Where the T-Mobile G1 Fails

And so it was, that on the 23rd day of September in the year of our lord 2008 that Google entered the mobile space with the T-Mobile G1. Having spent a good couple of hours reading every review, staring at every picture, and watching some neat videos, I haven’t changed my mind from yesterday: the G1 is NOT an iPhone killer.

There are positives and you can read them in JR’s earlier Android G1 post. No one would argue that the OS isn’t impressive because it clearly is, but there’s also bucket loads of fail in this first offering, and here’s where the T-Mobile G1 fails.

No Exchange support

My initial reaction here was along the lines of “WTF, are Google completely insane!” and an hour or two later the reaction remains the same. The G1 doesn’t offer Exchange support, which like it or not is the cornerstone of business email. The original iPhone didn’t either, but the second incarnation does. Not offering Exchange support severely cripples the G1 as a Blackberry competitor, where as its marriage of an iPhone like OS and practical hardware with a real keyboard, it could have been a Blackberry killer.

While Google offering strong links to its own products may make sense for Google as a tie-in that benefits its product line up, the mobile phone business isn’t the desktop or browser, and pushing these products instead of offering Exchange as an option makes absolutely no sane business sense.

Memory/ Music

The G1 offers an abysmal 1gb of memory, although capacity can be expanded to 8gb via a mini-SD card. The problem is that if we take the business market out of the equation (see the previous point) you’re left with a consumer market play. And what are consumers looking for in a phone today, particularly post iPhone launch? memory, and lots of it, to store their music. Apple quickly killed the iPhone 4gb when they discovered it wasn’t selling, and although they offer two phones in the iPhone 3G, the 16gb model is the stronger seller. Now not everyone needs that amount of memory for their music collections, but 1gb doesn’t go far at all. Presented with two phone options, one with a “basic music player” as Walt Mossberg called it with 1gb of memory, or a phone with 16gb of memory that is a full blown iPod as well, which phone will people pick? Mossberg may say the G1 offers the iPhone competition, but it won’t be in the consumer market of music listeners who want their music on their phones.

Data/ speed

AT&T and Apple took a hard kicking in the press this year over 3G data coverage and data speeds on the new iPhone. We know that part of the problem was hardware related, and if you’re in a coverage area now with the latest iPhone OS installed, you’ll be experiencing less problems, but there’s still the issue of network coverage. Unlike 2/2.5G GSM, 3G coverage in the United States lags behind the rest of the world, but some networks are better than others.

To quote Walt Mossberg

Finally, a word about networks. In the U.S., the G1 will initially only be available on T-Mobile, whose high-speed 3G network will be up and running in many fewer cities than those of its larger rivals, AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ).

So if you’re considering a G1 for data because you have a use for mobile data (or simply like having access to it) and you want high speed access, the G1 isn’t going to work for you unless you live in selected coverage areas.

Other areas

There are other areas with concern with the phone and the community around it. While the Android Marketplace may offer open access, others are arguing that developers will likely favor the iPhone due to the money some are making from the iPhone app store.

The phone doesn’t offer a video player and only basic multimedia functions (naturally YouTube is built in). The marketplace will offer choices here, but out of the box the G1 doesn’t offer a strong range of apps.

And I nearly forgot: non-standard headphone jack…why?

Conclusion

While the Android operating system offers a glimpse of something great, the G1 has been retarded by a HTC phone that fails to deliver on hardware or looks, coupled with some strange decisions from Google that handicap the phone even more. Having said that, when has Google ever really launched a product and got it right the first time, and yet slowly but surely they build marketshare. Android the platform has a strong future, it’s just not going to be with this phone.

Also see Mark Rizzn Hopkins for a different take.