Posted tagged ‘G1’

Wal-Mart Delivers iPhones, But AT&T Offers a Special $99 Option

December 30, 2008

Wal-Mart began selling the iPhone on Sunday at more than 2,500 outlets, charging $197 and $297 for the 8 GB and 16 GB models. Those hoping the retailer would discount the Apple handset heavily will have to turn to AT&T, which is offering a black, refurbished 8 GB iPhone 3G for $99 until Dec. 31.

From InformationWeek:

Wal-Mart on Sunday began start selling Apple’s wildly popular iPhone at nearly 2,500 of its stores, but not at the $99 price that was previously expected.The retailer said it would offer Apple’s black 8-GB iPhone 3G model, which also holds about 2,000 songs, for $197. The 16-GB model, which comes in black or white, will be priced at $297. Apple sells its handsets for $199 and $299 for its 8 GB and 16 GB models, respectively.

Consumers would still need to purchase a two-year service agreement from AT&T (NYSE: T), Apple’s U.S. provider. New plans start at $70 per month.

Earlier this month, The Associated Press and Bloomberg news quoted unnamed Wal-Mart employees who said the popular smartphones were expected at heavily discounted prices before the end of the year. However, there was no confirmation that Wal-Mart would offer a $99, 4-GB iPhone.

Still, Wal-Mart has the potential of providing a major boost to iPhone sales. Apple sold 6.89 million iPhones during its last reported financial quarter, which ended on Sept. 27. Apple’s iPhone market share for the first quarter was 19.2%, a drop from 26.7% the quarter before. Only Research In Motion (NSDQ: RIMM)’s BlackBerrysmartphone market. series controls a larger share of the

Despite Wal-Mart’s reputation for pushing prices lower than its competition, consumer can find Apple’s iPhone smartphone for much less elsewhere.

Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) currently sells the 8-GB iPhone for $190 and the 16-GB version for $290 until Dec. 31. That’s $10 less than the usual price found at Apple stores.

The lowest price award, however, goes to AT&T, which is selling refurbished iPhone 3Gs in the black 8-GB version for $99 with a two-year service contract through the end of the year. Previously, AT&T discounted its refurbished iPhones to $149. The wireless telecom is also offering refurbished 16-GB iPhone handsets for $199 during the same time period.

Textecution: No Text For You!

December 23, 2008

Ok, so it was funnier on Seinfeld.

Textecution is a G1 application that will not allow you to send a text message while driving.  The application taps the G1’s GPS, and if your vehicle is traveling at more than 10 miles per hour, it kills text messaging from your mobile.

Very interesting, but will it work? I guess it won’t matter here in California now that texting while driving is illegal as of January 1.

From TechCrunch:

Texting while driving is incredibly dangerous – perhaps moreso than driving under the influence according to some studies – yet it is a widespread habit that is socially acceptable, especially among younger crowds. Some states are finally beginning to outlaw the act, but as with the recent legislation mandating Bluetooth headsets, this will be difficult to enforce.

The solution may wind up coming not from the lawmakers, but from the phones themselves. Technology firm eLYK Innovation has created a $10 application called Textecution for Google’s Android mobile platform that will sit in the background and use the phone’s GPS system to detect whenever the phone is moving faster than 10 MPH, at which time the app will deactivate the phone’s SMS capabilities. Once the phone comes to a standstill (say, at a stop light) the driver will be allowed to text again within a few seconds.

The application has been designed primarily for adults looking to keep their teens (who are apparently most prone to the behavior) in check. When parents install Textecution on their child’s Android phone, they are asked for an ‘admin phone number’, which will be contacted if the child ever needs to temporarily deactivate the app (like if they’re on a train or in the passenger seat). To grant the exception, the parent simply sends an SMS message saying “Allow”.

Unfortunately while Textecution has admirable goals (namely, keeping everyone safer), it has some serious flaws. For one, children can easily remove the application without needing any administrator approval (though the developers are considering implementing tighter restrictions). The exception system is also far from perfect – any teenager who frequently rides trains or as a passenger in a car will be constantly assailing their parents with exception requests and will probably be more likely to simply disable to application than constantly check in for approval.

Android G1 Phone Unlocked and Unleashed on Developers

December 8, 2008

Google is hoping to spur cell phone developers’ creative juices by selling them an unlocked Android G1 handset for $399 that can work with any SIM and includes a system image fully compatible with the operating system. To accommodate demand, Google’s Android Open Handset Alliance Project is limiting sales of the Android Dev Phone 1 to one per customer.

