On Sept. 17 I published a piece in which I wondered whether or not the T-Mobile Dream, the first phone based on Google’s Android operating system, would sell as many copies as the first iPhone did in the same amount of time.
The Dream, which is being unveiled Sept. 23 at an event in New York, is expected to hit stores Oct. 20. HTC reportedly expects there to have been 600,000 to 700,000 Dream units shipped by 2009, some 70-plus days after the launch.
Apple’s overnight-sensation iPhone shipped 1 million units in 74 days. I argued that the Dream could do the same, thanks to sheer hype and word of mouth.
eWEEK readers have made it abundantly clear that I’m out of line, citing factors such as Google’s lack of experience in the mobile space and lack of marketing chops, as well as a lack of additional carriers and even T-mobile’s “coverage issues.” Ouch.
In fact, most readers said, the Dream will be a nonentity for nongeeks. This is perhaps the biggest condemnation, because it means that the consumers Google and T-Mobile are targeting with the Dream won’t bat a lash at it, unlike the Apple lovers who go ga-ga for anything iPhone.
Reader Richard wrote Sept. 19: “Honestly, I don’t know anyone outside of a few gadget lovers and IT pros who have any idea what Android even is. My 82-year-old mom knows what an iPhone is. It will need a whole lot more hype and real info about how it works before it will sell well. Just not there yet.”
Roque Mocan chimed in, noting:
“What is “Android” for a non-geek? A non-entity … It would have to be super-revolutionary and super-easy to use to get above the me-too crowd. Or it would have to carpet bomb with ads in TV, etc. I, for one, don’t see any Zune, any Windows Mobile, any Vista ads (at least until now) and see where Microsoft is in its mindshare of the consumer.“
The best analysis came from Moschops, who almost makes me want to reverse my position. He said not to be too optimistic, noting that Apple has already saturated the market for new smart phones and that the millions who migrated to AT&T for the iPhone are locked into two-year plans. This is hard to refute.
Moschops also said T-Mobile has a much smaller built-in market to sell to without requiring a carrier switch and that T-Mobile has coverage issues as a carrier so it’s going to be a harder sell to get people to switch carriers. I wouldn’t know about this, though reader Nick Woodson supports this claim:
“I was a T-Mobile user for years. I even waited for the Android phone, but my service contract was up and it was time to get a phone. The delays on this unit took about four months too long so I wound up with a Treo755P … and Verizon as a carrier. My problem with T-Mobile was weak coverage. My Razr had call drop issues on GSM so I wasn’t willing to chance it in my area. I wish them luck. … T-Mobile’s customer service is great … but I hope they fix the coverage issues.“
With this ammunition, Moschops said the Dream will be bought by geeks, Google lovers, users who loathe Apple (if there are any), people who just have to have a keyboard and anyone who has held out against the iPhone for a year now.