Google Android – prepare to be underwhelmed

As I see it, the U.S. smartphone market is boiling down to two camps—the Apple iPhone camp and the RIM BlackBerry crowd. Sure, Microsoft has a whole collection of able smartphones, but no one talks about them in the hushed, awe-filled tones they use for those from Apple and RIM. Starting next week, however, we’ll have a new, upstart platform to contend with: Google Android.

The midweek announcement from T-Mobile and Google is generating nearly as much buzz as the very first iPhone launch over a year ago, though I’m not expecting earth-shattering innovation from the phone.

There will be an abundance of Web-based functionality, most of it coming via the Google pipeline.
Yes, there will be a Google apps store, but no one seems to know just how free and easy Google Android phones will be when it comes to customizability. Carriers are notorious for locking down phones. However, I have a feeling that when T-Mobile signed on to the Google Android train it promised to make its first Android phone as flexible as possible, or at least guarantee that it could download, install, and run whatever new Google Android apps come its way.

Most of these details sound good, but what’s in it for the user? In view of the surprisingly large number of people out there still using basic “dumb” phones—those that do not allow for adding new features—I have to wonder: How many people are really itching for their own “Android”..?

As always, consumers know what they want to do: They want to make calls, text message, and access some basic online information. A second, more tech-savvy, tier will also want some true productivity from their phones. The variety of form factors and platforms, and of the abilities and limitations of each, is already daunting. Google, T-Mobile, and the Google Android phone definitely complicate matters further.

I probably would have skipped this article altogether except for the fact that it’s written by Lance Ulanoff. He drives JCD crazy – sometimes. And – sometimes – I agree with his tech analysis.

Poisonally, I intend to wait and see what is offered as Android 1.0 – one will probaby show up in the family by the time they get to 2.0 and $99-129. We are pretty much a T-Mobile family.

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