Why Transmedia Launched Glide Engage on the T-Mobile G1 Instead of Apple's iPhone

Transmedia launches its Glide Engage microblogging and collaboration application for the T-Mobile G1 smartphone, based on Google's Android mobile operating system. Transmedia CEO Donald Leka said Apple's inconsistent iPhone App Store policies and the fact that Glide Engage will compete with Apple's MobileMe and iTunes store mean Transmedia has to be careful about what it launches on the iPhone.

Transmedia CEO and Chairman Donald Leka isn't buying the recent talk about the Apple iPhone being superior to the T-Mobile G1 based on Google's Android mobile operating system. Leka uses both the iPhone and the G1 and said he finds the G1 superior for Web browsing.

Weighing that fact and Apple's unpredictable iPhone App Store policies regarding competing applications, Transmedia Aug. 18 launched the first mobile version of its Glide Engage social networking and mobile collaboration application for the G1 smartphone. Glide Engage does a lot, but most notably it enables microblogging up to 1,400 characters, a stab at Twitter's 140-character cap for messaging.

Transmedia's choice of the G1 as the launch pad for Glide Engage is significant because it flies in the face of some developer anecdotes that the G1 is an inferior device to the iPhone. Although Apple has sold millions of iPhones, the device is supported by an App Store marred by inconsistent policies that have led to the expulsion of some applications.

In the most high-profile case, Apple allowed some third-party Google Voice call management applications to run on the iPhone, but yanked them from the App Store. Apple also rejected Google's submission of a Google Voice application for the iPhone App Store.

Transmedia has supported the iPhone since its inception two years ago, letting iPhone users create Microsoft Word and PDF documents, edit photos and other tasks from the Glide Operating System. But business is business, and Leka believes the best business is to go with the G1 first.

Leka told eWEEK the Google Voice issue, currently under investigation by the Federal Communications Commission, the open-source nature of Android, and the G1's nimble Web browsing were a few of the reasons he and his staff chose to release Glide Engage for the G1 first.

"The Android phone is just a great Web phone," Leka told eWEEK. "I carry an Android phone and I carry an iPhone, but for Web browsing I just find the Android phone to be a better Web browsing phone."

However, he admitted another reason that proves more pragmatic than philosophical. Glide Engage aims to compete with Apple's MobileMe service, which pushes e-mail, contacts and calendar events over the air to all Apple devices, and potentially down the road with Apple's iTunes store and social networking plans.

"We're a small company, so we can't release something that Apple arbitrarily rejects and then we've lost our development dollars," Leka told eWEEK, adding that he wants to establish a foothold for Glide Engage in the mobile market before submitting an iPhone version for approval to Apple.

Glide Engage is a rights-based social networking and macro- or micro-blogging service. The fat character cap on the app's microblogging feature means people can use it to share documents, images and other files.

In describing this capability, Leka also claimed Glide Engage is a bit like "bringing Google Wave to the Android platform before Google does it," because it lets users start with a post, then add editable links to documents and photos. Users can also easily upgrade their microblogging collaboration to a video conference on the fly.

Glide Engage is also integrated with the Glide OS's productivity and collaboration application suite and file storage solution, allowing users to create and share documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

Glide Engage, which features 10 gigabytes of free storage, can be downloaded here for the G1, but will eventually be rolled out for RIM's Blackberry, the Palm Pre, Symbian and Windows Mobile. That doesn't mean the app will never grace the iPhone.

Leka said a version of the Glide Engage application for the iPhone is nearly complete and will be submitted to Apple for approval.

The mobile version of Glide Engage comes a week after Transmedia rolled out the desktop version, which can be downloaded here.