
Let’s be clear — as much as Apple runs iTunes on low-margins to promote the sale of iPods (including the iPhone), Google gives away web services to promote the attraction of our eyeballs to their advertising. They’re just as happy if those eyeballs are looking at Google services on an Apple or Microsoft or Rim or Palm or whatever platform, but if Microsoft or Apple (for example) ever locked Google out to promote their own services (like Bing or MobileMe), Google would have a problem. (Just look at how Facebook locks out Google for an example).
Enter Android. By having their own platform on the market, Google knows there’s one place from which they can never be locked out. And more than that, they can use it as a lever to promote the technologies that best serve Google services — things that make the web, and hence WebApps run faster and more reliably. That’s good for everybody, but make no mistake — Google does it because it’s good for Google first and foremost.
I state all this not because that makes Google any different from any other for-profit company — or platform in the Round Robin — but because it makes it the same, and for some reason the technorati often likes to assume Google is different. No company is. I’m not sure any company can realistically afford to be.
Which brings us back to Android. Google’s current Mobile OS is a conundrum. It’s a traditional platform OS from the company that’s usually anything but. I still half-suspect Android was acquired solely for the reason stated above — to guarantee Google couldn’t be locked out of the mobile space. Then when Palm released webOS, Google smacked their head and Chrome OS was born. That the most traditional of all smartphone companies beat the new kid, Google to the web-ification of mobile, is something, and it raises some interesting questions and concerns about the Android platform.
Apple made the iPhone because Steve Jobs wanted an iPhone. Yeah they figured they could sell 50 million of them, but primarily Job’s is a diva who wanted to dent the universe one more time. I’m guessing RIM makes BlackBerrys because they’re just as passionate about that pushy little platform. Elevation Partners may be sinking money into Palm in a bet to get a part of the huge mobile pot of the future, but if Rubinstein hadn’t have wanted it he could have stayed retired on his giant pile of Apple-bucks and let Palm churn out the Treo 900. And Microsoft… well I don’t really get the feeling Ballmer cares about Windows Mobile any further than he thinks Microsoft needs that screen in its collection, and I think that’s part of their core problem (but we’ll get to that next week).
Google has much the same problem as Microsoft — the people at the top don’t seem to be, and really don’t need to be as passionate about their platform, and that shows. Now I’m not saying Andy Rubin, who founded Android isn’t passionate, and I’m sure many of the Googlers are deeply passionate about Android, but at the top Android doesn’t exist because Eric or Sergey or Larry just had to have that phone. It exists, like I said, so that Google can’t get shut off from mobile eyeballs by a competitor.
And that’s what the Android thing feels like to me. Not the product Google wants themselves (that might be Chrome OS), but a strategic move they decided to make.
Yes, Android offers killer Google services integration. If Google is your life, Android is clearly the OS for you. If you don’t use Google, I’m not sure there’s any reason to get Android over another device. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good at everything, but unlike the other devices, it’s not killer at any of them.
It doesn’t have the UI or handle media as well as the iPhone, it’s not the communications monster BlackBerry is, it’s not full-on Linux like Nokia’s Maemo, and it doesn’t make the web manifest, nor handle multitasking or notifications as elegantly as Palm’s webOS.
If you’re on Verizon or T-Mobile or Sprint and want something iPhone-like. If you can’t stand Apple’s dictatorial control over the iPhone app ecosystem. If you want a hardware option other than the full-screen slab. If there’s some dealbreaker for you about the iPhone then Android is a good alternative.
Which is crazy when you think Google makes this OS. They’re the megacorp of the 21st century. They’re a verb. They have more money and talent and reach than almost any other company. They make Android… but I think the problem is they don’t champion it. Again, their ultimate C-level goal isn’t to make the best smartphone on the planet, they’re goal is to get the most eyeballs on the planet, and that means making great stuff for every platform.
Now it’s quite possible that Google will keep iterating and by this time next year it could be head and shoulders above everyone else. It could be the “iPhone killer”, swarming over Apple’s device with a hive of Android-powered alternatives, some of which are clearly better in many or most ways. Anything is possible when it comes to Google. (Though people used to say that about Microsoft as well, but again we’ll visit that next week).
In the end, this is a very different review than I expected to write, and I think that’s because of how much I expected from Google this year. Arguably Android has as much if not more potential than any other platform, yet now in year two it still doesn’t seem to fully realize it. It doesn’t seem as ground-breaking as it should. Just look at how far Palm has come with webOS out of almost nowhere. Google’s had longer than that with Android and far more resources than Palm. That makes no sense to me, except that it’s exactly how Google has positioned it. For now.
Next year Google might just announce free cell service for everyone in the US. Then it’s game over.
In my opinion, for the best experience, go 'with Google'.
Saturday, January 02, 2010 12:00 AM/EST
Google is expected to unveil the device Jan. 5 at an Android press event at the company's Mountain View, Calif., Googleplex. We know the device is made by HTC, runs Android 2.1 and is super fast, with a Motorola Droid-like big touchscreen.
