On Monday, Google notified the world (the part that cares) about their Google Phone plans. This was a hyped announcement. The hype was nearly iPhonesque. However, it landed with a loud dud.
Instead of a groundbreaking phone (let’s leave Apple to those sort of things), we get Android. Android is an open mobile platform. There have already been a bunch of interesting conversations about Android and what it means. Read two of the more interesting posts (here) and (here). Microsoft is a bit scared but not quaking in their boots. Nokia has open-source symbian and a huge portion of the smartphone market. Motorola is trying to create their own open-source linux mobile OS. Apple has the iPhone and a very closed, but safe and secure little world.
So what does Google bring to the market? Android is maybe more open than the other systems. However, does the average consumer really care what system their phone runs unless they are already tied to a proprietary system? The people who are comfortable in an MS environment and easy compatibility with Office (and that is a huge number), go with Windows Mobile. Blackberry offers crackberry addicts their daily fix and some people swear by the environment and email functionality. I love Google applications. Gmail is my main email. Google Reader is the best rss reader. Google maps is my default mapping service. Good thing I already have all of those applications already installed on my phone!! Point is, why would anyone care about having a Gphone?
As Google knows well, the best price for anything is ZERO. However, phone hardware costs money and I am sure that Microsoft, RIM, and Nokia are going to fight tooth and nail to make sure phones running their software are comparably priced to any gPhone. Yet those phones will also sport features and abilities any gPhone may lack. When I buy a gPhone, I can install most of the Google Apps on it. Phone price, design, and hardware features are important. I buy a phone based upon those three categories. I have yet to read anything about how Google will win on any of those fronts.
Everyone knows what Google is doing here and they all know the stakes. No company will cede any turf (although this might push them to change their platforms and grow). I wish Google a lot of luck. They have changed the way many of us think about a lot of things (search, email, and maps come to mind). I hope they do the same for the staid mobile market.