The hype is building and this is both good and bad for Google. When something gets so hyped up it can be hard to meet expectations. People who don’t usually follow techy things are mentioning Android. Let’s face it, everyone loves Google and for a lot of people they have changed the way we use the Internet. For a smaller number of us Google has changed how we do email, how we work with documents and how we stay organized with its plethora of tools and widgets. Google has become the Swiss Army knife for the Internet, so of course we have high hopes for Android.
Google thinks the future of the web is mobile.
Christmas Day 2007 offered Google proof that the strategy could work. That morning, people unwrapped their iPhones, powered them up, clicked on the easy-to-use Safari browser — and pointed to Google. In 24 hours, the iPhone, which accounted for fewer than 5 percent of all smart phones worldwide, drove more traffic to Google than any other mobile device.
This is from Wired; they have a fantastic seven page article on Android titled Google’s Open Source Android OS Will Free the Wireless Web. This article is a must read for anyone interested in the story of Android, how it got to where it is today, and where they plan to be in the future. It also covers the challenges and battles Google may face in the near future.
Google has major backing for Android, you can check out the member list on the Open Handset Alliance website. The handset manufactures include HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung. The phone I am looking forward to seeing the most is the HTC Touch phones which I have talked about in the past. Right now they use Windows Mobile, but they are actively developing their Android phone and hope to have it out in the latter half of this year.
The most unfriendly obstacle facing Google is convincing the carriers. Some are on board, but the large ones are not. Living in Canada I know all too well what overpriced Telecoms like Rogers, Bell and Telus do for innovation and brand loyalty. With many brands and companies people use them because they like them, they have brand loyalty. People use Google because they love to use it and it does what they want. We buy certain electronic brands because we choose too. We use the carriers we use because we have too. The carriers are afraid of becoming irrelevant, and I think they are paving the way for this to become a reality.
A smart phone is about so much more than just a voice plan. Companies like Bell are actually losing when they win. A lot of people with cell phones are switching off their home phones, in Canada that is usually a phone plan with Bell. Right now my home phone costs 45 dollars a month. All I have is voice mail and the ability to call people. That’s not much for 45 dollars. A smart phone can get me 24/7 access to the web, email connectivity, voice, video, photos and more. The days of the home phone are numbered.
Time for innovation
I think now is the time for the carriers to innovate and realize that the average person doesn’t like their carrier. Change your face, come up with something new, team up with other online services and offer cool products at the tap of a button. Stop trying to trick your customer! Confusing data plans, complicated service charges and activation fees annoy customers. When I look at my regular home phone bill I don’t understand it, why does a phone bill have to be so convoluted. Tell me how much I have to pay for what I want and give me a single number. If you sell me an unlimited plan, don’t put an asterisk at the end and send me a bill when I go over the hidden limit. You are either unlimited or you are not! Make us like you and want to use your service. Honest service plans would be a great start.
As the Wired article mentions, Google is a big company and they would like to play nice, but if they have too they can get mean. They have money and have already tried to buy their own air space and probably won’t give up trying. There’s also the chance of wider Wi-Fi coverage at cheaper prices. The telecoms can either play fair now, or suffer the possible consequences in the future. I don’t hear a lot of nice thing said about the US carriers either.
The stagnation of innovation in the wireless arena is a direct result of artificial lock downs by these companies. When I read about some of the amazingly cool applications to appear from the community of developers all around the world I know that this is the way things should be done. I think Google has a new way of looking at things. Innovation should never be held back for anything, and it so often is because of narrow mindedness. Instead of innovating most of these companies go into a protectionist mode. The same applies for so many other industries, it’s the same reason we use dirty oil in our cars. Innovation is being held back because people are afraid they will lose out. Instead, we should all be thinking about how much we have to gain from new technology.
Can’t stop my buzz
Google has me excited, and the buzz is growing rapidly. I may give in and get an iPhone, since that’s a technology I can get my hands on in the coming weeks, but Android is on my radar, not only as a consumer, but as a web designer and developer too. People in these fields need to stay alert as we will most likely be building the web for these devices in the near future.