Android, Not Ready for Prime Time. Or Is It?

android_spotlightI need to start this article with a confession of addiction, it is what they tell me helps to handle my problem;

Hello, my name is Ray and I am addicted to Technology.

That being out of the way;

I am like Napoleon Dynamite’s brother Kip, singing, “I love technology” at the end of the movie. Being an addict as such, the iPhone was something that sent my arm itching need for tech gadgets over the top.

I saw the iPhone and fell instantly in love, and immediately went about looking for ways to get one, and was stymied when I found out that AT$T (the cash sign there is not a typo) had exclusive rights to the phone, and wanted my first born child or my star wars collection in exchange to get my hands on that beautiful piece of hardware.

Like any good junkie, I started looking for alternatives to get my fix, and that is when I found my G1 from T-Mobile. I could not believe my eyes when I saw the description, a phone which runs off a Google platform, ties into all things Google, AND has a STRONG similarity to the device of my desire: the ability to touch the electronic awesomeness and interact with STUFF without the use of a silly stylus.

I remember getting that beautiful box from the T-Mobile store, unpacking my G1, pressing the power button and while I was waiting for it to boot up, dreaming of all the awesome applications I was going to use and download, and all the different ways I was going to make it the best iPhone alternative EVER.

The phone powered up and I started playing, and I found myself……disappointed. Only 3 Home screens? No widgets, no auto rotate? (This was pre-cupcake of course). I felt ripped off, I felt robbed. I started scanning the Market and found it a POOR substitute for the app store that I had been so looking forward to.

I then panicked and realized that I was stuck with this poor excuse for a tech gadget for 2 years!! I begged my wife to take it as hers, so I could get an unlocked iPhone. She, being a gadget widow for 10 years now and tired of moving boxes of different tech toys that I have used and forgotten, put her foot down and forbade me to even THINK of getting rid of the phone. I resigned myself to being stuck, and began working with the phone, trying to force an iPhone experience out of it.

As I started getting deeper into the G1, something funny started to happen, I started to feel like this phone was well, made for me and what I do. I use Gmail exclusively–our organization has our domain connected to Google Apps, and so this is part of my everyday life. When the G1 connected to my Gmail account, I had connectivity, just like that. “It just worked”. Sounds very Apple doesn’t it?

I started exploring the calendar program on the phone, and saw that it had ALREADY downloaded my calendar from our Google Apps account. After that, it was love at second sight, it had me at the proverbial, “hello,” since for me one of the Holy Grails of smartphones is how easy it is to sync your calendar dates with your mobile device. If you have ever struggled with any of the Windows Mobile iterations, you have felt my pain when trying to get your calendar dates on your phone. This thing, this beautiful G1, had done it like some sort of ghost of Radar O’Reilly from MASH. Without me even KNOWING or TELLING it to. It just, did it. I was in LOVE.

Being a year or so down the road of G1 ownership, and having fallen in love with Android, I have heard the many critics of the platform talking that it is no iPhone replacement. And hey, they are right! The Android platform in my opinion was not created to replace the iPhone, but to COMPETE with it, which it does in my opinion quite well.

In the past year, we have seen significant add-ons to the G1 and Android platform phones; we had the release of Cupcake, we have seen Google Voice launch, and we have seen the Market mature somewhat in its offerings.

Many critics are saying that the Android platform really does not deserve to be out there, nor does it have the muscle to compete with Apple and it’s device. My argument there is that Google, I do not think, is trying to replace anything, but to match the needs of many of it’s users, and specifically business oriented consumers.

After getting my G1, a coworker of mine got one as well. The collaboration that the phone unlocks for us really does not have an equal that we have found. We can chat through Google Talk, with one person on a desktop and the other on their phone. We can share calendars and dates. We can access our organizations documents through Google Docs, and we can even locate each other using Google Maps and latitude. The device has linked us in a way that having an office full of iPhone’s might not be able to do as easily. Android is built to be a COLLABORATIVE platform, where I think that the iPhone is built to be a COMMERCIAL platform.

Android, not ready for Prime Time? Perhaps not the Prime Time that we are assuming when comparing it to the iPhone, but it is MORE than ready for the Prime Time that matters. Android is making life and business work better, and taking advantage of the internet and “cloud” computing, removing the need to be in one place to access your data. That makes Android a true player in this new smart phone world that has been defined by the iPhone. Android, like Google, is looking to redefine how we handle data, and is doing a great job at it. Call me an Android Fanboy, I am guilty as charged.

