Posted tagged ‘G1’

Should Apple worry about iPhone competition?

June 3, 2009

Wired ran this story, “Why Apple Can Afford to Phone It In With the Next iPhone.” It basically reads that the next iPhone, expected to be announced next week, will likely be a minor upgrade. Of course this is all based upon rumors, but as much as Apple tries to be secret typically the rumors aren’t that far off. Aside from the fact that this is all based upon rumors I am inclined to agree with the analysis with one word of caution.

Recently I have been writing about the Android rumors. I really am excited about it, but I have mentioned that my excitement is when they mature and that this is a good indication of what will be when my current iPhone contract runs out. Let me back up. When the iPhone first released the blogs were all abuzz and people lined up for days to get their hands on the first, worthless IMO, iPhone iteration. I largely ignored the first iPhone, not because I didn’t see the bright future, exactly the opposite, but because I knew the future held much more promise than their first release. Apple tested the waters and they were good. So good that they quickly released the iPhone 3g. It was at that point that the hardware was complete enough, though they could have done much better, and the software was complete enough, app store anyone, to grab my attention. Indeed, with that launch Apple sealed their prominence that every other hardware maker aspires to have now. But what this shows is that everyone must go through the growing pains. When Apple released the original iPhone they probably never imagined that the app store would take off like it did. They may not have imagined how people would eventually use or want to use the hardware. The initial released was the baby stage for what would blossom into a powerful teenager. It was and is at this point that I decided it was ready for my use, and it has proven up to the task. With the release of version 3.0 of the software Apple will finally mature the iPhone into adulthood. Where we are now with all other smart phones (Palm pre, G1, Android, Storm) is still infancy. It took Apple over a year for each stage to mature so it only makes sense that all others would follow a similar path to maturity if not slower. So as I see it Apple owns the smart phone market. All other competitors fail on multiple levels, but not for lack of trying. In this way the Wired author is correct. Apple can release a minor upgrade to the iPhone and not worry about losing market prominence or superiority.

With all that said my word of caution is this. Now that Apple is an adult it stands out from the rest, but it is now perched on a ledge waiting to be pushed off. Like I said all the other competitors are still in infancy, but they are showing good signs for quick maturation. For Android there is already a robust API it just needs better hardware. Palm Pre could shake up the industry, but as of yet hasn’t launched, and will likely face problems being tethered to Sprint. The Storm with all of its hardware advantages loses on apps and development platform. These are the same problems Apple faced and overcame. They may have made it look easy, but soon enough competitors will figure things out. Just give them time. Apple may not need to launch a hot new iPhone this time around, but they better have something good coming or else they may find themselves mediocre, compared to the competition, in the not so distant future.

This is why I am so optimistic. There are so many uses for smart phones. I don’t know that I could ever go back, but I am not sold on Apple or the iPhone. Right now I think I purchased the best there is, but the horizon looks good for some serious competition once it is time to upgrade.

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Phones, Phones and more Phones

February 18, 2009

I like to discuss phone technology. I believe we are at a point in time where the price for data plans is low enough and the need for phones to do more than just dial a phone call has been reached. I think the iPhone has played a significant role on both fronts. First they created a phone that allowed people to do all the things they could possibly dream of doing and secondly got, at least ATT, cell phone carriers to create data plans that were affordable and virtually unlimited. Now you know that I settled on the iPhone after seeing the G1. Deep down I really would rather have a more open/opensource phone, but wasn’t too pleased with the G1’s first offering. Now it seems that there are more competitors coming to the market.

First there is now a second Android smartphone announced. One of my problems with the G1 was that it was boxy and ugly, not that I require the sexiest phone out there, but hey wouldn’t it be nice? This Android phone looks to fix some of those problems. Beyond that details are sparse, but as far as the OS goes Google seems to be picking up the pace a little bit. Actually if you take the time to look there are some very cool apps for Android that won’t work on the iPhone, but so far nothing that would justify a switch.

The second phone is the Palm Pre. This phone has been the source of some major buzz, partly because it looks and works about as sexy as Apple’s iPhone, but also because it utilizes the touch interface Apple has been threatening lawsuits. Details are now emerging including the fact that the OS is based upon Linux. The application framework looks to be pretty sleek as well. All in all I look forward to the launch of this phone and hope that Palm’s app store will be a little more open than Apple’s.

Still no word about when the Palm Pre will be released or by what carrier, and the second Android looks to be in Europe right now, but it shouldn’t be too long before there are some very inspiring choices here in the states for smartphones. I’ll keep you posted on my findings. I am still hoping to get my hands on a G1 before too long.

iPhone and Google’s G1 Compared

February 2, 2009

There are a few G1s roaming around my work. I am hoping to get my hands on one soon and right a personal comparison. We’ll see if that actually happens. In the mean time Ars has a good run down of the iPhone vs. G1.

