Google cofounder Larry Page brought his shaggy, salt-and-pepper mop to the Dirksen office building in Washington, D.C. to complain to federal regulators about television broadcasters. Google wants access to the dead air between television stations for wireless devices like the new G1 phone from T-Mobile running Google's Android operating system. But an odd alliance of broadcasters and wireless microphone manufacturers oppose opening up the "white spaces" due to concerns over radio frequency interference. Referring to FCC tests held at FedEx Field, home of the Washington Redskins, Page declared:
The technoblogomemesphere erupted in derision when T-Mobile's plans for a one-gigabyte monthly cap on bandwidth for the new HTC phone running Google's Android OS emerged. Customers who exceeded the limit would have seen their speeds reduced by a factor of 20. Anyone who wanted to listen to Internet radio or browse YouTube while on the bus with the gadget would have quickly run up against the limit. T-Mobile now promises to lift the cap and use a different, but as yet unknown, "network management practice" to keep the system from getting clogged. "We reserve the right to temporarily reduce data throughput for a small fraction of our customers who have excessive or disproportionate usage," the company maintains. Now the only thing standing in the way of you browsing to your heart's content is T-Mobile crappy coverage and no 3G network service outside of a few major markets. (Photo by Luis Alberto Arjona Chin)
My heart goes out to MySpace employee Ulf Waschbusch, who used to be a product marketing manager for Google Mobile and therefore saw the company's Android phone in its early stages. "The reason many people see the G1 as ugly and old-fashioned is simply … because it IS!" he blogged yesterday. "It’s a design unchanged for a while." Waschbusch will spend the next month fending off accusations that he's a bitter ex-employee too short on Ph.D's to grasp the Googley beauty of the G1. Ulf, it's ok, you can come sit at our lunch table. But since you keep re-editing your post in hopes of softening the blows, here's your original text:
The coming iPhone-vs.-Android fight will be drawn along clear lines: Keyboard versus touchscreen. And for phone applications, open bazaar versus walled garden. While Google talks up the openness of its platform, Apple keeps plugging leaks through which iPhone app developers can thwart Apple's ruthless management of its App Store. The latest: Podcaster app developer Alamerica had been rejected by Apple. Someone at Alamerica figured out a workaround: They could hand out ad hoc licenses — meant for development and testing — in return for a $10 donation.Not only did it end-run the App Store, it cut Apple out of its 30 percent take on the fee. No more, though. Apple has shut down access to the ad hoc license system. I wouldn't go so far as to claim Apple's iron-fist approach will cause consumers to switch phones. But there's an obvious angle for Google: Play up the goofy apps like Pull My Finger that Steve Jobs wouldn't touch. Because if you've ever watched a bunch of drunk twentysomethings playing with their phones in a nightclub, you know that stupid and entertaining often beats pretty and functional.
Just in time for the announcement by T-Mobile of the first publicly available mobile phone running Google's new Android operating system comes word that Microsoft will be delaying the release of Windows Mobile 7 for at least another six months. The new version of the software was supposed to be released shortly after the new year won't be available until at least the second half of 2009. [News.com]
T-Mobile today launched the G1, the first phone loaded with Google's mobile operating system, Android. (Just don't call it a "Googlephone"!) Google cofounders Sergey Brin and Larry Page showed up late to the press conference and Brin began his speech with an excuse: "We had to rush here a little bit today from the Google Transit launch, and, uh, you know with all the streets being shut down and all, I don't think wheels were the best way to go." The pair winged it from there on.Brin told the crowd how tinkering with the G1 gives him pleasure: "It's just very exciting for me as a computer geek to have a phone I can play with and modify." Page mostly stood there with a silly grin on his face. Contrast the willy-nilly performance with Apple CEO Steve Jobs's meticulously planned iPhone announcements. It serves as a convenient illustration of the differences between the Apple's mobile strategy and Google's. Apple's iPhone offers millions of consumers a simple, structured experience — just as Jobs's bullet-point keynotes focus on marketable sound bites. The G1 is an open, developer-friendly phone that — like Brin and Page's slapdash appearance — thousands of geeks will appreciate and few consumers will bother to decipher.