From CNET:

Good news if you’re a developer itching to get your creative developer hands on a T-Mobile G1–and especially good news if you happen to be a developer who lives outside an area covered by T-Mobile. Google has announced a SIM- and hardware-unlocked version of the first Android smartphone.

To get an Android Dev Phone 1, you’ll first need to register as an Android developer on the Android Market site, which entails a one-time setup fee of $25. Then the device will cost you $399 (free shipping here in the States). To accommodate demand, Google says it’s one device per developer account–for now.

The device will be available for purchase in 18 international markets, including the U.S., U.K., Germany, Japan, India, Canada, France, Taiwan, Spain, Australia, Singapore, Switzerland, Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Finland, Poland, and Hungary. And more territories are on the way, Google says.

Android is Here…What Next?

October 22, 2008

T-Mobile USA has made the formal, nationwide launch of its G1. This is the first phone to run Google’s Android operating system. The G1 smartphone is now available to consumers at retail outlets in cities where T-Mobile’s 3G service is available, including Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, and Seattle.

CNET, James Martin

Credit: CNET, James Martin

Google made its first retail sale of the G1 last night in San Francisco. Now that it’s here, the question many will ask is what’s next? Can Android live up to the hype? Will it be an iPhone killer? What should expectations be for this much anticipated device?

From the Associated Press:

Google is jumping into the mobile phone business with its new G1 phone. The G1 is available starting today for $179 with a two-year contract from T-Mobile.

The new gadget features a touch screen, slide-out keyboard and a trackball.

This alternative to Apple’s iPhone is the first cell phone powered by Google’s Android operating system.

From CNET:

Along with 3G support, the HTC-built G1 features a touch screen, a full QWERTY keyboard, and GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connectivity. But the big attraction for many will be the open-source Android software, the means by which Google is seeking to up-end the old ways of the telecommunications business.

The Android mobile operating system is closely tied to Google services and, says CNET News’ Stephen Shankland, it gives the Internet titan yet another way to get people to use them. For instance:

Search ads are, of course, Google’s bread and butter. Android’s Web browser can use others’ search engines, but a secondary part of the G1’s home screen features a prominent Google search box. There’s no option to change the search box to use search from Microsoft or Yahoo.

CNET Reviews, meanwhile, offers this bottom line on the G1 as a phone:

While we’re not in love with the design and would have liked some additional features, the real beauty of the T-Mobile G1 is the Google Android platform, as it has the potential to make smartphones more personal and powerful. That said, it’s not quite there yet, so for now, the G1 is best suited for early adopters and gadget hounds, rather than consumers and business users.

For the full review, see: HTC Dream T-Mobile G1. CNET’s Kent German, too, offers his own assessment: On Call: Welcoming the G1.

From ZDNet:

The excitement the mobile industry feels over delivery of Android software is all about a single number.

The number is 21. That’s the percentage by which AT&T’s wireless profits jumped in the last quarter. The most attractive business, postpaid (long-term) contracts, rose 40%.

During the quarter AT&T activated 2.4 million Apple 3G accounts, 40% of them new customers. Those are killer numbers.

The telecom business has suddenly become a struggle for survival. Shares in all the major wireless carriers are down sharply this year, mostly 30-40%, although Sprint shares are down 70%.

Apple is keeping AT&T afloat in these tough times. Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile can’t compete. Verizon is trying everything it can think of, buying Alltel for its market share, even considering contract-free plans, but nothing is working.

Worse, all carriers are doing expensive network build-outs, increasing the bandwidth they deliver customers using devices that might compete with the Apple 3G. Trouble is nothing does.

It’s not going to just be about price, as Funambol thinks. Handset makers have to deliver something that will encourage the data network use the iPhone stimulates. Some estimate iPhones take 500 times the bits of other mobile users.

In this, Android is not the only option. Carriers are willing to support Windows Mobile, the Blackberry, LiMo phones, even Symbian.

From InternetNews.com:

The arrival Wednesday of the T-Mobile G1, the first Android smartphone, marks the debut of the most open mobile operating system yet.

Android’s creators – the Open Handset Alliance (OHA), Google and T-Mobile – have pledged to fully support third-party application development, promising no one will dictate what users can download to the G1, or what developers can upload to the Android Market storefront.

Such openness is aimed at advancing mobile applications, fostering innovative services and, of course, becoming the ‘game changer’ in a competitive and crowded smartphone market.

