Posts Tagged ‘Google’

Hands on with the Google phone: a solid device that won't unseat the iPhone

I kind of felt like I was cheating on my wife — in this case an iPhone — when I checked out the new Google phone the other day at a T-Mobile store. I must admit I was seduced.

After more than a year of writing about the so-called Google phone and the Android mobile operating system, I actually held one in my hands. The G1, as it is known, called to me. It wasn’t as poorly manufactured as I feared it might be; its display was bright, crisp and intoxicating; its operating system seemed fun and promising.

At first blush, I was smitten. But as in any relationship, the more time you spend with someone — or in this case something — the more you learn.

What I learned about the G1 I’m sharing with you. Like the wise Om Malik, I prefer a less formal review format because there are many fine reviewers out there who’ve been testing the G1 for weeks. Like Uncle Walt from the Wall Street Journal. Or David Pogue at The New York Times. And all the usual gadget and mobile blogs.

I tend to focus on the user experience of any product, which in this case is important as the G1’s chief competitor, Apple’s iPhone, seemingly has cornered the market on usability and consumer imagination. Since the release of the iPhone 3G in July, Apple has sold nearly seven million phones this quarter.

For the so-called Google phone to reach that kind of success, it must complete with Apple on the user experience battlefield, not just over features and functions. This will be harder for the G1 because it has three parents, not one like the iPhone.

There’s Google, developer of Android.

There’s HTC, the manufacturer.

And there’s T-Mobile, the carrier.

In the near future, other manufacturers and carriers will be involved with the development of Google phones. All of them will provide different interpretations of Android with new features and functions and user experiences. Will they rival that of the iPhone? Or will they become another, albeit solid, contender?

We have our first answer.

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Google's big bet: Android beyond the cellphone

Much of the iPod’s success, says Steve Jobs, is down to the fact that Japanese consumer electronics companies don’t produce elegant software. He makes the same accusation of handset makers too. They can do hardware but they “just can’t seem to get the software right.” Enter Android, Google’s open source OS, which although explicitly designed to deliver better software for Internet-connected cellphones, will also soon find its way onto all manner of devices.

“Over the last few weeks I have learned that numerous companies are tinkering with Android in an attempt to get the OS to power a whole slew of gadgets — everything from set-top boxes to navigation systems to mobile Internet devices to smart picture frames”, reports Om Malik.

Motorola have already confirmed that it has at least one Android-powered handset in the pipeline, but the company is also a major player in the television set-top box space and is said to be exploring the potential of Android in the living room too. Malik also says he’s heard from “fairly reliable sources” that two large PC makers are experimenting with Android-based Internet devices. None of which I find surprising. From both a technical and business point of view, Google has laid the foundations for Android to move quickly beyond its cellphone roots and, the company hopes, eventually become a ubiquitous platform.

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YouTube adds select TV shows from CBS; takes aim at Hulu for long-form video content

We wouldn’t call YouTube a sleeping giant necessarily, but when it comes to long-form video the world’s dominant video-sharing site certainly seems to be cat-napping.

Other sites such as Hulu, the joint venture between Fox and NBC, have been getting much of the long-form video attention and name recognition, whereas YouTube remains known for short-form content that lasts 10 minutes or less.

Google, YouTube’s parent, is seeking to change this as it has added select full-length content from CBS in an attempt to take on Hulu and attract other network content to YouTube. [YouTube blog]

Available full-length shows include 20- to 48-minute episodes from CBS’s past and present lineup, including “Star Trek,” “MacGyver,” and “Beverly Hills 90210.” The season premiers of “Dexter” and “Californication” and current episodes of “Young and Restless” will also be shown on YouTube.

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First look: YouTube's e-commerce leaves lots of room for improvement

In an effort to make money from YouTube, Google introduced this week an e-commerce component to the popular video-sharing site that allows users to click buttons to buy music, video, and games from iTunes or Amazon.

The idea has merit, but its execution — at least in this early stage — is in need of improvement. It’s not unlike other Google initial-release products.

Here’s how it works: The Good

Say you’re messing around on YouTube and you watch a video from an artist you like — Katy Perry or Raphael Saadiq. Just underneath the video, below the ratings and the sharing and social network links, there are two buttons to download the song or video from Amazon’s MP3 store or iTunes.

Clicking on either one takes  you directly to the song at either store. The purchase process is exactly what you’re used to at AmazonMP3 or iTunes.

“If you like the song,  you don’t need to leave Google or leave the site to buy it,” Bakari Brock, business affairs counsel at  YouTube, told The New York Times. [See also Advertising Age]

That’s not exactly true. Clicking on Amazon, of course, takes you to AmazonMP3, while clicking on iTunes takes you to, naturally, iTunes. But you still leave YouTube, although the page you were viewing remains intact.

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Will Android be Motorola's savior? Company confirms its interest in Google's mobile OS

This comes as no shock, and it just might save Motorola’s cell phone hide.

According to BetaNews, Motorola has confirmed it is working on a new phone that utilizes Google’s mobile operating system Android. It’s no surprise because Motorola was a founding member of the Google-led Open Handset Alliance.

“We’re excited about the innovation possibilities on Android, and (we) look forward to delivering great products in partnership with Google and the Open Handset Alliance (OHA),” Motorola said in a statement.

Since the announcement of Android at the end of last year, HTC, Motorola, Samsung, and LG Electronics all have been rumored to be interested in manufacturing an Android handset. HTC is the first to deliver an Android phone, the G1, which will be available later this month and sold by T-Mobile in the U.S.

Other handset manufacturers have laid low, however, keeping their Android plans quiet. For its part, Motorola has been working diligently to solve its ailing cell phone business. Earlier this year it decided to spin off its troubled cell phone division from the rest of the company.

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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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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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"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.