T-Mobile and Google executives will gather in New York on September 23 to to launch the HTC Dream, the first phone loaded with Google's mobile operating system Android to hit the market. Skeptics, such as ZDNet's Dana Blankenhorn, say the Dream won't be a "real" Android phone. Why the quibble?"It is still just a phone running on a fourth-placed proprietary network," writes Blankenhorn. He says Google won't realize its full vision for Android — "a handheld Internet client running on a true broadband network" — until Clearwire finishes building a new wireless broadband network, backed in part by Google's money. That's supposed to happen by next year, but even Clearwire CEO Ben Wolf is skeptical: "They say the middle of next year. I'll believe it when I see it." Notice how no one's talking about whether the Dream is actually fun to use?
That traffic jam around the Moscone Center in dowtown San Francisco is the CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment trade show. T-Mobile used the event to announce a sort-of-Apple-like app store that will split revenues at least 50/50 with application makers. But T-Mob's new developer community won't support app makers using Google's Android operating system. These things are always subject to change, but CTIA would have been the place to at least announce plans for Android apps. Google's open-source phone is looking less like the new iPhone and more like the new Linux laptop. (Photo by Gizmodo)
The Financial Times's has published an article on T-Mobile's soon-to-be-released Googlephone. It paints an accurate picture, if not a pretty one: "When the first of Google’s long-anticipated Android mobile phones hit the stores in a matter of weeks, they will land with a fizzle rather than a bang." We can just imagine the lunchtime whispers at the Googleplex about it. Readymade for lunchtime consumption, here are the paranoid programmers' talking points on the anti-Google media conspiracy:
Don't call it an app store — it's an open content distribution system. Android Market will be Google's version of the iPhone App Store. A PR-speak description of the site emphasizes that posting apps for sale will be a lot like uploading videos to YouTube. But with iPhone app developers already posing as punk-rock heroes, how much more developer-friendly does Google really need to be?A screenshot from the not-yet-launched store seems designed to appeal to wonky coders, not the mass market of non-technical buyers Google will need to attract. My guess: Google will fall all over themselves insisting it's all about developers and Freedom, until the store is ready for launch. Then they'll shove ZeDev Tools and Murderdrome aside for Bingo and FlipBook. At least with a YouTube-like rating system, there's a chance of surprise hits that aren't chosen by app store curators with a canned idea of what a smartphone is for.
Google's mobile OS Android might have a future in "set-top boxes for televisions, mp3 players and other communication and media devices and services," reports VentureBeat. Silicon Alley Insider confirms the story — or at least the fact that Google's working on Android-loaded cable boxes — and wonders if maybe Google will move them as a part of its partnership with Clearwire. None of this will happen anytime soon, of course.The first Android-loaded phone — the HTC dream, to run on the T-Mobile network — isn't due out until October. It's not certain that when that device does come out that Android will be much to look at. Ever since Google released its last software developement kit only to the first 50 winners of its Android Developer Challenge, the jealous rest of the third-party developers building apps for the OS continue to trash the system's prospects in the press.
The HTC Dream, the first fruit of Google's foray into mobile phones, will be available for preorder from T-Mobile during a one-week window starting September 17. The artificial time scarcity seems designed to create iPhone-like hype. And perhaps the Dream will succeed at that. At $150 along with a two-year contract and a new, probably more expensive, unlimited data plan, this is the first wireless device I've seen that looks like real iPhone competition. Sure, it has Google's Android operating system, a touch screen and 3G speeds, but it also has a keyboard. And it's from HTC, the Taiwanese handset manufacturer that makes really nice phones — mostly for Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system until now. But just like the iPhone, the don't-call-it-a-Googlephone won't really bust up the carrier-handset-operating-system industrial complex that has long bedeviled the mobile market.I recently purchased the HTC Dash, right before the California Supreme Court struck down as illegal early contract termination fees — otherwise, I might have gone and signed up for an iPhone myself. But I love the Dash since it, too, has real buttons and is slim enough not to disrupt the hang of a jacket. Even at over a year old (which is about 35 in Hollywood actress years), it's still selling well despite two major drawbacks: Windows Mobile and T-Mobile. Similarly, the iPhone is locked to Apple and AT&T. Want an application? You'll have to buy it from the App Store via iTunes. Want a different carrier? Tough noogies. Apple didn't