The Google phone, or G1, is here and it’s certain to have the industry buzzing for the next few days and weeks. The $179 mobile Internet device (MID) goes on sale through T-mobile October 22nd, and aims to improve on the mobile Internet groundwork laid by Apple’s iPhone. It’s interesting how both these devices hang on to the term “phone,” when the reality is the phone portion takes a back seat to the MID functionality that dominates them. Using the term phone is a great exercise in consumer relativity – everyone understands and relates to the term phone, but few people buy either device because it’s a phone. They will buy the G1 because it puts the Internet in their pocket, and Google is the defacto Internet guide. The G1 has all the standard smartphone features including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, a 3 megapixel camera, QWERTY keyboard, touchscreen, GPS, email compatibility, and mobile browser functionality.
The G1 aims to beat the iPhone with openness – meaning one goal of Android’s open source mobile operating system is to unleash uncontrolled development. Google hopes to beat the iPhone Apps store by unleashing developers around the globe to do with Android whatever they please, unlike the very controlled Apple iPhone operating ecosystem. Google also hopes to meet Apple head on with Amazon’s help, by preloading Amazon’s music service to the G1. Amazon’s approach to music is analogous to Android’s approach to an operating system – openness. Amazon’s music service is virtually DRM free, giving users many more options with their music library than iTunes does. This approach allows consumers to take their Amazon downloaded tracks and play them on multiple devices, including an iPod.
T-mobile obviously wants to leverage the G1 in much the same way AT&T has done with the iPhone. They’ve announced some very aggressive data pricing plans, starting at just $25/month, and $35/month for unlimited data service. Combined with a T-mobile voice plan, customers can get a voice plan with unlimited data for $55/month, compared with $70/month for a comparable iPhone plan. “The idea is driving mass adoption of the mobile Web in the U.S.,” Tom Harlin, T-Mobile USA’s senior manager for public relations told Light Reading’s Unstrung. The iPhone kicked off bringing the mobile Internet experience to the mainstream, and the G1 hopes to carry the torch even further. Now only if T-mobile can get their 3G network working beyond just a handful of markets.