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The real power of Google's phone: connecting us to people, places, and things

The real power of a Google phone and the Android mobile operating system isn’t just computing power, or search, or advertising, or maps. It’s the ability to connect people, places, and things like never before.

With the introduction Tuesday of the Google phone — dubbed G1 by wireless carrier T-Mobile — we’re  starting to see the potential disruption that Google and Android will bring in the coming year or two. It’s even greater than what Apple and the iPhone have already accomplished.

Together, the so-called Google phone and the iPhone are disrupting the mobile industry with innovative, powerful, handy devices, applications, and services.  Side by side, the Gphone and the iPhone have their differences but overall compliment one another, not compete with each other.

The iPhone is not unlike Apple, which is known for exquisitely designed hardware, user-friendly software, and a user experience like no other. The iPhone has a consumer, digital lifestyle feel to it, just like Apple products.

The Google phone, on the other hand, is not unlike “PC” in the famed “Mac” vs. “PC” television ads. This is not to say, however, that Google is Microsoft. Far from it.

The G1 — at least from what we’ve seen so far — has a “productivity” air to it, which is expected due to the nature of Google. The Android operating system, and the phone’s hardware, was developed first and foremost to showcase what Google does best — search along with Web applications like Maps, YouTube, Google Reader, Gmail, Calendar.

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The roundup of roundups: Everything you want to know about the Google phone (with links!)

In case you haven’t heard, T-Mobile announced the world’s first — and for the time being, only — cell phone powered by Google’s open-source, mobile operating system today amid much pomp and circumstance.

Cue the band.

You can spend hours thumbing through your bookmarks or RSS feeds looking for and reading about the new T-Mobile/Google phone, dubbed the G1. Most everybody is writing about the same thing — the specs, the looks, the apps, the Android operating system.

But there are a few posts out there looking at the G1 from various other perspectives — advertising, search, what’s missing, and so on. To save you a few minutes, we’ve combed through the basics, looked under the hood just a bit, hit on the basic apps, and compiled other posts of interest for your reading pleasure.

So off we go.

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Time for the big reveal: T-Mobile to introduce first Google Android phone

In the language of reality TV, it’s time for the big reveal. Ladies and gentlemen — drum roll please — T-Mobile presents the first cell phone powered by Google’s much-ballyhooed mobile operating system, Android.

Formal introductions will be made at 10 a.m. EST in New York. But, unlike the super-secret debut of Apple’s iPhone in June 2007, lots is known about the so-called Google phone even before its reveal.

It will be known as the G1, but popular culture is sure to call it the first Google phone, gPhone, or Gphone. So, without further delay, here’s the Gphone brought to you by the carrier T-Mobile and hardware manufacturer HTC.

G1 Specs

No surprise here: The G1 will sell for $199 (the same as the iPhone) with a low-cost data plan (which remains to be detailed).

According to TmoNews, the phone is 4.6 x 2.16 x 0.63 inches, weighs 5.6 ounces, an features a 480 x 320 HVGA display. Of course it uses the 3G network, has built-in GPS, has a 3.1-megapixel camera, has 8 GB of memory, has five hours of talktime and 130  hours of standby (we’ll see about that).

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iTunes, financial woes, and Tina Fey/Sarah Palin give NBC super-successful week

If anybody has any lingering doubts about iTunes’ value to NBC, and NBC’s value to iTunes, doubt no more.

Since returning to iTunes Sept. 9 after nearly a year’s separation, NBC racked up more than one million downloads for NBC Universal shows, according to the Hollywood Reporter and Apple.

The spike most likely is a result of a free-offering agreement between NBC and Apple as part of the network’s return to iTunes. NBC pledged to offer one free standard or high-definition download for its top series for two weeks.

It’s worth noting, however, that these numbers were achieved without NBC’s popular programs, which have yet to premiere. It’s expected that NBC Universal will account for about 40 percent of iTunes video sales, the level it was at when the network left  late last year over a pricing disagreement.

