Wednesday, 24 September 2008
The first android phone...
The first phone based on Google's Android mobile platform has been announced and of course immediately compared to Apple's iPhone, but then all mobile devices are nowadays - which says something about what any new device has to cope with! It's imaginatively called the G1 and comes with a touch screen (not multi-touch), lots of wireless interfaces and most of the usual features you would expect. But I am not convinced it is the capabilities and features of the G1 which will determine its success.
The iPhone must be the most hyped device of all time. And sure, it has a number of limitations. But it is the phone that is in everyone's mind when comparing others. It is very difficult to compete against the mind of the consumer. It is also harder to launch a new consumer product in the advent of an economic recession. But I think two other things may make Google's entry to the phone market very difficult. Compared to Apple, Google doesn't have the same unique hardware and software capability, rather it will always be harder to come up with the best user experience on devices when they are effectively a product of many producers, all integrated together. We've seen that in the difference of the user experience between the Mac and the PC.
The second very dangerous risk that Google is taking with Android is the application distribution policy and infrastructure. The tech users and the hackers, the leading edge folk will love the openness and the ability to do absolutely anything with the phone, loading any software they like, with no certification or checking of what various downloaded software does or where it comes from. But the normal user, the man in the street, may actually worry quite a lot about the exploits that the mis-users may attempt on their phones. Again,we know from the PC experience how if some people can do bad things then they will, resulting in a virus problem that everyone detests.
I hope that Android manages to do well despite the concerns I have raised here. Certainly the market can do with more initiatives like this to provide better and more innovative advances than Windows Mobile or Nokia/Symbian would make if left alone. Perhaps Google is simply using Android to attempt to fragment the marketplace and drive the eventual mobile applications space into the cloud?