Apple’s success with its popular consumer-friendly iPhone, and RIM’s (NASDAQ: RIMM) leading enterprise device, the BlackBerry, are proof that tight development and security controls can prove successful.

In fact, RIM’s co-CEO noted today at the vendor’s first developer conference that BlackBerry is known as “the” secure enterprise device.

Android leaders don’t dispute security is a critical smartphone aspect. Google has put a ‘kill switch’ clause within Android’s Market service agreement that states Google can and will remove applications that have a “malicious intent.”

But the search giant and its Android partners have also made it clear they won’t be policing and patrolling applications as closely as Apple or RIM. At the G1 product launch event last month the companies said they would not prohibit third-party Skype applications that would allow voice communications away from T-Mobile’s network.

Google Android Invasion…

October 21, 2008

T-minus 24 hours until Android arrives. Less than a year after announcing Android, the open-source phone operating system intended to jump-start the mobile Internet, Google began sharing the project’s underlying source code. The Android Open Source Project site includes a project list, a feature description, a guides to the roles people can have in the project and how to contribute, and of course the Android source code itself.

From IDG News Service:

Google planned to announce on Tuesday that the source code for its mobile operating system, Android, is now available for anyone to use free.

The move was expected, although the timing was uncertain.

Developers can find the source code on the Web site for the Android Open Source Project.

“An open-sourced mobile platform, that’s constantly being improved upon by the community and is available for everyone to use, speeds innovation, is an engine of economic opportunity and provides a better mobile experience for users,” said Andy Rubin, senior director of mobile platforms for Google, in a statement.

But Google’s model for Android has some critics. The LiMo Foundation, which publishes specifications for middleware for mobile Linux devices, and of which Google is not a member, says that Google’s model might be too open.

From CNET:

Google has one team of programmers building the software and another professional services group to help support phone makers building Android phones. Now, though, as T-Mobile’s G1 arrives on the market, Google hopes to multiply that by drawing upon the collective energy of outside contributors to the project.

“Our plan is a launching point for a much more vibrant open-source community,” said Rich Miner, vice president of Google’s mobile platforms business. “For the past almost four years, this has been a large effort between Google and our partners. There have been a lot of people working on the code, but that’s going to be multiplied by several orders of magnitude.”

Open-source software can be freely used, modified, and redistributed by anyone, freedoms that make it a daunting competitor to proprietary software companies that charge for the code. Although open-source software rarely has been the sole basis for a thriving company, it can be a powerful tool to aid a broader agenda. Sophisticated technology companies such as IBM, Oracle, and even Apple often subsidize open-source projects for that reason, and Android fits into that category.

The first Google Android phone isn’t yet on the market but the G1 goes on sale in the U.S. from T-Mobile tomorrow. Journalists were first able to publish their reviews of the phone last week.

Here’s the press release from Google:

Google and the Open Handset Alliance Announce Android Open Source Availability

Today, Google and the Open Handset Alliance announced the availability of the Android platform source code to everyone, for free, under the new Android Open Source Project. This represents the first truly open and fully featured mobile platform which will enable people to create a mobile device without restrictions, build applications that run on Android powered devices, and contribute to the core platform.

As an open source project, anyone can contribute to Android and influence its direction. It means that anyone can download, build, and run the code needed to create a complete mobile device. With an open source platform, developers, OEMs, carriers and code contributors are given the opportunity to build faster, cheaper and more innovative devices and services.

Android is a complete, end-to-end software platform that can be adapted to work on any number of hardware configurations. Having an open source mobile platform will dramatically reduce the time and resources required to bring mobile devices to market. Handset manufactures can access a complete, full featured mobile stack without any barriers and get a head-start in creating as contemporary a device that they want to build. Developers for the first time can contribute code, with a full set APIs that allows the platform to host applications written by third-party developers and carriers can offer faster, cheaper and more innovative devices and services.

“Open source allows everyone and anyone equal access to the ideas and innovation that can make good products great,” said Andy Rubin, senior director of mobile platforms, Google. “An open sourced mobile platform, that’s constantly being improved upon by the community and is available for everyone to use, speeds innovation, is an engine of economic opportunity and provides a better mobile experience for users.

With the availability of Android to the open source community, consumers will start to see more applications like location-based travel tools, games and social networking offerings available to them directly; cheaper and faster phones at lower costs; and a better mobile web experience through 3G networks with richer screens.

The code can be found under the Android Open Source Project, the open source initiative for Android now available at source.android.com.

