The First Android Phone: Reactions and Predictions
So the details are in on the T-Mobile G1--the first phone based on Google's open source Android operating system. It's got some interface attractions not found on the iPhone, including a trackball and a slide-out keyboard, and it ties in with a broad range of Google's services, including StreetView, Google Maps, Gmail and more. At $179, it's cheaper than the iPhone, but it has some disadvantages in comparison, especially the fact that T-Mobile only offers 3G service in 21 cities. Let's not forget that this phone runs an open source platform though. Here are some thoughts from the LiMo Foundation, and predictions.
We've covered the LiMo Foundation's open source efforts in the mobile space several times, and it has attracted powerful partners, including Verizon Wireless and Mozilla. There are already multiple handsets available running LiMo's Linux-based platform. So what does LiMo have to say about the new G1 phone and Android's prospects. Here is today's statement from Morgan Gillis, executive director of the LiMo Foundation:
"As an organization that was brought into being by the mobile industry to unlock innovation and catalyze choice throughout the value system -- and especially for the mobile consumer -- LiMo Foundation welcomes the launch of the G1 device using Google's Android platform. We believe that the G1, following after the 23 handsets already brought to mobile consumers using the LiMo Platform, provides further support to the widely held view that Linux is now positioned to become the most widely deployed OS within open mobile handsets."
"We also look to Google to use the occasion of the launch of the G1 to openly answer some of the important questions outstanding since the Google Android platform was announced almost a year ago: which services will be made available to mobile consumers on Google Android handsets but not on other open mobile handsets; will G1 users have an open and free choice about whether or not they subscribe to Google's services; why has Google elected to build its own handset platform rather than working collaboratively with the mobile industry on the available alternatives?"
Hmm, the LiMo Foundation also "welcomed" the Symbian Foundation, which is moving forward with its own mobile open source efforts. While I don't think this first Android phone is going to represent stiff competition for the iPhone at this point, I think all the Android phones are going to be stiff competition for LiMo, open source Symbian, and especially for Microsoft.
This first Android phone ties in with Google's services very closely, and that could end up being attractive enough for Google that it begins to subsidize Android phones. At $179, with a $25 monthly data plan, the G1 is cheaper than the iPhone, but Google could end up making these phones far cheaper if they prove to hook people with Google's services and ad network. Another wild card is whether developers deliver a lot of good, free applications for Android phones--as can be had easily on the iPhone.
The early applications for Android that we've covered look excellent. If the applications keep coming through, we could see some exciting competition in the mobile space. That has to be worrisome for LiMo, the Symbian Foundation, Nokia and Microsoft.