T-Mobile G1 arrives. Not quite a Google vs. Apple battle

T-Mobile G1 arrives. Not quite a Google vs. Apple battle

Summary: Let the smartphone wrestling match begin.In this corner - wearing a touch screen, offering an App store and sporting an Apple logo - is the iPhone.

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Let the smartphone wrestling match begin.

In this corner - wearing a touch screen, offering an App store and sporting an Apple logo - is the iPhone. In the other corner - weighing in a little heavier, carrying a couple of extra buttons and backed by the brain power of Google, is the T-Mobile G1. And finally, standing outside the ring, hoping that a sleek design and a new App storefront will land it back in the ring, is the Blackberry maker itself, Research in Motion.

The G1, the first mobile device to run Google's Android mobile operating system, hit stores this morning, just one day after Apple announced that the iPhone has surpassed its 10-million-iPhones-by-year's-end milestone and that it had sold more phones that RIM in the last quarter. The early reviews of the G1 are mostly positive - though I've come across some rumblings about the buttons and the bulkiness of it, in comparison to the iPhone. Still, the user experience - where Google's search functionality and ties to applications such as Google Docs are everywhere - has been mostly well-received.

But wait, what's this? Google is stepping out of the ring. The search giant doesn't want to fight this fight of proprietary hardware and proprietary software. No, no. That's too much trouble. Instead, Google is giving away - yes, for free, and to anyone who wants it - the Android mobile operating system source code. This isn't just the software developers kit, this is the whole code, from beginning to end.

You see, Google isn't in the business of making mobile devices. It's in the business of selling online advertising (oh yeah, and online search). And seeing as how the computing world is shifting toward mobile devices (notice I didn't call it a phone), why not build the brains that will take Google's applications - search, mail, maps and so on - to a new level of usage in the mobile environment.

Let the other guys - the phone manufacturers and the service providers - worry about all of the other details: design, manufacturing, service contracts, marketing and so on. That doesn't play into Google's strengths. Placing ads in front of millions of eyeballs is what Google does best.

So what if Google isn't stepping into the ring to go head-to-head with the likes of Apple or RIM? Instead, it's taking lessons from Microsoft's Windows Mobile strategy to a new level. Build the brain power but let others massage it, morph it and put some muscle behind it. Then, this new army of Google-powered phones can jump into the ring and gang up on the likes of Apple and RIM.

Where does that leave Google in this smartphone wrestling match? Why, standing at the ticket booth, of course, collecting all the money and taking it straight to the bank.

Topics: Smartphones, Apple, Google, Hardware, Mobility, BlackBerry

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11 comments
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  • Very good points. Google does not have to make a penny on the OS, and will

    help drive the cost of mobile internet devices as low as possible. Price sells, and we will eventually see some pretty cheap and pretty amazing phones.
    DonnieBoy
  • Haha! Excellent Summation of Google's Strategy

    They're doing the same with Chrome, in a way.

    I hope the G1 is a huge commercial success. Between Apple
    and Google, we are seeing an amazing amount of innovation
    in the "mobile computing device (formerly cell phone)" arena.
    Marcos El Malo
  • The problem with Android is tha same as with any Linux

    And that is the profiliation of multiple platforms, none of which work the same. Developers more than anything need a SINGLE platform to develop against and its why the IPhone is attractive to them.

    As much as it will bring on the flamers, its the same problem of having multiple linux distros for PCs. You can't count on needed libraries being in place, being in the same place, or even existing in a specific distro.
    No_Ax_to_Grind
    • I don't know...

      Hmmm...

      1. Desktop Linux distributions rarely come pre-installed on hardware and so their adoption is almost entirely pushed by a community of programmers (developers).

      2. The lack of any "default" Linux distribution on the desktop, I think is largely due to the fact that no single distribution has been pushed by the industry as a standard.

      3. If you run Ubuntu on your desktop, you are pretty much set. It has repositories that provides most free software available and whatever software you need to download from websites often has an Ubuntu supported version available. So, I don't think the profilation of multiple versions is as big of a problem as people wish to suggest.

      4. Any 'fork' of the Android operating system that deviates enough from the official version as to break software compatibility will, because of this, be less desirable for the consumer.

      5. Custom Android version could be created and used in devices where the user is not expected to download and install third-party applications. In this scenario, incompatibility is not a problem.

      6. Consider that hardware vendors such as Dell and HP do in fact alter the copies of Windows they pre-install on their desktop by adding software on their own (even though Windows is proprietary). If any of their alterations caused the computer to be incompatible with current Windows software, they would get consumer complaints and a bad reputation.

      7. There already is more than one version of the iPhone, one with GPS and one without. As more models of the phone are released, adding more hardware features, higher resolution, a more powerful processor, there will be more variation in the platform. Some iPhone software will not run on your iPhone just as some Android software will not run on my Android device.

      As I see it, there doesn't seem to be any lack of developers willing to write for the Android platform.
      Theli
      • What is "profilation?"

        Do you mean proliferation?
        tikigawd
    • Then there is no problem.