Documents indicate Google will sell the phone online for $529.99 unlocked or $179.99 through T-Mobile with a two-year contract.
Read Malone's piece and weep, Googlers and Google Fanboys alike. Most of the piece is an unabashed tribute to how great Apple is, detailing how great Apple's iPhone is and how most of whatever Apple turns out for consumers turns to gold. If you dislike Apple, this may set you to Level Seething, or at the least redden your cheeks a tad:
It has taken nearly two years for Apple's competitors to field products that are even close to the iPhone; to identify weaknesses in the device (such as the lack of a real keyboard for texters, its commitment to AT&T as service provider) and respond. Apple, meanwhile, has used that time to continuously improve the iPhone - the result being that the company now dominates the smartphone world to a degree Apple hasn't enjoyed since the early years of the Macintosh.
True, true. Motorola's Droid is passable, shipping nearly one million units since the November launch, which is not bad for the holiday season.
But it's no iPhone, and neither is Verizon Wireless' lower brow Droid companion, the Droid Eris. But after Googlers were given the device to dogfood, some concluded that the Nexus One could be the first real iPhone challenger.
Malone iced this idea:
Unfortunately, the early reports suggest that what Google will introduce next week, the Nexus One, will be a largely conventional smartphone. That's a pity because I suspect Google will never get this chance again.
Malone does suggest that it would be unwise to bet against Google, given its core search strength, smart people and billions in cash to spend. Moreover, he wrote:
Google could stun the tech world - and hit Apple at its weakest point - by coming out with a "Webphone," a device that uses the Internet, a la Skype, as its transmission medium and thus escaping forever the tyranny of the phone companies. There's a lot of problems with that strategy, of course, but it would certainly shock the world and put Apple on the defensive. Unfortunately, the early reports suggest that what Google will introduce next week, the Nexus One, will be a largely conventional smartphone.
But one can easily tell Malone doesn't believe the Google-stunning-the-world scenario is likely, so drunk on Apple's Kool-Aid is he.
Interestingly, Malone alludes to the Google Voice scenario so many of us have noted -- that Google could take the Gizmo5 assets, patch them to the Google Voice app and make it available on the Nexus One -- but says the Nexus One won't be that device.
Perhaps that will be Google's Gold nugget Jan. 5. We know, or think we know everything else already about the smartphone.
How cool would it be if Google surprised everyone by bridging Google Voice to the Nexus One, creating a device to circumvent the telcos and disrupt the industry? That would be huge, bigger than free turn-by-turn GPS for Android devices.
He goes on to write that the Apple Tablet will help Apple slingshot past the consumer electronics industry again, putting further distance between Apple and Google and everyone else:
Once again, Apple will have a new product that challenges convention, seemingly obsoletes an entire multibillion-dollar industry (in this case, handheld computers) while overwhelming a second, newer industry (netbooks, such as the Kindle) and yet is still stunning to look at. In other words, the Google phone will be a loser, even if it is a winner, because it will probably diminish Google's reputation as a tech juggernaut.
Jesus. You can't be a Google fan and not be a little depressed, or even angry at this flippant reference to Google as being a loser here. If we are to take Malone's dire characterization to heart, we could also very well agree that Google might as well jettison Android.
I disagree. I don't see how the Nexus One could be a "loser," or how it could ding Google's reputation. Android has its fragmentation issues on top of the uphill battle versus the iPhone, but that hasn't weakened Google's position in tech.
Here's how Malone's theory doesn't work. Think of iPhone and the App Store as a consumer electronics play, while Android is a mobile search and advertising play.
Sure, Google would be screwed if Android wasn't just another effort to pad Google's already massive search ad marketshare, albeit on the mobile Web. But that's what it is and, hell, mobile searches on Google.com were up 30 percent year-over-year in 2009.
For as much as some of us want to see Android fly high versus iPhone and all proprietary platforms, Google doesn't need to beat Apple. It just needs to be a viable alternative to temper the iPhone hegemony.
This isn't much different than why we need Microsoft's Bing or Yahoo, or even Microhoo to keep pushing Google to innovate.
Malone's piece will read like classic FUD to Googlers and Google Fanboys; to others, such as statisticians who can point to the overwhelming numbers of iPhone's market penetration versus Android, it will be harsh reality.
To me, it's as entertaining as a teen slasher movie. Fun, but a little far-fetched in its zero-sum prognostication that Apple wins and Google loses. That's okay though. I'll still read anything Malone writes any day of the week.
Posted by Clint Boulton on January 2, 2010 12:00 AMPermalink | Comments (0) | del.icio.us | digg.com | Trackback | Post a CommentView all of Hello, Android
"For as much as some of us want to see Android fly high versus iPhone and all proprietary platforms, Google doesn't need to beat Apple. It just needs to be a viable alternative to temper the iPhone hegemony." -This I agree. 'You can pick any smartphone as long as it's an iPhone'; screw that.