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.

Stylish good looks

First and foremost for the designer in me, I want stylish good looks and a fit and finish that’s as good as, if not better than, the iPhone.

Based on what I’ve seen so far, the HTC Dream — now known as the G1 for the release — will feature an iPhone-like touch screen and a very non-iPhone slide-up display that hides a promising keyboard.

Rumors point to uninspiring black, white, and brown colors for the initial release. Black and white — been there, done that. But brown?

Imaginative user interface

Next, a polished, consistent, imaginative user interface is essential. It must, again, be on par with or better than the iPhone OS. Prove to us that somebody other than Apple can design a cell phone UI.

And please, please, please: If it’s not as slick as the iPhone UI, at least don’t give us an interface that’s like the clunky Gmail and Reader experiences. Give us something interesting and fun to play with like the iPhone was when it was released more than a year ago.

More than one carrier

I know this isn’t possible just yet, but please o’ please make the Google phone available on more than one network before 2112.

Other thoughts

Other thoughts come to mind, but these are what the iPhone lacks, not what it does well.

  • the ability to run more than one app at a time
  • the ability to play Flash files, not just YouTube videos
  • the ability to copy and paste
  • the immediate availability of more polished, functional third-party apps when the Android Market (the equivalent of Apple’s App Store) opens for business
  • (add your own iPhone shortcoming)

I believe the Google phone must meet these objectives because it needs to wow the public, just like the iPhone did (and still does). Most people outside of the techy, geek, gadget world know little about the Google phone, Android, or what it means to the mobile industry. Nor do they care.

T-Mobile, the exclusive carrier, is No. 4 in the U.S. It won’t have the resources to blitz our TV screens, radios, and printed media with Android ads like Apple did for the iPhone. What will propel the Google phone into orbit like the iPhone is sexy design, a slick UI, a quality fit and finish, an even better browser, and plugging the holes left by the iPhone.

The techies, geeks, and gadget hounds will talk about the Google phone. They’ll buy one for husbands, wives, and kids. They’ll recommend the phone to friends. They’ll proudly show it off, their latest high-tech talisman.

And if this happens, Apple will have serious competition for the first time since introducing the iPod years ago.


last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

2 Responses to “The Google phone is on its way: a checklist for success”

  1. FilipLE says:

    Is it really that certain that it will be a success ? Anyway good interesting article, i’ve seen another really innovative service. It’s called GoHello and it’s basically an allmobile phone system for business. No more hardware, maintenance and heavy fees. I even think you can try it for free here :

  2. David Mackey says:

    I must agree that the keyboard looks extremely attractive. I traded up for an iPhone 3G around a month or two ago now and love it – but the lack of a real keyboard can be a significant pain. I thought maybe I just had fat fingers but when I saw a petite teen gal complain of the same thing, I knew it wasn’t just me (granted, Apple has great spell correction that fixes most of the words I mangle).
    I think the Android looks pretty slick…and its big advantage is the openness of its platform. The ability to innovate quickly on the OS level and the application level is huge. Look at the speed of open source releases compared to monolithic companies like Microsoft (cough, take a hint Microsoft, cough).

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