The Droid

Verizon has finally gotten what could a be a viable iPhone replacement.  A phone running the latest version of Google’s Andorid OS and a growing supply of applitions.

I haven’t got my hands on one yet, but I’ve read a few reviews that state it stands up quite well in head to head comparisons with the iPhone.  The biggest complaint I’ve heard is that the iPhone has a much deeper pool of applications available.  Not suprising, but I expect the number of Android apps to grow quickly.

Verizon is also pushing its much wider 3G coverage heavily, but it’s still not a GSM network.  That topic has been discussed here, and I’m sure it will again, but I’m still a fan of GSM networks.  It is my opinion that Verizon is going to have to bite that bullet sooner or later.

The Droid phone and its OS have another advantage, open source.  The iPhone is locked down tight by Apple.  It controls your apps, what they can do, and how much data you can transfer over the cell phone network.  An Android based phone, with a SIM slot, is much more flexible.

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Bringing another over to the Dark Side

My brother just bought a shiny new iPhone 3GS.  He had a smart phone, but didn’t like it. The User Experience on that phone just plain sucked.  It wasn’t  just that the phone used the Microsoft WINCE OS, although that is a damn good start for a poor user experience, the had the nasty habit of randomly dialing from his pocket, and loading apps or ending his call while using it as a phone because it thought his ear was the phone’s stylus.

Now, as Leo Leoporte said a few weeks ago, using Apple products is like living in Mussolini’s Italy.   Ya, the trains run on time, but there is some nasty stuff going on to make that happen.  The iPhone UI is second to none for a smart phone, but crap like blocking the Google Voice app and limiting desktop access to iTunes ensures that a good chunk of their user base will switch as soon as a more open alternative has 60% or more of their functionality and a slick user interface (can you say Android kiddies?).

Well, Android isn’t there yet, so I’m still sticking with my iPhone, especially since the camera on it is greatly improved.  I’ve seen posts by multiple professional photographers who have stopped carrying a “pocket camera” all the time, because they think their iPhone is “good enough.”

Here is my entry for a damn good iPhone photograph.

Bad move by Apple

Apple barred the new Google Talk App from the iTunes App Store.

The initial claim was that the app duplicated core services of the iPhone.

To get around Apple’s monopolitics ban, point your iPhone browwer to www.google.com/talk.

There has been other fallout from Apple’s ban, besides pissed off customers, the FCC is asking questions and Google CEO Eric Schmidt resigned from Apple’s Board of Directors.

Then there is also the added buzz about Google Talk this has generated. Perhaps it would have been better for Apple just to have allowed the app in the iTunes app store.

Summer of the Smart Phone

Let’s review what is announced/rumored for this summer.

Palm’s Pre is due out in two days.  Will it be enought to save Palm? Hell, Sprint could use the boost too.

Two days after that,  the new iPhone firmware is release, and probably new iPhone hardware as well.

Later this month, Nokia’s N97 is due out

After that,  Google will release another rev of Android and multiple Android phones will be hitting th streets.

Android marches on

Andy Rubin, Google’s senior director for mobile platforms claims that Android will be on 18-20 mobile phones from over a half dozen manufactures by the end of the year.

It will be interesting to see how much of the iPhone/Blackberry Smart Phone market all the G-Phones manages to get.

Google’s Android on more platforms than WINCE (or Window Mobile, which is what they changed the name to after somebody in Microsoft marketing figured out what WIN CE spelled) and Android starting to crop up on netbooks.  If this isn’t causing people at Microsoft to chug Maalox ™ by now, it should soon.

New iPhone hardware

According to Fortune Magazine, Apple is building 5-6 million new iPhones at their Chinese factories.

The rumor is to expect two new models in either June or July.  One will be faster, with more memory and a better camera at least. The other would be a step backwards, a less powerful, but cheaper model.

Another issue facing Apple & iPhone users is AT&T’s 3G network. It seems AT&T is a bit nervous about millions of new 3G phones hitting it’s network this summer and is rushing to upgrade in order to handle the load.

New iPhone hardware rumors

Apple has changed the rules for the Rev 2, 3G iPhone sales. Customers can buy “unlimited quantities” without the AT&T contract that subsides the price.  This is the same tactic Apple used to clear out Rev 1 hardware before they announced the 3G iPhone.

The Apple Developers Conference, June 8-12, would be a good place announce a new rev of the iPhone hardware that will use the new firmware to the best advantage.  Apple could use a new iPhone to offset the Palm Pre and new Android phones.