It wasn’t that long ago – a little under 5 months – that we were all in a twitter about the release of the iPhone. Monday brought about the next big thing in mobile technology, and it looks as if it is going to be even bigger.
Apple fan-boys and girls may scream at me if they wish, I’m not really in a mood to care. The simple fact is that Google is about to provide a service that Apple could only hope to achieve.
Let’s look at what Google announced on Monday, and see what it means.
First of all, this isn’t just a Google phone. It is so much more than that, and Google obviously knew what they were doing when they begun planning this.
Back in 2005 Google bought out a small mobile software company called Android. They eventually slip in to the green mists of Google’s massive business, with only the savvy making connections. But even those smarties couldn’t have conceived just what Google have done with it.
For the layman, I’ll explain one thing before I continue. Each phone – whether it be a Nokia, Motorola or a Blackberry – runs on an “operating system”. Just like Windows or Max OSX, a phone has its own system that it runs upon. Nokia have their own, as do RIM, Microsoft and Palm provide OS’s for other phone makers. So there is not one real “winner”, as one might say for the PC OS wars.
That explained, Google have essentially put Microsoft and Palm on the back foot straight away. Neither have been overly popular as of late, and Palm has been falling down time after time over the last couple of years.
What they’ve done is build an operating system that, straight out of the blocks, has the backing of multiple phone and chip makers. Big names Motorola and HTC are both onboard to make phones available with the Android platform available in the late half of 2008, and chipmaker Qualcom is right along with them.
So while this puts Microsoft and Palm – and, to a lesser degree, RIM and Nokia – on the defensive, what about Apple? Surely the iPhone is going to be able to stay as popular!?
Not really, or at least, not as I see it. The biggest problem that Apple is facing is that they have (allegedly) signed a 5 year exclusivity deal with AT&T, and unless Jobs can pull another miracle out of his negotiating belt, they’ll be stuck with such the deal.
This means that Apple cannot branch out, and allow other carriers to provide service for the iPhone. Whereas already right out of the starting gates, Google have lined up Sprint and T-Mobile to provide coverage. Though small fries compared to the US juggernauts that AT&T and Verizon are, they’re not all that small. Both have sizeable market share, and T-Mobile has a massive worldwide network that extends well in to Europe.
So while the Google phone manages to gain notoriety as they work well with multiple carriers, the iPhone will be stuck lagging behind, stuck to an AT&T contract. In addition, whereas phones made by HTC and Motorola will be working on multiple networks, the iPhone is only working on the AT&T GSM/EDGE network.
Lastly, Google is not in this to make money off the hardware of software – why would they, with their bank balance – but to make money off the new ad-sales. Consider that you’ve now got a Google phone, and you want to know where the best place to get your suit dry-cleaned is. Pop open your Google phone, and the number one search option is the sponsored ad for “Hung’s Fast Suit Clean” shop two blocks away.
It is the advertising model that Google has been working towards for a long time. Marketing that targets you, where you are.
The iPhone was always my dream phone. Am I going to be waiting to see what the Google phones are going to be? Oh you better believe it!
(As a disclaimer, I’ve worked in the tech industry, and followed its trends for a long time. My views are also backed up by CNet big names such as Brian Cooley and Molly Wood. See Buzz Out Loud Podcast 597 for more.)
Posted by Josh Hill.