Motorola Preparing Its Own Google Android Phone

October 20, 2008

Motorola is reportedly making its own version of a phone based on Google’s Android operating system and is expected to release the handset in mid-2009. The device will likely house such features as a touch-screen interface, slide-out keyboard and social-network-related applications. Without detailing its intentions, Motorola stated that it was excited about the innovation possibilities on Android and look forward to delivering great products in partnership with Google.

From BusinessWeek:

As the wireless world awaits the Oct. 22 debut of the first phone based on the Google-backed Android software, engineers at Motorola are hard at work on their own Android handset. Motorola’s version will boast an iPhone-like touch screen, a slide-out qwerty keyboard, and a host of social-network-friendly features, BusinessWeek.com has learned.

Motorola has been showing spec sheets and images of the phone to carriers around the world in the past two months and is likely to introduce the handset in the U.S. sometime in the second quarter of 2009, according to people familiar with Motorola’s plans. Building a phone based on the highly anticipated Android operating system is part of Motorola’s effort to revive a loss-making handset division that has forfeited market share amid a drought of bestselling phones. Motorola stock, which on Oct. 17 rose a penny to 5.62, is hovering near a 16-year low.

The phone will appear among a new class of social smartphones designed to make it easy for users to connect quickly and easily to mobile social networks such as Facebook and News Corp.’s MySpace. Such phones let users message in-network friends directly from phone contact lists, for example. A Facebook representative declined to comment on the company’s work with Motorola. MySpace.com didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Motorola declined to elaborate on its plans, but said in a statement: “We’re excited about the innovation possibilities on Android and look forward to delivering great products in partnership with Google” and the community of developers known as the Open Handset Alliance that are working on the Android operating system.

From InformationWeek:

More specs of the Android-based phone from Motorola have hit the Webosphere and the news is looking good. The phone will have a large touchscreen, a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and will undercut the HTC G1 by $30.

We already know that Motorola is working on an Android phone. Recently, we learned that the phone will provide access to social networking services. BusinessWeek has confirmed this, and that the phone will have a touchscreen similar to the iPhone and also a QWERTY keyboard for easier text input. According to the BW report, insiders say the device will bear similar design language as the recently-announced Motorola Krave ZN4.

Word is that the phone will have a higher-end look when compared to the HTC G1, which goes on sale starting this week. While the G1 will sell for about $180 after rebates with new contract, the as-yet unnamed Motorola Android phone will be priced at the $150 level.

What we don’t know is what network technology the Motorola Android phone will use. The HTC G1 uses the GSM system, and is compatible with networks worldwide. Given the large number of European companies invovled in the Open Handset Alliance, it would make sense for Motorola to choose GSM-based networking technologies for its device, as opposed to the CDMA-based technology used by Sprint and Verizon Wireless.

The bad news is that the phone won’t be ready until some time in the second quarter of 2009, which could easily put it as much as six months behind the G1’s launch. We don’t know if this is because Motorola started developing later for the Android than HTC did or simply because Motorola is taking its time to make sure things turn out as good as possible.

From GigaOM:

Sanjay Jha, who now heads up Motorola’s handset business (which is likely to be spun out some time soon), was another proponent of Android, back when he was the COO of Qualcomm. (Related: GigaOM Interview with Sanjay Jha.) Here are some notable bits about the upcoming phone:

  • Motorola is showing specs and images to carriers.
  • The phone could be introduced sometime in second quarter of 20098.
  • The phone will have a touchscreen the size of iPhone screen and a slide-out qwerty keyboard.
  • The phone will focus on social networking features.
  • The team spearheading the Android development is the one that came to Motorola via acquisition of Good Technology.

The new phone based on Android may not be such a bad idea for Motorola, but the company needs to rationalize its vast array of devices that use an equally confusing number of operating systems. In addition to Android, Motorola has two different Linux efforts — its internal version and LiMo-based Linux devices — as well as Motorola’s proprietary operating system, Qualcomm’s Brew and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile.

From CRN:

While Motorola has declined to specify its plans, it issued a statement saying, “We’re excited about the innovation possibilities on Android and look forward to delivering great products in partnership with Google,” BusinessWeek.com reported, indicating that Motorola has been showing wireless carriers spec sheets and images of the device, which is expected to hit the U.S. market in the second quarter of 2009.