  • Rifsha

    I don't know if its right to say sadly or amazingly, but I am sadly/amazingly giddy after reading this for my first android phone, which will be the first phone with something better than G1's processor(probably sholes).
    That being said, from everything I've read, I'd say its more than ready for "Prime Time," in the sense of competitiveness in regards to reaching the mass markets. Maybe me being a CS major is skewing my perception of Android, but I don't care, bring on the Snapdragon and then I'll say screw the rest.

    • Rifsha

      I just read my previous post and have the urge to say sorry for my mediocre grammar. I'm not an English major for a reason.

  • George

    The G1 is the best phone out in the market right now. If apple didnt have such a strong app store it wouldnt be at the top.

    • c0z

      Apple has a huge head-start on the Android Market, too. By head-start, I mean years!

  • SiI

    Interesting… I'd suggest the killer G1 app is the way that the interface can be completely customised to allow you access whatever services you want to access quickly…!

    … I have no idea what UI developers do all day, but in my mind, what you want is the pertinent information to hand and ability to act on this with the minimum fuss. Quite excited about motoBlur for this…

    For example, I can call 3 people from icons on my centre home screen in one touch, a further 16 with two. I then have email (work and personal) at a touch, podcast, music, fbook, twitter and ability to switch bluetooth/wifi on/off.

    These functions pretty much cover 80-90% of my usage… all within one touch (or two). No WM device has ever been this easy to set-up! And while the iphone goes some way to doing this, Android gives you more options.

    Also, can't help but think that being an early adopter of the G1 is paying dividends now… and I'll be eligible for an upgrade in 9 months – just when Android is getting proper good (with better hardware and full flash internet – on the assumption that the first implementation will be buggy for 6 months!).

    • is this 9 months upgrade from t-mobile? i got my G1 on pre-order back on Oct 21. 2008, i think i'm well after the 9-month period. but i log on to t-mob site and find even the myTouch 3G is priced at $399 (full price) for me in the "upgrade my phone" section.

      ?? should i call t-mob?

      • chefgon

        T-Mobile's website won't let you get a subsidized phone until your current contract is expired. If you go to a brick-and-mortar T-Mobile store and talk to a salesman, he will likely give you the fully subsidized price if you're more than 12 months into your original 24 month contract. I've done it multiple times and they never give me any hassle about it. I think you have about another month to go (I don't remember the G1's exact release date), but once you're past that 12 month market I'd head to a T-Mobile store and see what they can do for you.

  • Lak

    G1 is so sweet, much dissed and still is by some so called tech writers, but android has come on leaps and bounds since those early days before cupcake, and as far as i am concerned the hard keyboard sells it for me I would not buy another phone without a keyboard. I had used a winmo for years before this and thought that was amazing syncing my outlook and calender to my pc but this takes it to a new level as has been mentioned with cloud computing, I make a change in my calender and its synced up before you can say applesucksballs.

  • Sam

    Great read Ray. This made wanna get another G1 and I've had four of them already! Even though I have a myTouch 3G my G1 is still the "go to" device b/c of the keyboard.

  • BackInAction

    It certainly seems like Android is getting "better", but for the "Joseph Cabernet" consumer, iPhone still seems like a device. Now for "Ned Jolt", the Android is the way to go. But, I'm not sure that's a huge market. Especially when many "Ned Jolts" have company supplied blackberries.

    • BackInAction

      Edit: "…still seems like a better device."

  • Igor

    surprised to read good comments on G1… I got the myTouch and like it. It has twice the internal memory which fixed the G1 speed issue and also has a better battery, although I would probably like a real keyboard more… I'm waiting for next year to get a model with the best of both worlds.

    • I am glad you like your MT3G, it is a great phone! Don't forget that a lot of early adopters bought the G1, and are working through their 2 year contract before they can upgrade without give their first born lol. The MT3G is not enough hardware for me to upgrade for a full price share. Thanks for your comments igor!

  • takabanana

    You hit the nail on the head with: "The Android platform in my opinion was not created to replace the iPhone, but to COMPETE with it". Many people forget that a successful company/product does not try to COPY a competing product, but come out with something different, or at least innovate with differentiators – exactly what the iPhone did when it first came out. The iPhone succeeded because it was innovative, different, and had Apple's incredible marketing (and its powerful brand name) behind it. Apple could sell pizzas better than Papa John's and Domino's – many people buy just because "it's Apple" without having any technical reason why. A stupid company would try to copy it. A smart company would take its good points, and come up with something that differentiates, that people are willing to pay for. Android doesn't have the marketing power of Apple (although I wish they would push more marketing – most consumers have no clue what Android is) – so the "people willing to pay for" isn't quite there… yet. FYI, I am FAR from an iPhone/Apple fanboi – but am appreciative of Apple's ability to innovate and create a competitive market. I am looking forward to getting either the Hero or InstinctQ with Sprint within the next 3 months…. not interested in iPhone at all, because I feel Android is more "for me".

