Google unveiled their new “Android” mobile platform with 33 business partners already hooked on including HTC and Motorola as some of the big guns from the manufacturing industry of handsets carrying the Android OS.
So what is the GPhone and when is it going to be released? Contrary to popular rumors, the GPhone might never exist simply because Google, being the smart guys, knows that quick money can be made on software where the ROI is greater and risks are lower. Which is why, they focused on creating the interactive backbone structure based on Linux and called it Android.
Phone manufacturers and telcoms (cellphone carriers) can dictate what they’d like to see on the phones and how it will appear visually etc but the basic overall platform design is Android. THE GPhone might never be made but you never know. Instead Google prefers to liken all phones running Android as GPhones or equivalents whichever way you see fit.
So the GPhone is the equivalent of a Windows Mobile or a Symbian S60 phone (Sorry Palm. No matter how much I liked you, you’re almost dead because you’ve failed to move on from the year 2002).
The basic requirements of Android are: 200MHz ARM9. Since this is open source screen (sizes) resolutions and QWERTY/number-pad inputs can be tweaked to the OS by the manufacturer.
All this spells bad news for Microsoft’s Windows CE-based “Winows Mobile” OS and a similar blow to Nokia’s Symbian S60 OS. SonyEriccson’s Symbian UI and Palm’s Garnet OS are already on their way six-feet under so this news only adds a turbo-charger to the hearse carrying both mobile operating systems.
In the end, it will be tricky. Here’s my take on how this works out in the market.
Windows Mobile 6: Fan boys will continue to use this operating system but Android will steal many who use WinMo only because Windows like to label their phones with a “smart phone” tag next to the product. Phones running WinMo and S60 are both “smartphones” but a lot of people get easily fooled by mere marketing words.
Symbian S60: Similar to WinMo in terms of fan boy appreciation tactics although Android will manage to steal the few S60 users who only use it for it’s multi-tasking capabilities. Symbian S60 is known for it’s durability unlike the constant resetting required on WinMo devices. The new Nokia N-Gage online mobile gaming system will put up a good fight to Google so this is a 50-50 decision. People who like to play games on the go with 3D hardware acceleration will stick with their Nokia S60 phones (esp the N-series).
Apple iPhone: Apple fan boys will always hold a small niche userbase for Apple products despite the availability of equally cooler or better substitutes out there simply because this is an Apple product. Unfortunately for the iPhone, a lot of users who got it are traditionally non-Apple users and in 1-2 year’s time, the batteries of their iPhones will be dead and that is when a chunk of those first timers will switch over to Android.
Symbian S40: The non-smartphone version of the Symbian-based OS will see a huge migration in users unless the “GPhones” come with a hefty price tag. S40 3rd Edition has made this UI very appeasing to the masses especially in the form of the Nokia 5300 slider music phones but like I said, this category is for price and fashion conscious users. The inclusion of Motorola will mean more fashion-heavy devices will HTC will plunder on the feature-heavy section. Expect this segment to go dead in upcoming years like Palm.
RIM (Research in Motion): Black Berry lovers will originally be split between using a Blackberry which is something they’re used to or the new “GPhones” which does all what RIM puts out and maybe more. Sadly for the Canadian company, there appears to be a high possibility of new and potential RIM users to defect over to Android.
Proprietary UI (User Interface): Users of crappy UI’s on most cheap phones will be undeterred from getting a phone that can do all simply because they’re happy to live with a phone that can store address books and make/receive calls. Large swaths of Motorola Razr, Samsung slider phone lovers, and other fashionistas will make the switch. The grannies however will be happy with their phones that acts and looks like one.