Word of Motorola’s first Android-based device comes just weeks after reports surfaced noting that the Schaumburg, Ill.-based handset maker is trumping up its Android development team by assembling a group of up to 350 Android developers to reinvigorate its struggling mobile device business. The added developers will bulk up Motorola’s Android team from the 50 members it has today.

Motorola’s Android device will pit it head-to-head against other touch-screen titans that have recently stormed the market in attempts to dethrone Apple’s 3G iPhone from its spot at the top. As a sort of prelude, Motorola last week released its first-ever touch-screen phone, the Motorola Krave, which launched Oct. 14 on Verizon Wireless.

From CNET:

Motorola’s Android phone, according to the report, is expected to feature a touch screen similar to Apple’s popular iPhone, as well as a slide-out QWERTY keyboard that allows users to connect to such social-networking sites as MySpace and Facebook. It is unclear how similar it will be to T-Mobile USA’s newly released G1 phone, manufactured by HTC, which also uses Android.

The phone is anticipated to make its U.S. debut in the second quarter of next year, according to sources cited in the BusinessWeek report, which noted that carriers have already seen spec sheets and images of the devices.

Motorola’s Android phone may carry a price of approximately $150 to $180, with a two-year carrier contract, according to the report.

Kill Switch Featured in Google Android Platform

October 16, 2008

It appears that just like Apple’s iPhone, Google Android will in fact contain a kill switch as well. People weren’t happy to hear about this when it came out with the iPhone. I wonder what they’ll say with the news from Google?

From Computerworld:

An uproar erupted when iPhone users discovered a so-called remote kill switch on their phones — will it spur the same reaction in users of the G1, the first Android phone?

In the Android Market terms of service, Google expressly says that it might remotely remove an application from user phones. “Google may discover a product that violates the developer distribution agreement … in such an instance, Google retains the right to remotely remove those applications from your device at its sole discretion,” the terms, linked to from the phone, read.

That item is one of a few hints of things to come in the “About phone” section of the device, which also alludes to some hitherto unknown people and companies that were instrumental in developing the software.

From Daily Tech:

The news that Apple’s iPhone had a kill switch built in that could destroy users apps that they had bought and paid for was at first met with incredulity. When users discovered that the rumors were indeed true, they reacted with shock and anger. Now Google has a similar situation brewing after it was revealed that its G1 phone which features its Android OS has a similar kill switch.

The tidbit was gleaned from the user contract terms of Google’s Android Market, which it uses to sell software, similar to Apple’s App Store. The terms stated that Google can remotely kill your programs, describing, “Google may discover a product that violates the developer distribution agreement … in such an instance, Google retains the right to remotely remove those applications from your device at its sole discretion.”

While the G1 phone from T-Mobile does not go on sale till October 22, many have been lent to reporters, so detailed information is becoming available. While some may be angry at Google’s decision, others are saying Google is treating the issue in more of a sensitive manner than Apple. Google is acknowledging the kill switch for Android at the time of release. Apple, critics point out, only acknowledged that a kill switch existed when a developer discovered it and loudly pronounced its existence to the internet community.

Also Google says that it will try to refund users for any deleted Apps. While this sounds common sense, iPhone users have yet to discover if they will get anything back if Apple deletes their Apps. Google, on the other hand, says it will make “reasonable efforts to recover the purchase price of the product … from the original developer on your behalf.” It will recover as much as it can from the developer and if it cannot offer a full refund it will redistribute whatever it collects to give a partial refund.

The kill switch also makes more sense as Android is decidedly more dangerous when it comes to applications. It does not pre-screen its applications like Apple — anything can be sold on its market. This raises the possibility of malicious applications. Google has given no indication that it will delete or prevent the release of applications that overlap its products, something Apple has actively done.

Google is also kind enough to provide users with a 24-hour satisfaction guarantee, where unsatisfied users can return their application in this timeframe for a full refund. Android Market users also get access to an unlimited number of downloads for their purchased programs, helpful in the case of phone loss or failure.

From InformationWeek:

This isn’t going to make people happy. Remember the furor when people discovered that Apple could remotely kill applications running on iPhones? Well,Google has decided to implement the same type of action. It can remove programs it deems “bad” from your HTC G1.

Similar to the Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ philosophy on the matter, if and when a program is discovered that breaks the rules, Google wants to be able to pull the plug on that program. Most of the time, this will likely be to the benefit of the end user, who otherwise may wind up with a bricked Android. That’s not going to stop people from wondering about Google’s real intents or purposes behind the clause in the Android Market’s terms of service.

Remember your motto, Google: Don’t Be Evil.