      There have not been to many complaints about developing Linux software that works across multiple distributions. Its funny you here this argument from Linux nay sayers but never from anyone developing Linux software.

      Plain and simple to write for Android you write Java. Theres no difference in platform etc. You write Java and use the added Android specific API's and thats it. The IPhone attracted developers because it was the only device of its kind. It had nothing to do with any single platform. But amazingly I see some apps have been added to the Android App Market since I first activated my G1 this morning so someone must be attracted to this platform as well. But as I understand it the App Market has not even been opened up to everyone to submit applications yet.
      storm14k
    • Two Different Worlds: PC and Mobile

      On PC's yes this is true. But in the embedded device World,
      things are far different. It all started when OpenGL was
      managed by SIG and they were having problems. So manufacturers
      of embedded devices wanted the ability to manufacture many
      devices that all worked under one set of API's contrary to what
      Microsoft advocate with it's closed proprietary market
      strategy. They formed Khronos Group that took over the
      management of OpenGL giving relief to SGI and spreading the
      responsibility out over many co-operative partners.

      Included as contributing members were companies like IBM, Sony,
      Intel, Nvidia, Nokia, STI, AMD/ATI, and includes hundreds more
      like Google and Apple. The mobile or embedded device market are
      now the fastest growing industry in the Consumer Electronics
      Market. All running on a revised, and completely re-engineered
      OpenGL ES specifically for embedded devices. It is now the
      widest distributed set of API's in the World EVER!!!

      Some of these new API's have been designed to make cross
      platform programming drag n drop simple. It's done with a new
      Java based Object Oriented API Driver Base called OpenKODE. It
      means with applications that are coded using it, they will be
      installable on any of the Khronos Group Participating Members
      Devices. Not only that, but they will be able to be dropped
      into any OS using any API. That includes DX9, DX10 and all
      OpenGL from ES to Full Standard as long as the hardware
      supports it.

      Now with Nokia taking Simbian to Open Source and Google buying
      Android Development, a group of Cell Service Providers,
      manufactures, etc has formed OHA. Open Handset Alliance. Look
      at this list and you will see names of companies that we don't
      go a day without using something from them, many times!!!

      http://www.openhandsetalliance.com/oha_members.html

      This is exactly what you are talking about. This is the single
      platform alliance getting together to form a single platform
      that will run under multiple Operating Systems on multiple
      pieces or hardware designed and built by multiple companies!

      Some form of Unix/Linux derived OS is what powers the
      overwhelming majority of mobile embedded devices today!

      So all those companies stand to benefit by eliminating the
      major hurtles to Cross Platform Interoperability and creating
      Android along with Khronos Group OpenGL ES, OpenVG, OpenSL,
      OpenKODE, OpenMAX and mobile and embedded devices have just
      leaped bounds over the Closed Proprietary Environment sponsored
      by MS's once dominant Power now only on PC's that number less
      than half the Cell Phones in the World!

      Today we have the ultimate winner sponsored by almost every
      major player in the mobile embedded device market. The Ultimate
      Winner will no doubt be sponsoring Open Source of some type!

      Who WINS? We do! Because now we have competitors working
      together, when before they only worked for Microsoft, not even
      for themselves and to spread it's dominance. Today Open Source
      is becoming the dominant player because it levels the playing
      field and makes it so the competition is now going to be on the
      Devices and Services provided. Instead of spending our money
      divided up among many competing platforms and projects, they've
      decided to pool their resources to provide all of them with a
      system that runs on everything. The smartest business move of
      the century is in forming these joint ventures that force
      products and services to stand on their own merits!!! ;)
      i2fun@...
  • Initiate Loverock script:

    Bah, Google EVIL... yadda yadda... office toys... yadda yadda... EULA... pout.

    There, no need for Loverock to post anything.
    subl33t
  • RE: T-Mobile G1 arrives. Not quite a Google vs. Apple battle

    I checked 2 T-Mobile stores today and didn't see any line outside actually inside the stores wasn't pack either.
    bulky design and smaller screen size and no ear phone jack washed up the whole Bang, an no apple geniuses (Customer Support) behind the product. Verses no customer service from HTC and no technical service either makes it hard to compete
    daveazadi
  • RE: T-Mobile G1 arrives. Not quite a Google vs. Apple battle

    I have two concerns, if you purchase the "device" what stops people from 1)developing viruses only to develop anti-virus programs (not considering the idiots out there making viruses because they have nothing better to do) and 2)since google is heavily into advertising how will owners prevent ads from appearing on their devices? I like the concept of open source but in this electronic age is "open" really a good thing, I guess time will tell.
    jag11727
    • Thinking the Same Thing

      Regarding your second point, I was thinking the same thing. That is, if the source is open, wouldn't people modify it to block/prevent ads from appearing?

      If I was going to use one of the devices that used this code, I would certainly want a version that blocked ads. In practice, I wonder if it will work out that way or if there are other factors that would reduce the likelihood of that occurring.
      Bob C User