Unless you live in a dark damp cave somewhere you’re aware of the launch what mainstream press calls the t-mobile google phone. This really is three different things. The first, the hardware, is obvious and less important as it’s just the first of supposedly many models. It’s a fairly normal HTC phone, seems interesting except the brain fart called ExtUSB but I’m holding out my vote till I have a chance to try the keyboard. It noticeably lacks multitouch and video conf camera.
The second part is, it’s a T-Mo phone and it’s crippled like a T-Mo phone. No Bluetooth OBEX so no chance in hell of easy syncing for 3rd party apps, file transfer or internet sharing. Yes, teetering is only important in the boonies, cool kids dial up their HSDPA over bluetooth. I won’t even go into plans but the $399 no-contract option is well in line with market prices so no big surprises there.
The third part is Android itself. The interface is snappy enough and while quite a lot of people noticed the T-Mo promotional stuff is photoshoped together and shows a wildly inconsistent UI I believe the real live UI is better (from the emulator) and can be ironed out easily over the air. The G1 lacks multitouch and I’m not exactly sure how the UI will incorporate those events in the future (I’m really not an Android expert, I bet google knows how that will work). A well debated sore spot for Android is lack of business environment type functionality like good MSOffice format support and MSExchange connectors. There it’s being beat hard by iPhone and steamrolled (by sheer scale) by Nokia and Google says that bit will be filled by 3rd party. I’m not sure how well that will work (it will surely bring developers in) but I’m sure Google doesn’t really care about that. What Google cares about is moving people into googleplex and truth is if your company uses google hosted apps you get an Android and it just works. No MobileMe snafus, no Exchange weirdness, it just works on a level that didn’t exist before. The main feature it lacks is split personality, the possibility of having a corporate hosted account and a personal gmail account in parallel. Nothing more annoying than not being able to go off the clock.
A rather underplayed point is Android is the beginning of the end of traditional telcos and phone numbers. SMS is legacy, instant messaging is in. My guess is circuit switched calls are next.
But the punch line here is, the T-Mobile G1 is not the Google Phone. There will be no Google Phone on the US market in the foreseeable future simply cause the US market doesn’t allow for a really interesting iPhone or a truly open GPhone. If Google wants to do a real GPhone it has two paths. One is bringing it to Europe, setting up a production chain with HTC, setting up a retail channel with a large chain like PhoneHouse or a carrier like Vodafone and have a lot more control over the the final product. The other is using all that spectrum effort to good use and start it’s own mobile carrier (mvno, 700MHz, whatever) in the US.