Now that the T-Mobile G1 smart phone's red-hot hype has faded like summer, it's time to see how experts in the industry are receiving the gadget.
Some things we know for certain. The G1, the first gadget built on top of Google's Android mobile operating system, costs $179 a pop for a two-year contract from T-Mobile.
The G1 has a touch screen, full keyboard and track ball for navigation. The phone has a speedy Web browser via Webkit and easy switching between applications. An application for downloading Amazon MP3 tracks is included and there are a litany of apps in the Android Market to choose from.
However, experts and analysts in the mobile market have other questions and suggestions.
Click Here For Pictures of the T-Mobile G1 Launch
Morgan Gillis, executive director of the LiMo Foundation, which also makes a Linux-based OS and pumped out 23 phones in the last several months, repeated the same questions he's had since Google unveiled Android last November. Gillis wants to know:Which services will be made available to mobile consumers on Google Android handsets but not on other open mobile handsets? Will G1 users have an open and free choice about whether or not they subscribe to Google's services?Fair questions. To use G1, you need to be a Google Web service user because the gadget is tied to Google Search, Talk, YouTube, Gmail, Maps and other usual Google suspects. This would seem to be antithetical to the objective of an operating system based on open-source software such as Linux, so I understand Gillis' concerns.Still, Google Android creator Andy Rubin, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and others at the search engine like to tout Android's openness as a differentiator from other smart phones, coyly thumbing their noses at Apple.But IDC analyst Shiv Bakhshi wrote in a research note that it's possible to overrate the merits of openness.At the end of the day, technology needs standards to lower transactional costs, and for interoperability. A rather democratic approach to the operating system - which may allow device vendors to tweak it in their own image, could well raise costs for developers.My feeling is Google ultimately won't discriminate what services run on what phones it provides because it won't want to alienate users. While the G1 supports Microsoft Word and Excel files, the G1 lacks Microsoft Exchange support, making it the least likely smart phone candidate for enterprise adoption. This will need to change.