  • TareX

    Great article.

    However, I must confess that my excitement with Android has faded week after week, with every device announcement. The hardware just killed it. I am now almost 90% positive that my next purchase will be a Windows Mobile Tegra phone… First of all, I doubt Android developers will develop many WVGA OpenGL ES 2.0 apps when only 5% of the Android market will support it come next spring, while developers for the Windows CE-based Zune HD will be pouring their apps all over Windows Mobile 7 users…. In addition to that, history has shown time and again that all the serious phones with serious hardware get Windows Mobile… Xperia 3 and Sholes? Those are 3 months away at least, and it's not like WM won't be getting new powerful phone (which it already has right here right now)

    Android had its chance a year ago, and for an entire year, it lagged while WebOS made a strong appearance and WM 6.5 made a comeback, and it will only get worse with Windows Mobile 7….

    There is definitely a market for Android, but I'm afraid it won't live up to my demands, which is too bad because I love Android's desktops, notification bar, shortcuts and widgets (although WM7 will have widgets and an omni-present notifications)…

    • TareX

      Also, Cupcake (1.5) which arrived in MAY was nothing but what the original Android should have been. So basically, this is only an example of the lagging behind of Android development, which I'm not complaining of by the way given it's a free, open source mobile plaform. Unlike OSX, WM, and webOS which have dedicated highly paid teams working on them…

      • TareX,

        I certainly agree with the cupcake comment, that was almost exactly what my thought was when I finally was able to get cupcake, "if this had released like this, watch out!". I don't know that I agree with the windows mobile comparisons, I have used windows mobile for quite awhile before I switched over to my G1. I do agree that Windows mobile was WAY more enterprise ready, but it is a clunky platform at best, perhaps the new versions will improve that. I would love to see more competition in the smartphone market, when there is competition, price comes down for us, the consumer.

        You do have some valid points, where I stand is in the place that I see the POTENTIAL of the platform, and I find it very exciting. You are correct that the hardware MUST catch up to the OS or Android is going the way of the dinosaur, which is where Windows mobile went and has to resurrect from.

        Thanks for the comments, I appreciate your readership!

      • steckdiggy

        You want to see an Android device with good hardware? Check out the Sony Ericsson Rachael (Xperia 5)! 1GHZ processor, 8MP camera. I don't know when it will come out but it is on my wish list.

  • MullyNYC

    I hear you. My small agency runs google apps and we all have android phones, including G1's, Magics and now a couple HEROs. While we live and breathe Apple for everything else (since the days of the Mac SE30), I would not give up the android platform for anything. It may lack the polish of the apple, but I feel the potential of open source makes Android so much more inviting. Who would have ever thought you could run custom ROMs on your cell phone just a few years ago. If your company runs Google, the phone literally becomes an extension of your desktop. I have had them all from blackberrys to e71's and with every phone, the honeymoon is great but then you just yearn for more. Android, and specifically the hero, is the first phone I ever felt you can grow INTO.

  • G1 was definitely a beta phone, but it was a great start. With latest custom ROMs, G1 still has plenty of life left, but I am really looking forward to better hardware, along with continued progress in the OS. And looking forward to a larger user base to buy my apps 🙂

  • To me, I am anti – Apple. (iphone, ipod, i dont care…) Yes Android is lacking in areas, yet it also has so much more to be slated on the table, but one thing many over look is Apple was making computers for years before the iphone, Microsoft even more before it opened up to the phone market. So expecting Google to come out of the box ahead of them was only wishful thinking. Given time, and the giant behind it, Android will find itself I am sure. To me, I love everything Google, thats how I stay connected, so it works. There are plenty of smart developers working on things to come with this OS, but with all things, it will take time.
    To me, if you are looking at your phone and comparing it to the iphone, then you got the phone for the wrong reason. If you got the phone for what it does differently, then you understand that EVERY phone being like the other would be totally a bore. I laugh at the iphone commercials saying yes, my phone can to that (or something like it) but can they do this….
    My wife has changed my name to Thomas Android from Thomas Andrew….. why, because I believe in this device…. of course now she wants an Android phone too…

  • android is ready for prime time and is catching up the the iphone in apps in some areas


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  • I think android is ready with this because they are able to make things work and they even have good performance.