The Apple-Google smartphone battle is officially on: T-Mobile and Google execs, including founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and Android creator Andy Rubin, showed off Google’s first mobile phone this morning in New York, the HTC G1.
The phone will go on sale next month for $180 — about $20 cheaper than its archrival, Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone. We’re still sorting through features and details, but overall, the phone looks impressive.
Key to Google’s success: Whether developers will embrace the Android platform and write neat/useful software the way they’ve put time and money into writing software for the iPhone.
LIVE notes from the press conference:
10:28 Lights dimming, latecomers taking their seats. On today’s agenda: Chats from Cole Brodman, CTO for T-Mobile; Christopher Schläffer, Deutsche Telekom (DT); Andy Rubin, Google’s Android guy; and Peter Chou, CEO of HTC, the company that’s making the G1.
10:30 Eurofunk music. Video showing scenes across Europe and the rest of the world.
10:30 Brodman takes the stage. Welcome, thanks for joining us! “That video cptures the human essence in our need to connect with one another.” Can’t be face to face anymore. Technology has bridged that gap via mobile phone and Internet. Haven’t been able to rely on integration of those two in the past. Here today to change that: New platform, new device, new system, new set of services.
10:31 Introducing the others, who are sitting in the front row. Andy Rubin wearing a suit! Very nice.
10:32 Chris from DT here. Austrian! Not German! Continuing strong tradition of being pioneers of open mobile Internet. Launching the world’s first Android-based phone ,T-Mobile G1, in an exclusive partnership between Google and T-Mobile. For us, this is first because we’re launching the same device on both sides of the Atlantic.
10:33 Come along way with partners and friends at Google in pioneering approach to open up the wireless Internet. Since 2005 first telecom operator to open up, move away from walled gardens/closed portals. Really? We’ll take his word for it. Dress code appears to be suit, no tie today, btw. Think mobile Internet is huge growth opportunity going forward. In Europe, grown mobile data revs without SMS by 43%. Also traffic has grown 250% or so. Needto capitalise further on that opportunitiy.
10:35 Going through history with HTC. Ladies and gentlemen, Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile is committed to open platforms. T-Mobile G1 is a milestone in bringing the open mobile Internet to the mass market. Thank you. Here comes Andy Rubin.
10:36 Rubin takes the stage. On G1, a dev will be able to use as a platform. Dev will also be able to modify the platform and make it better. Somewhat future proof because it has openness built in. So far this is NOT like a Steve Jobs keynote at all. Lots of “open” …
10:37 Peter Chou, CEO of HTC congratulating team on strategy, execution, etc. Tremendous effort to make this Android Open Handset Alliance happen. Good job!
10:38 A variety of Google services, content, etc. for people to use and enjoy. HTC has worked closely with Google and T-Mobile to develop a unique iconic design unlike anything else in the market that will maximise mobile Internet experience with impressive touch experience and a cool keyboard. Will appeal to a broad variety of people.
10:40 Android is nimble, flexible, and powerful. Contributing to a fundamental shift of how people will use the mobile Internet. Lots of hype, we’ll see…
10:40 Cole back on. Started about three years ago, thanking people for their contribution. Why did we invest in the Android platform with HTC and Google? Mobile broadband networks have been around, but what’s been missing is compelling set of devices and services. US Consumers overconsume everything! Yet mobile Internet penetration lags at dismal 16%. Why? Haven’t been that many compelling experiences.
10:41 Open, open, open! Embrace third parties that have driven the creation of the Internet to create new services for mobile Internet.
10:42 No more fuzzy pictures, no more unsubstantiated blog posts, no more rumours! Here it is.
10:43 Video showing lots of iPhone-like features — touch gestures, video, Amazon MP3 store, etc. Now the four guys are on stage posing with the phones like it’s some sort of Olympics medal ceremony. Wow.
10:44 Photo shoot still going on. Guys posing for at least 20 cameras. And counting…
10:45 We’ll all get to photograph it LIVE! later. And use it.
10:45 Another video — the services. Great touch screen. Swiping gestures. Also “long press” to open options and features. Drop picture on your home screen. Drag and drop any application. Amazon MP3 store.
10:46 “Terrific” music player. Music recommendations? “Powerful communicator” with IM.
10:48 Google maps with Street View. Wonder how fast it’ll load over 3G. Compass mode. Pretty cool.
10:48 Zooming in Web browser doesn’t look as elegant as on iPhone. Lags while dragging on video. Search button on keyboard.
10:49 “Copy Link URL!” COPY AND PASTE!!! Get on it, Apple!
10:50 “Always something new to discover.” So whaddya think? Woo! says the audience. “Trust me, it’s a lot of fun.” Cole says he played Pacman for 30 minutes instead of preparing speech notes. But where is SPORE?
10:51 The beauty and magic of android platform is rich toolkit. One thing as humans we can always count on is change. This platform is going to embrace that change by allowing third parties to write whatever they want. From garages to graduate schools, from small towns to big cities, think third parties will drive innovation. SAPPY!
10:52 Another video. Nerds sitting in a room talking about open source. WHAT IS THIS FOR?! MORE PHONE!
10:53 This video is a little ridiculous. Lots of dudes talking about open source. You’re not missing anything. These guys appear to be sitting on an orange/red leather IKEA Klippan couch talking about open source.
10:54 Applause. Cole back on stage.
10:55 Carbon footprint tracking people here. Shopsavvy people too. I think these are Android developer challenge winners. Yes, these are the barcode scanning people. Not sure they they’re not giving demos.
10:56 15-minute Q&A period led by T-Mobile Flack. $179, existing T-Mobile customers can buy. Can order and have it shipped to their phone. October 22. Two very compelling data and messaging plan options. $25 option with limited messaging, web, etc. $35 with unlimited.
