NEW YORK--Having just attended the launch of the T-Mobile G1 smart phone, based on Google's Android open-source mobile operating software stack, I have to say I'm a bit torn.
On one hand, the event, which featured Android creator Andy Rubin, executives from T-Mobile USA, Deutsche Telekom, and HTC, was significant because it showed that Google made good on its November 2007 pledge to get Android in a phone before 2009.
On the other hand, sadly, it's just another smart phone. Check out pictures from the event here.
Google co-founders--those $30 Billion Wonder Twins --Larry Page and Sergey Brin rolled in on roller blades toward the end of the launch this morning at Guastavino's on 59th, which is nestled underneath a bridge.
While it's tempting to think their appearance was staged to highlight Google's definitive entrance into the mobile OS market, they had actually just come from the launch of Google's Transit feature on Google Maps today.
This was just a double dipper. Page and Brin must have been tuckered out from the Transit launch because neither had much to add to the event in terms of content. No matter, their presence at the launch together spoke volumes.
But when I saw the demo of the phone, other than the compass feature for Google Maps Street View, which provides a 360-degree view of the G1 user as they move the phone around, I was disappointed.
I didn't see anything game-changing. The touch-screen had some attendees crying "iPhone copycat!" while the slideout screen had others declaring the G1 a new Sidekick.
After playing around with it, I thought the speedy search in the WebKit-based browser was impressive, as was the ability to switch between applications.
Then again, we've already seen what Google could do leveraging the open-source WebKit with its Chrome Web browser, so it came as no surprise that Chrome Lite, as Rubin called it, would facilitate information so rapidly.
I'm sorry, am I missing anything here? It's not like I expected to jump off the exhibition table and do the tango. But the G1, to my eyes and hands, is just another smart phone, an iPhone with a nice keyboard.
I invite T-Mobile, Google or anyone for that matter to prove me wrong.