The 3G smartphone with sliding keyboard and a limited touch interface integrates multiple Google products like Maps and Mail in ways no phone has before, incorporating things like Street View in Maps and a linked phone-web calendar to allow simple synching of on-the-go tasks with master planners. For the hardcore Google fiend in your life, it seems like the perfect fit, but will it take on the iPhone? The answer may be in the development of Android, a fairly open platform based on Linux. Richard Ting, VP & ECD, mobile and emerging platforms at R/GA, thinks the Android system could be "very disruptive," especially contrasted with the control exerted by Apple on iPhone applications. "Developers like to create for open platforms," Ting says. "The openness of Android may force Apple to loosen its policies around its somewhat random application approval process for its App Store." Pre-ordered G1s shipped October 22nd, and cost $179 with a two-year T-Mobile contract.
Android's evolution may also send waves up the tree to the carrier network-level, Ting says, laying out a scenario where a massive amount of Android applications flood the market and saturate carrier networks, corrupting connections to others on the network. "Carriers are also worried about their networks being used mainly as a pipe to get content back and forth between corporate content creators and their consumers," Ting says. "I believe that the carriers want to support the evolution of better content for mobile, but they are going to want their piece of the pie as well."
Ting cites the five-row QWERTY keyboard and mapping (the G1 has a compass that shifts based on where you're facing in Google Maps) as well as a higher-resolution camera G1's advantages over the iPhone, and says he can't wait to test out the newcomer's DRM-free Amazon music store integration. "I'm also looking forward to the new deal that Android signed with Visa, especially the application that will allow Visa consumers to make mobile payments in retail stores from their Android device," Ting says the G1, which will also be able to read barcodes, may spur retailers into investing in solutions to make mobile payments a reality in the U.S