Google Gives Employees G1s... to Make Way For G2s?

By now many of you have surely seen the well circulated holiday e-mail from Google about T-Mobile G1s with custom Android logos being doled out to 85 percent of Googlers in lieu of a cash bonus for Christmas. That's some 18,000-plus Android-based smart phones if Google truly has over

By now many of you have surely seen the well circulated holiday e-mail from Google about T-Mobile G1s with custom Android logos being doled out to 85 percent of Googlers in lieu of a cash bonus for Christmas.

That's some 18,000-plus Android-based smart phones if Google truly has over 20,000 employees still on its active list. Holy handsets! Employees in countries where Google couldn't make this happen for legal reasons will get cash instead. Taking into account that not all Googlers will be T-Mobile customers, the phone is unlocked so it can work with any provider.

Read the Q&A from Google on Gizmodo and this memo on ValleyWag for complete details.

Google confirmed this slight gesture for me in a more succinct statement:

"To thank everyone for their hard work, Google's holiday bonus is a Dream phone, which is the same device that T-Mobile markets as the G1. We've never developed anything like the Android software before, and this represented a unique opportunity to celebrate that achievement."

It would be interesting to see how many Googlers give up their iPhones for this custom G1, which has an Android logo on it, but let's have fun with this in a different way. Two days ago, I mulled the possibilities of the G2 launching from T-Mobile in January, wondering whether it would bother people who bought G1s just three months ago.

Perhaps Google is giving these G1s away to employees to make way for the G2s? Now that would be a hoot. Okay, enough silliness. Today I want to call out some of the comments readers offered regarding the G2 debate. Some of you hate the G1, some of you love it. I've played with one, but don't own one and I'm not going to quibble with you here.

First, in answer to my question about whether a G2 is coming from T-Mobile in January as Cell Phone Signal reported, or April, as Boy Genius reported, Stan wrote:

"Today, Dec. 21, 2008 I was informed by a friend of mine who happens to be a T-Mobile store manager that there will indeed be a G2 release around the end of January. It is said to be a more curvaceous style that is much better looking, better camera, no boxy design like the G1 and slightly smaller. It will also have a stand up screen when using the Qwerty keyboard instead of the sliding method used in the G1."

Stan also wonders whether G1 customers will get a discount on the G2. Ha! That's funny.

Anyway, there are those of you who believe that because the G2 will be markedly different from the G1, it will be a treat to people expected more from the G1, or who just want more choice, as Kevin notes:

"The G2 can come out whenever - tomorrow - it doesn't matter. Looking at the same information provided by yourself, it clearly is a different device. I know one is called the G1 and the other is called the G2 but why does that mean the G2 is the replacement? Not necessarily true is it? I personally hate touch screen keyboards and would stick with the G1 over the G2 for that reason. The iPhone customers were furious because the price was significantly cut, on the same product. Comparing apples to apples usually makes a lot more sense doesn't it?"

I can't argue with you Kevin on this. At all. Ditto for Paul Kraetsch, who writes:

"I expect the earliest to see the G2 would be in the spring. I think it could be a very good strategy. If Google releases the G2 as a high end phone ($300-$400), people will buy it if it delivers. At the same time I think the G1 will remain selling to the consumers who like a physical keyboard and who want a less expensive phone."

Though I am starting to wonder. With Apple commoditizing the smart phone space at $199 price points, will we ever have a need for devices at double the price. Do we need $2,000 laptops when we have $400 netbooks? Who can say? Choice is choice.

MS doesn't like the chatter:

"Rants about rumors. That's useful. How about you pull off your blinders and remember that more choice is a good thing. Millions of people buy phones who don't follow all the up-to-the-minute news about technology. They get what they want and when their phone works, they don't look again at the market until they want something new."

Did I not agree choice is choice? MS is right.

Yet AM and Richard said they will be upset (not their word choice) if the G2 comes out so soon after the G1. To this, KevinFromOhio has the well thought out response:

"It's not rocket science that if a version 1 product is at least reasonably well received in the market, another version will likely be released at some point. Yes, January seems like a pretty fast turn-around for a product that was launched in October, but as others have said, the G2 as described doesn't sound so much like an 'upgrade', exactly, as just a different phone that happens to use the same operating system. Are you mad at T-mobile because they have multiple models of Blackberry's, Nokia's, and Samsung's, too? Different models offer people different combo's of features. Some people want a real keyboard, others don't, so different models satisfy different users."
"If you're mad because it has a feature you wish you had in your G1, all I can say is you shouldn't have bought the G1 if it was missing features you wanted. I took a look at the G1, and decided I wouldn't buy one, because it was missing features which I thought a phone of that caliber and price should have (such as support for Unlimited Hotspot Calling/UMA). I also wanted to see what apps came out for the OS, to see if there were actually going to be apps I wanted to buy from the app store. So, I'm waiting to see if they release one which matches the feature set *I* want."

Amen. That's a smart, rational consumer for you. He even goes on to suggest that is T-Mobile releases a G2 so soon after the G1, it should offer a trade-in program, giving G1 owners the option "to get the new phone either free or cheap, if they extend the contract another 6 months. They can turn around and re-sell the trade-ins to other customers for like $75 and a 2 year contract, and everybody's happy."

I'm not sure everyone would be happy. T-Mobile would lose serious bucks this way even if it curried favor with consumers. Google would probably just be thrilled to have more Android-based devices out there but, I'm sure T-Mobile doesn't want to lose whatever it's made on the G1s.

Perhaps T-mobile will embrace the spend money to make money notion, a dubious practice in this wretched economy. The sour economy alone should curb new device manufacturing for a bit, no? The G1 before Christmas made sense, but how much sense would a G2 make as we slide deeper into the recession?

What do you think?