so much break the lock between handset manufacturers and carriers as much as they inserted themselves as a third gatekeeper. While HTC has close ties to Microsoft — its U.S. offices are based in Seattle, and veteran Windows Mobile developers work at the company — the phone maker won't be leaving Microsoft country. It's just applying for dual citizenship in Mountain View. Dream buyers will be locked to buying T-Mobile voice and data plans, regardless. While customers wait, the current release is likely off in Germany somewhere being larded up with crappy default applications from Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile's parent, which clings to a desperate Teutonic hope you might be dumb enough to continue using its T-Zones wireless services, baked into every T-Mobile phone. Google's and Apple's entry into wireless just means that lock-in is getting extended from our phones to the desktop. Getting Windows Mobile to sync with my iTunes on my MacBook and Google Calendar and email was a project that took an entire evening. It still doesn't work over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. My father, who took one look at my phone after losing his own and bought one, had no difficulty synching his Outlook contacts and Hotmail account with his Windows PC. Any bets on how easy it will be to sync a phone running Android with Yahoo Mail or iTunes? So if you dream of buying a handset based on its hardware features, then picking an operating system to run on it, and then choosing a wireless carrier which works well in your neighborhood, keep dreaming. Google would rather join the wireless club, and lock you into its own set of services. The Googlephone promised to set us free, and the Dream looks beautiful — but it's just another cell phone.
The first mobile device to hit the market running Google's mobile operating system, Android, will be the HTC Dream and TmoNews.com claims its landed a leaked video of the device in action. We've embedded it below. The Android Guys blog says the device in the video reminds them of the device Google used to demonstrate Android to the BBC back in February. We've embedded that video below as well. Viewing both clips, its obvious both the device and its operating system are pretty slick, but will the companies be able to create an ad campaign that makes us feel like we are both among, apart from, and above the crowd: a new soul in this strange world, come to learn a bit about how to give and take? If yes, then maybe we're interested.The leaked video of HTC's "The Dream":
Jake Orion, the Sprint engineer in charge of Android development who mixed honest criticism with cautious optimism for Google's Android device in an interview he gave AndroidGuys.com earlier this week, has, under pressure, backed down from his comments and demanded that AndroidGuys take down his interview.
Jake Orion, the guy in charge of Android development at Sprint, says that while "Google’s confidence, vision and self assurance are refreshing and innovative," Google needs to " to appreciate and address industry fundamentals more pragmatically." Specifically, Orion told AndroidGuys.com Google needs "a more proactive and direct linkage to the carrier’s network and service requirement" — which we think means Google hasn't yet made Android friendly to how Sprint runs its network. Details, details! Who needs to worry about that when you're busy being self-assured and confident?
Finland mobile device maker Nokia will acquire the 52 percent of mobile operating system-maker Symbian it didn't already own from private investors Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB, Sweden's Telefon AB L.M. Ericsson, Panasonic Mobile Communications Co. and Siemens AG for $410 million. Nokia plans to turn the Symbian operating system into an open source software platform to rival Google's Android and Apple's iPhone OS X software. Symbian's 1,000 developers will join Nokia as employees and Symbian itself will continue as a non-profit foundation responsible for marketing the OS.
Last fall, Google said third-party devices sporting its Android mobile OS would hit the market by the second half of 2008. With that deadline approaching, Google now says the fourth quarter is more realistic. Even that's pushing it, say the device makers. Sprint won't release a phone scheduled for this year until 2009 and the same goes for China Mobile, which planned a phone release for the third quarter. "This is where the pain happens," Google's director of mobile platforms Andy Rubin told the Wall Street Journal. "We are very, very close." Phone makers and Android app developers don't believe it, telling the Journal its too hard to build on Android while Google keeps changing it. Google's plan is to own the mobile platform the way Microsoft owned the PC. Who knew the Mountain View crew would skip straight to Vista? (Photo by traviscrawford)
Keep your friends close, and your enemies on your board of directors. That seems to be the rationale for Google CEO Eric Schmidt's continued presence in Apple's boardroom. Despite a promised rain of would-be iPhone killers powered by Google's Android operating system coming later this year, Schmidt said he's only had to excuse himself from board meetings "once or twice." (Photo by Steve Jurvetson)