Missing the Point

I’ve read a ton of articles on the T-Mobile G1 this week. It looks like a good piece of hardware with some flaws, most of which are being exaggerated. People are complaing about the lack of a 3.5″ jack, but this is pretty common with HTC products and the G1 comes with an adapter. People are complaining about the lack of a video player, but Google left this up to software developers to avoid licensing fees; I’d be surprised if a good player wasn’t available by the end of the year. A lot of people are saying it’s an ugly device, but I really don’t see anything wrong with its looks; it’s not dazzling, but it’s hardly grotesque. All these complaints aside, people are missing the point — it’s not about the G1, it’s about Android.

I’ve no doubt that most of software shortcomings will be patched up by Android developers. I’ve no doubt that this will happen fairly quickly. This is part of why being an open platform is awesome.

After taking a video tour of the OS, my initial thought was that Android is already simpler and more elegant than Windows Mobile. With the help of developers, it’s potentially more powerful too. While most writers were too busy making reactionary this-sucks-compared-to-iPhone comments, this point passed them by. Like Apple did last year, Google has introduced a v1 mobile OS that’s already superior to Microsoft’s in many ways. It kind of makes you wonder about the WinMo dev-team management….

Most writers were also understating the openness of the platform while they were too busy talking about T-Mobile’s restrictions. Again, this is just reactionary and short sighted. This Time article was the only one I found that put my thoughts into words. While it won’t be quite as drastic as PC vs. Mac, this is where the race is headed. The iPhone is a closed platform where one company dictates the hardware and the software that can run on it. Android is an open platform that will show up on a variety of different devices with different configurations coupled with a potentially large software library. To me, it’s just a more interesting platform with a higher potential for innovation. For developers, coding for Android is more appealing, especially considering Apple’s super-tight policies for its apps. Why waste all this hard work on something that might get randomly pulled from the app store due to a developer agreement that’s extremely vague and open to all sorts of interpretation?

Too bad most of the G1 coverage boiled down to “this ugly thing sucks compared to iPhone” and “those two Google morons wore rollerblades to the presser”, because Android — not the T-Mobile G1 — has a lot of interesting facets to look at and discuss.

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