It's rumble-in-the-jungle time for Apple, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft in the quest for extending their computer and Web dominance to mobile. Google launched their first mobile phone. Named the Google G1, it is positioned to compete with Apple's iPhone and RIM's BlackBerry. However, there are key differences in features and functionality that will influence T-Mobile customers in the United States and Europe to upgrade or entice others to switch carriers. The handset is the first of several expected to use Google's phone operating system, called Android.
Android has several other key advantages over the iPhone operating system. While Apple takes a top-down approach to app development - the company must approve every program that makes it into its App Store - Google will allow creators to upload any application to the Android Market without its review. The phone has a 3.2in touch screen, like Apple's hugely popular iPhone, as well as a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. It offers high-speed internet access via the 3G phone network, as well as via Wi-Fi.
The phone comes preloaded with Search, Maps, Gmail with Contacts, Calendar, Google Talk, and YouTube. Also, unlike the iPhone, the G1 will not work with Microsoft Exchange nor can it be physically synced with computer-based calendar or contacts such as Microsoft Outlook. Those differences alone mean that the G1 won't scare the Apple and BlackBerry dogs in the game. Seamless interfacing between mobile and traditional communications and database features is a key requirement for travelling executives. The G1 needs to bridge that gap. The G1 will allow users to access webmail (Google's Gmail) and surf the net. This will allow Google to increase advertising revenues, as it could potentially start to dominate the mobile advertising market in the same way that its AdWords program dominates internet advertising.
A Google's opinion using a Mobile Phone today "does not just mean a phone call, but rather access to the world's information" and that mobiles will be one of the most important ways to connect to the internet in future. The phone may represent a threat to Apple's iPhone, iPod and iTunes, as with a Google G1 you can download digital music from amazon.com. As a result, about six million tracks will be available on the G1 at the touch of a button.
Unlike the iPhone, Google has allowed developers to create free software for the handset. Although Apple does let consumers download extra software, it is tightly controlled and many applications must be paid for it. The G1 will be available free to customers signing up for T-Mobile's £40 plus tariffs, which include unlimited data for web surfing.
On the flipside, where would-be competitors release a handful of predictable, often crippled products and services a few times a year - hi Nokia, bye Yahoo - Google floods market space with radical new value propositions, overloading the very circuitry of the industry - still driven by fear of cannibalization - and so short-circuiting the traditional dynamics of competition.
Analysts are skeptical whether the G1 can make an instant dent in the iPhone's market dominance, but predict that the platform has plenty of future potential. The G1 represents a promising start and Google has pockets deep enough to outspend and compete with its competitors. While the G1 isn't yet good enough to outperform the iPhone, the Android platform shows huge early promise.
Samsung and LG are already talking about designing something on the footsteps of the Google G1 mobile phone. The future of the phone relies heavily on the creativity of programmers who will use the android platform to offer new and powerful functions.
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