Google’s (GOOG) first Android-powered ‘GPhone’ smartphone goes on sale tomorrow, and one of its more promising features is its iPhone-like mobile software “Market” — free of some of Apple’s (AAPL) restrictions, like an agonizing approval process; or limitations, like only being able to run one app at a time.
But so far, there’s not much there. The only sorta-big-name software companies we could find:
- imeem’s mobile Internet radio service, which lets you stream Internet radio channels that match up with your taste in music. Works hand-in-hand with imeem’s Web site, and sounds good, but carries restrictions associated with its copyright licensing, like only being able to skip six songs per hour, per station. One nice touch: You can run it in the background to listen to music while you’re doing other stuff, which you can’t do on an iPhone.
- MySpace mobile, which lets you browse a lo-fi version of News Corp.’s (NWS) MySpace from your phone. Nothing impressive.
- Shazam, one of our favourite apps for the iPhone, which tells you what song you’re listening to in a bar, in the car, etc.
- A few weather apps, including Accuweather and The Weather Channel.
- Facebook, which has always been a more popular download on the iPhone than MySpace’s app. (Note that Facebook’s iPhone Web app does work pretty well on the Android-powered T-Mobile G1.)
- Other Internet radio services like Last.fm, Pandora, AOL Radio, etc.
- Games from major publishers like Electronic Arts (ERTS) or Sega. We’ve really enjoyed playing EA’s “Spore” on the iPhone, and we’re hoping that games like that will make it to Google’s platform, too.
- A good solitaire game. The one that’s there, “CB Klondike” from Hudson Soft, is terrible. (Meanwhile, the excellent Sol Free for the iPhone appears to be the game of choice on the NYC subway system.)
It’s possible more titles will trickle out in the next few days. But we assume most commercial publishers — especially game makers — will take some time to roll out their software for Android. Why? The addressable commercial market is still tiny. And, perhaps more important, there’s no way to sell apps, yet — only allow free downloads. Once EA can sell a game for $9.99, and once a million people are using Android, we might see more ambitious games.
The good news for Google: While the app Market is a nice feature, its launch lineup won’t make or break Google’s long-term chances in the smartphone market. Buyers will be more interested in how well Google’s built-in phone, messaging, email, calendar, mapping, and Web browsing features work — so far, so good — than what third-party apps they can download right away.
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