GPhone is No iPhone Slayer… Yet

Google announced its first foray into the smartphone market yesterday with T-Mobile’s HTC Dream, which uses the Android Mobile OS.

I honestly have to say I’m not particularly impressed with what I’ve seen so far.  If the iPhone is the sexy MacBook Air of the mobile world, the Dream feels like the equivalent of the One Laptop Per Child laptops: interesting enough to play with for awhile, but not enticing enough to buy.

Part of that, admittedly, is the marketing.  In typical Google style, it looks like the marketing was done by a group of engineers.  All of the images I’ve of the Dream’s Home screen have big, blocky, low resolution icons and an enormous analog clock that looks like the standard UNIX KDE clock.  Not so sexy.  It’s not clear who they’re trying to market the phone to.  Other software engineers?  My grandmother?  The blind?

Of course, these are only initial ignorant knee-jerk reactions.  I haven’t actually held one in my hand.

All cheap shots aside, I have to hand it to Google for their commitment to keeping the platform Open Source.  Unlike Apple’s application store, the Google mobile app marketplace will remain open and unmoderated.  Any developer will be able to post and sell their application and any user will be able to download and install whatever they want.  No restrictions.  If I were Apple, I’d start to worry that this would be highly attractive to the growing pool of slighted iPhone developers looking for greener pastures in which to develop.

And in the end, Google seems to have a healthy attitude about all of this.  They know they’re not going to take over the market overnight.  They’re prepared to lose money on this for awhile.  And really, as noted by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Google benefits from more users accessing the web (and using their search engine) on their mobile device, regardless of who made the handset.

So no.  It’s no iPhone killer.  It’s ugly as hell.  But it has prospects.

I’m eager to see how all of this pans out.

Read more about all Google’s unveiling on NYTimes

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