Friday, 8 January 2010

Google "SuperPhone" good but still can't make tea!

The two big tech events of the week are

1) CES (the consumer electronics show in Las Vegas), which is basically one enormous santa's grotto for tech and gadget lovers, full of shiny toys and promises of things to come (more later on that).

2) the launch of the first Google phone, the Nexus One.

There was hefty expectation of what the phone would do, but in reality Google's first move into vertical integration (making and selling handsets direct to the consumers) didn't really deliver anything hugely surprising.  Well at least not to me, most of the leading smart phones, irrespective of the operating system they are based on do the same thing: provide pocket-sized computing services on the go.  And none of them can turn the kettle on yet before I get up /  home. I am sure that is just a matter of time

What does it do better than my HTC Hero?  Well it has a 5 megapixel camera with a flash  so that's an improvement but otherwise.... not much really that I can't do already.  For me the big thing Google / Android need to fix to seriously compete with Apple is to allow you to save apps to external memory (micro SD) +/or significantly increase onboard memory. I can add seemingly limitless numbers of apps to my iTouch/iPhone without affecting performance, but download too many on the Android based phones and they start running out of processor capability pretty fast.

The real "big deal" about this launch is the fact that you have to buy it straight from Google direct:

By cutting out the handset manufacturer that gives them a huge degree of influence / control over what they include as features.

Not to mention how much greater share of insight / data they get on usage behaviour in addition to all the other things the reveals they know about your online behaviour already.  I think it's also interesting from a directional point over the entire Android developer community. Developers for Apple iPhone apps are all working to the same handset, whereas by making the Android operating system open source there are already strands developing that fragment towards Motorola Droid / HTC phones and so the presence of a Google phone on the Google owned operating system potentially leads direction amongst the pack. Throw in the increasingly direct and tangible relationship with the consumer via an object that is on hand 24/7, 365 days a year and it makes for interesting times ahead in the battles between [inherently, should be invisible] technology provider and consumer  to brand relationships across multiple touchpoints.

All that notwithstanding I think this is going to be a really year for mobile and the Android platform in particular. We shall see.

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