The Reporter also noted that NBC benefited in two other ways this week — the U.S. financial crisis and Tina Fey’s parody of vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin on “Saturday Night Live.” exceeded one million unique visitors for the first time after Monday’s stock market meltdown. The Website tallied 14.6 million page views that day, a 26 percent increase over the site’s previous best.

Fey’s dead-on depiction of Palin racked up 5.7 million views on and Hulu as of Wednesday, according to NBC data. It is the network’s most popular video of all-time — and if you’ve seen it, you know why.

NBC continues experiment by putting TV shows online before their network premiers

If you just can’t wait to see what the new “Knight Rider” or “Chuck” TV shows are all about, you’re in luck. For the third consecutive year, NBC is making new series available online a week before their network premiers.

You can also find “Kath & Kim,” “Crusoe,” “My Own Worst Enemy,” “Life,” Lipstick Jungle,” and “30 Rock” everywhere you look — NBC’s Website, iTunes, Amazon’s Unbox, Microsoft Xbox and Zune, Hulu, and through TV providers such as Comcast, Cox, Charter, Dish, and Verizon FIOS.

Did NBC leave anybody out?

“We want to make (programs) available in as many ways as we can so we can get fans,” NBC’s marketing boss John Miller told USA Today. “If you don’t embrace people’s behavior, you can be lost by it.”

NBC’s early-release strategy is at odds with most other networks.

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The Google phone is on its way: a checklist for success

The long-awaited Google phone will be announced next Tuesday, so says the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and the rest of the Web. The phone, which features the first release of the Android operating system, will be available near the end of October.

Coincidentally, Google today showed off a fairly polished version of Android and its HTC-manufactured hardware at Google’s Developer Day conference in London. Check out the YouTube demo video for details.

The upcoming news conference and the nearing release date got me thinking about what I’d like to see in the first Google phone. What I want isn’t a wish list, per se, but more of a checklist.

Here goes.

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Attention classical music fans: Passionato is open for business — but only in the U.K.

Almost a year ago, Deutsche Grammophon launched the Web’s best classical music store, DG Web Shop. Passionato, a new classical music download site, aims to take over.

Passionato provides the world’s largest collection of high quality classical music downloads with more than 18,000 recordings available. Unfortunately or unfortunately, depending on which side of the pond you live on, Passionato is available only in the U.K., with plans to expand to the U.S. and elsewhere at a later date.

Passionato downloads are single tracks, albums, or complete works in high quality 320kbps MP3 or lossless FLAC formats. These — three cheers! — are available free of digital rights management, meaning they can be played on any computer or portable music device, including the iPod.

Founder James Glicker, a former president of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, hopes to boost the classical music industry, which, like the rest of the physical music world, is sagging. Catalogs from major classical labels and independents will be sold at the site.

“This is a major motivation for us,” Glicker told the BBC of Passionato’s desire to boost the classical music industry. “It’s ironic that while classical music concert attendance is on the rise, labels are reducing their recordings and physical retailers are shutting down like there is no tomorrow.

“So the future of classical music distribution is online,” he said. “The only thing that has stopped this inevitable shift from happening to date has been audio quality, plus the DRM issue.”

To promote classical music — and, of course, Passionato — anybody registering with the site can download 10 free pre-selected tracks. Not a bad deal, if you like classical music. And live in the U.K.

"Family Guy's" MacFarlane debuts "Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy" on Web

Seth MacFarlane, the creator of “Family Guy,” launched his Google-distributed “Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy” today in which Super Mario rescues the Princess, who refuses to kiss him for his trouble.

It wasn’t bad. The sketch was short, bite-sized, and worth a laugh or two at the end. If it follows MacFarlane’s work with “Family Guy,” the “Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy” will only get funnier and, most likely, crude and rude.

