Google Phone not so smart after all
Internet giant Google launched its own smartphone last week. The only thing unique about the phone is its name. Nevertheless, it has generated enormous hype.
The Google Phone – officially, the Nexus One – allows you to phone, take photos, listen to music and use the internet. Just like the iPhone from Google’s main competitor, Apple, and just like most of the other smartphones on the market.
The phones themselves are not even manufactured by Google itself but by the reputable HTC company. Their Android operating system has been on the market for a year and is used in about 14 other types of mobile phone.
Nerds will probably find it interesting to know that the Google Phone uses a new version (2.1) of Android which makes it quicker and thinner than most of its rivals. However, this does not explain why more than 23 million pages on the web are devoted to speculation about the new smart-phone.
The enormous hype seems mostly to be the result of one thing: the clever move of marketing the phone under the Google logo rather than under that of HTC itself. That is a first.
The message is simple: you can use the new phone to do all the things you do at home with Google - search, e-mail, plan routes, manage contacts and save documents. Just add the details of your free Gmail account and you have everything in one go and at hand, without needing extra programmes or knowledge about smart-phones.
That is nothing special either. Apple’s iPhone, the most popular smart-phone with 45 million already sold, offers the same functions. However, to make use of the iPhone facility, you have to subscribe to the expensive MobileMe. So far, there are just a few hundred thousand subscribers, whereas Gmail is used by over 146 million people every month.
Many of these Gmail clients do not yet have a phone with an internet connection and the technical arguments used by most companies to rate their smartphones leave them cold. But, they are familiar with Google. The Google Phone will probably manage to tempt a large group of people to buy their first smart-phone.
And it’s not just the mobile phone industry that’s eager for the development. Everyone, from major media organisations to the European Union, expects all sorts of breakthroughs to come from the mobile phone internet phenomenon. The only thing necessary to make this happen is that the number of mobile internet users increases in a major way and quickly.
The Google name may play an important part in making this happen. The company’s critics are quick to warn that the internet giant’s monopoly position will only get stronger if the company is successful in breaking into the mobile phone market.
Google, however, hopes to woo even these critics with its new phone, because the Android operating system it has chosen is open-source software.
This means that anyone can develop new applications for the phone, not just Google itself or a select group of professionals who have bought expensive licences. Google also cannot decide which applications users can get to see, as Apple does through the iPhone’s heavily regulated App Store.
Even this does not make the Google Phone truly revolutionary, but the new smartphone may still live up to all the hype in the end.
Perro de Jong