When I started looking for a replacement to my old phone (a Moto Razr) I knew I was finally ready for a phone to do more than just make phone calls. I think before I was a little nervous about data limits and the high cost of such data plans. The iPhone started to erode the low limits and the high cost of data plans across the board. I also started to realize the value, given my recent move to the city, of having a phone that can do more than just make phone calls. Not that I would choose to do this by default, but I have the ability to log into any machine I support at work from my iPhone. That can come in handy if I am away from the desk and get a page for a broken service and such. So the time came to figure out what I wanted to get. The two major choices for me were the iPhone and the G1. On principle my default would be G1. I like the fact that it is an open source project and I have warm feelings towards Google. I was happy that the G1 launched before I purchased my iPhone. My decision logic went something like this. When Apple first released the iPhone the hardware, software, and third party apps were all a little rough around the edges (Apple hadn’t released the SDK yet, and no 3G). It took version 2 of the iPhone to fix most of that, and now the iPhone has one of the largest app stores you can imagine. 3G is now included and the phone has a very polished look and feel. That is not to say that the iPhone is the perfect phone in my mind. First off is vendor lock-in, and secondly they clearly have left off functionality. I would love to see an SD slot, the camera phone is horrible, multi-functional software would be nice as well, and finally a better keyboard experience (though I don’t require a hard keyboard).

G1 fixes most of the problems I have with the iPhone, but looses on a lot of the other aspects. I feel like the hardware is an ugly mess, the software is half baked, and third party apps are just starting to take hold. That isn’t to say that the G1 is a bad phone. Now that I have finally seen one in action it is quite compelling, but it isn’t an iPhone just yet. I hope, and am pretty confident, that one day it will be everything the iPhone is, and more, but that day is certainly not today. It took Apple more than a year to get the iPhone as good as it is, and the G1 has only been out for a few months so we just need to give it time. Since I was in the market for a phone immediately, and most of the drawbacks to the iPhone weren’t that bad to me, I decided to go with the iPhone. My hope is that by the time my current iPhone is about to crap out there will be several compelling Google Android phones to choose from, and perhaps even other choices that haven’t yet emerged.

So just as Ars concluded the iPhone barely wins out over G1. If you are looking to buy now go for it, but if your target purchase date is after Spring I would wait. First, Apple will likely come out with a slight variation of the iPhone sometime in the summer, and secondly, perhaps we’ll see more Google Android phones coming to the market. Exciting times.

Free Your Phone

January 30, 2009

In the cell phone market vendors in the US pride themselves on having the best handsets. Have you noticed that Verizon doesn’t have any of the phones that ATT does? There are many reasons for this, most likely is exclusive handset deals (iPhone being one of the biggest, but even the Moto Razr was exclusive when it was first released). As a result of these deals cell phone companies will lock down the product preventing you from taking the phone to another competitor. As part of this eco system most cell phones are made specifically for the cell provider (so the Moto Razr that ATT carries is different than Verizon). Cell phone carriers like to have full and ultimate control over the phones, what they can do, what can be added, who can do the adding. On the surface this isn’t always bad, if they allowed just any software or hardware on their network they open themselves up to problems which could ruin the customers experience (imagine if a virus started going around rendering every phone on a network dead, or if someone did something, by accident, that rendered the network useless). However, what is happening now is vendor lock-in or control that reaches beyond just safety and user experience. Note the EFF’s point from their new campaign called Free Your Phone:

* Apple uses software locks on the iPhone to censor ebooks and block mobile applications that would compete with Apple’s own software.
* T-Mobile’s software locks prevent owners from gaining root access to the Google Android G1 phone, needlessly limiting the phone’s bluetooth and other capabilities.
* And virtually every mobile device sold today is locked to a single telecommunications carrier.

Apple has given millions of users a virtually flawless user experience with thousands of apps and much functionality, but while all that is to be commended they also have a strict vendor lock-in and have become the gatekeepers to what is or isn’t allowed on your phone. Take Flash as an example. Thousands of websites use it and it certainly seems innocuous to allow Adobe to create an iPhone version, but Apple simply doesn’t allow it. Another example of Apple censorship was humorously noted by ars. In the article ars points out several apps that are lewd or even offensive that Apple allows and several that should clearly be fine that Apple mysteriously bans. In the end I think we should be able to make up our minds for ourselves.

Google shook the world when it announced its Android product. The world has been waiting for a truly open mobile phone. I for one would welcome it, but as you can see while Android may be open T-Mobile has purposefully limited it.

The United States needs to learn from other countries where cell networks are totally open. How do we shop for cell phones? We usually choose a carrier first and choose from their phones. In China, as well as most Asian countries, it is the exact opposite. You choose your phone first and worry about a carrier later. That is because it doesn’t matter over there. As long as the phone is compatible with the wireless company they’ll allow it on their network. And there there is no vendor lock-in: don’t like your carrier? switch all you have to do is change sim cards. It is not unlike how the internet or PC market is geared. With the internet as long as you have a network card and a valid IP address/gateway you are good to access the contents of the internet (it doesn’t matter who made it or where you purchased). In the PC market you are allowed to download and install any software you want, including some you may not want. Hopefully one day we will be there in the US, in the mean time head over to the EFF’s Free Your Phone website and sign the petition.