10:58 27 3G markets by mid-November. Europe? Keen to lauch in Europe? Is that what he said? UK in November, across europe in Q1 of 2009.
10:59 Rubin: Open sourcing platform. Beyond that, pretty focused roadmap. Going broader with more features and funcitonality. LONG TAIL!
11:00 HTC guy talking about mobile Internet innovation. Very proud of it.
11:00 Now Q&A opening up. Tethered modem? On top of voice plan or just data plan? All in one device; mobile device, not a tethered modem. Data plan will require a voice plan on T-Mobile’s network as well.
11:00 Gartenberg: Any support for Office or Exchange? Can read Word docs and PDF docs; Excel docs. Currently no Exchange compatibility but perfect opportunity for third-party developer. SIM Locked to T-Mobile.
11:02 GMAIL IS PUSH, other IMAP is not.
11:02 Missed this one. Something about syncing. Will be available in markets without 3G. Device also includes wifi.
11:03 Digging a little bit deeper into SIM lock question. How locked is it going to be? With iPhone, space race to unlock, etc. Any comments to that? No guarantees in technology, seen a lot happen in the last year and a half “with the device you mentioned”… $179 is cheap compared to T-Mobile’s full cost; hence is reason we’ve locked it to T-Mobile.
11:04 Google will help marketing starting in October, the biggest marketing campaign T-Mobile has ever launched. Very unique business relationship with Google; not worth commenting on at this point.
11:05 No desktop application; what Bluetooth profiles supported? Device syncs to Google services, also Yahoo, Microsoft and AIM, as far as Bluetooth profiles: headsets, handsfree, others coming later.
11:06 Who device aimed at? Business users? Consumers? Corporate market? How broad? This device going to have “mass appeal.” Something for everybody. Set off in beginning to build a device that appeals to young and social segment. Consumer device, not necessarily enterprise device. But you’ll see enterprise workers use it for that as well.
11:07 More about GMail? Rubin: As far as GMail goes, pretty robust Gmail experience. Same threading; ALLOWS YOU TO SEARCH EMAIL. A lot of email services will be integrated via Gmail powered front-end. IM: First implementation of online presence inside the phone book. More powerful communications services built into phone book.
11:08 Will it work with iTunes? Supports AAC, WMA, MP3, etc, but not iTunes-DRM compatible. Content would have to be DRM-unlocked. No Skype. Will work with any GSM network in the world, then bands that Tmobile will operate on in US, other bands around the world.
11:09 LARRY AND SERGEY! Rushed here from Google Transit launch; very exciting to be here today, says Sergey. What really gives me pleasure: I’m a bit of a geek. The way I grew up playing in college and grad school with computers, mess around with Linux, touch all the parts of the system. Get the same pleasure playing with the G1 here. Have been using it for a while now.
11:11 Sergey wrote an app that lets you throw phone up in the air, measure how many seconds until you catch it or it hits the floor. Exciting to me as a computer geek that I can have a phone I can innovate on as I have with computers in the past. Larry page talking about enjoying using it for email, been giving Andy lots and lots of feedback. Excited about possibilities it means.
11:12 As good a computer as we had a few years ago is in this phone. If asked you guys to do a Web search, coudl see how long it takes. Hard to carry your laptop “especially if you’re rollerblading.”
11:14 We now pause for a very special photo session with everyone holding their phones.
11:15 Press conference over, people filing out and heading down to demo stations.
A few last-minute rumours:
- An Amazon (AMZN) music/video store built in. This seems plausible, as Google doesn’t sell media now, and the G1 could use a media store. Update: The music store is confirmed. Nothing about video, at least so far.
- That GMail access will be offered free, even without a data plan. This does not seem plausible to us, as we doubt T-Mobile will allow people to buy the phone without a data plan; it’s required for most other smartphone purchases, a G1 without the Internet is pretty worthless, and if someone accidentally got online without an unlimited data plan, the overage charges would be obscene. A cheap data plan — $10-$15 per month — seems like a better offer.
We’ll find out soon enough. Stay tuned and start refreshing around 10:30 for LIVE updates.
Preview: The wait is almost over: This morning in New York, Google (GOOG) and T-Mobile will unveil the first Google Android-powered ‘GPhone’, which should probably go on sale in a few weeks for around $200.
We already know what Google’s first Android-powered smartphone looks like, and we’ve got a good handle on some of its basic features, like a touchscreen, big QWERTY keyboard, fast 3G Internet connection (where available), etc. But like Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone, the Gphone’s software is going to be as important — if not more important — than the gadget itself. So in addition to the stuff we’ve already seen, like a nifty Google Maps app, here’s what we’re hoping Google has in store:
- A slick communications suite, including “push” GMail, Google Calendars, and IM. Basically a consumer-oriented BlackBerry service. Perhaps some sort of built-in file syncing between a PC/Mac, the cloud, and your phone — like Apple’s MobileMe, but free, ad-supported… and functional.
- Some buy-in from big game studios like Electronic Arts (ERTS). We’re surprised how much time we’ve spent playing games on the iPhone; Spore, for example, is an addictive time suck. We’re ready for more.
- A Web browser that’s fine-tuned to rock Google’s Web services, like Google Docs.
- Video recording that can upload straight to YouTube.
- A way to sync the Android phone with our Mac/PC that’s as simple and elegant as Apple’s iTunes. No one has come close. (Ideally via wifi/3G, in addition to USB.)
- “Visual voicemail” that transcribes your voicemail into an email.
- Copy and paste. Seriously.
Will we get some or all of these? We’ll see later this morning.
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