The G1 Quandary: Open Yet Locked

September 24, 2008

Judy Mottl

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The Android

"So much for open," Jack Gold, analyst, J.Gold Associates, told InternetNews.com following Tuesday's launch event. "It still begs the question of why the G1 is different as I don’t see many users, consumer or business, dumping their existing phones and carriers to rush out and buy this device," said Gold.

"Locking the SIM is a little at odds with Google's hype around openness," Neil Mawston, director of the global wireless practice for Strategy Analytics, told InternetNews.com.

Yet Mawston believes Google's development community, called the Android Market, will let developer creates applications for the platform without any prior approval process.

"Neither Google nor T-Mobile will ban or edit any legitimate applications," said Mawston.

The big issue that may crop up, according to one pundit, is competition around application development. "Openness can lead to fragmentation," said Carolina Milanesi, research director for mobile devices technology at Gartner.

"We also need to see what will happen if developers are starting to come up with applications that get into competition with what Google or T-Mobile offer," Milanesi said.

Another pundit is excited that the device provided more than he expected in terms of features.

"On one hand it went further than I thought," said telecom analyst Jeff Kagan. "I thought it was going to be a platform which they would build on -- a platform for the future. It is that. But it is also a device which looks very good," he said.

Yet some pundits weren't overwhelmed by the features and looks.

"This is not earth shattering, as HTC could have brought more to the table in terms of design and sleekness," Ryan Reith, senior analyst with IDC, told InternetNews.com.

"It is rather lacking in sexiness but the big value is around the services, user interface and functionality," said Reith, who called it "powerful," noting the device's Qualcomm chipset.

The applications shown at launch seemed to ignite excitement with pundits. During the event Google demonstrated the Google Maps Street View, which lets customers explore cities at street-level. The feature syncs with the phone's built-in compass for viewing locations and navigate 360 degrees by simply moving the phone with their hand.

Reith, who said he tested the application, called it a "phenomenal" feature.

"The real benefit of Android is still some time out, as it will take the developer community a bit of time to do what they do best," said Reith. "But you can bet that we will see applications that will come that will do amazing things on this platform."

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