The widely anticipated debut of the Google Smart Phone is today. The phone will be made my HTC, sold by TMobile, and run by Android the open source operating system. Offering free email service to all subscribers, It appears Google and Tmobile are going after the blackberry market more than iPhone which sounds like a clever plan to me. Apple users are very loyal and very unlikely to move away from their beloved iPhones. Blackberry and Treo users will be looking closely at the new phone and I think in many cases happy to move to a better phone (me certainly included as a Treo user).
David Berlind has a very insightful piece about the upcoming offering from Google in the cell phone space. Usually this is called the “G Phone” (or maybe “gPhone”? “gee, Phone!”), and it’s certainly coming soon to a handheld device near you.
It is still not clear if Google will actually endorse the hardware as well as the mobile software they’ve been working on, but there will be a phone by next year (I still predict it’ll be out in time for Christmas), and it will feature rich integration with Google maps, search, and probably a bunch of other clever Googley applications developed for the explosive mobile market.
Berlind notes that we are all seeking technological “religious experiences” with our devices, and the current crop of phones, even including the iPhone, do not deliver enough of them.
David is harder on the Apple iPhone than I have been but I agree that the holy grail ain’t here yet, and also agree that Google, learning from iPhone’s mistakes and all the hype and feedback about that project, might hit the cellular nail on the head with the gPhone. I predict a major Google phone innovation in using advertising to defray the cost of calling. This could take many forms but I think a clever integration of highly targeted advertising during web browsing and text messaging could be fairly inoffensive to users but provide a decent portion of the revenues that the carrier would need. Frankly all Google needs to do is reduce the cellular cost enough to the customer that they’ll switch over from other carriers like ATT and Sprint. These companies have done little to create brand loyalty and a better system will have users leaving in droves.
But we may have to wait until 2008 to find out how good the gPhone is going to be.
Unless they are out by Christmas, in which case I may actually do my Christmas shopping early this year.