What’s interesting about the “Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy” — available at and the show’s sponsor Burger King’s YouTube channel — is that it’s a part of the Google Content Network, which is a part of Google’s AdSense Network.

The Google deal calls for 50 mini-episodes, ranging from a minute to no more than two. For now, the two available episodes feature a pre-roll sponsorship ad from Burger King animated in MacFarlane’s “Family Guy” style of animation.

MacFarlane and Google expect the “Cavalcade of Comedy” shorts to populate the Internet as fans can embed their favorite episodes on thousands of Websites and blogs. As Ars Technica notes, the interesting part of the MacFarlane-Google experiment is revenue distribution.

Each time someone clicks on a “Cavalcade” video or ad, advertisers will pay a fee that is split between MacFarlane, Google, Media Rights (the production company), and the site hosting the video.

MacFarlane’s “Cavalcade” is a notable experiment in original Internet distribution for a content creator, Google, and the TV industry. It’s the first series with major advertising and production funding.

And it doesn’t hurt to have MacFarlane behind the art board.

Comscore estimates 5 billion videos were watched on YouTube in July

We’re obsessed with keeping score. And not just in sports. In politics, movie box office takes, the number of times Meredith and McSteamy glance longingly at each other in “Grey’s Anatomy.”

And YouTube. We love to see the YouTube balloon keep expanding, which means that online video is growing, breaking into the mainstream even more, and will one day rule the networks.

Comscore issued its July Website traffic and online video report and one number stands out: 5 billion. Comscore estimates that U.S. online videoaholics watched an average of 235 minutes of video, with 91 million viewers watching 5 billion videos on YouTube.

That’s 54.8 videos per viewer. In one month.

Just for grins, 51.4 million viewers watched 400 million videos on MySpace, about 8 videos per viewer.

Overall, Comscore says that 75 percent of the total U.S. Internet audience watched online video in July.

Marshall Kirkpatrick over at ReadWriteWeb asks a question that has been on my mind for a while: How accurate are the Comscore numbers? Are they any better than Hitwise, another analyst firm that has argued the online video market in general is declining — except for YouTube.

Numbers and statistics, of course, are subject for interpretation and barroom debate. The trend I see is right here in the house: The Kid, now a freshman in high school, has been spending even more time than usual watching YouTube videos. So are her friends. No one comes over any more to hang out and watch TV or a movie. They hang out and watch YouTube.

It’s The Kid’s TV channel of choice. After all, you can only watch MadTV’s “Can I Get Your Number” sketch twice — once if you happen to catch the original airing and a second time in rerun. On the Web and on YouTube, you can watch it over, and over, and over, and over.

Apple's line of iPods still rock, but not like they used to

Apple’s “Let’s Rock” event today was like going to see The Rolling Stones or The Who in concert. Mick and Pete can still rock, but not like they used to.

Apple’s line of iPod products still rock, but not like they used to. Apple unveiled an updated second generation iPod Touch, yet another iPod Nano form factor in snazzy colors, a 120 GB iPod Classic, and new headphones. That was it for hardware.

On the software-and-service side, iTunes 8 was introduced. The iPod Touch and the iPhone are getting a 2.1 software update, due Friday. The iTunes Store will be selling high-definition TV shows for $2.99 a pop. And estranged NBC Universal is putting its shows back on iTunes after a hiatus of nearly a year.

As Philip Elmer-DeWitt noticed for Fortune, “Apple fails to wow Wall Street” and saw its shares fall more than 7.5 points, or 4.7 percent, during the event. The stock closed at 151.68, down nearly four percent for the day.

Frederic Lardinois of ReadWriteWeb simply said “Let’s Rock” was “a bit of a lackluster event.”

Agreed. Apple’s announcements today were incremental and more maturation of a product line and ecosystem than game-changing, earth-shattering, stand-in-line-for, can’t-live-without, and must-have gadgets since, well, the first iPod or iPhone.

Here’s a roundup of “Let’s Rock.”

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