There are times when new mobile products impress me. Those are few and far between. A lot of today's mobile phones look alike - they are either an iPhone, or an iPhone imitator (every carrier has at least one of these), a BlackBerry, or "the rest". The T-Mobile G1 is somewhere in between an iPhone and a BlackBerry.
It's easy to speculate that the G1 is a direct iPhone competitor, and certainly people who are looking for a smart phone could compare the two. I've had this device for half a day so these are my initial thoughts. As I continue to use and test it I may feel differenly about it.
So far my feeling is that this device is aimed squarely at BlackBerry's consumer and small business market. I won't even consider a comparison to WIndows Mobile due to its instability and a user interface that hasn't materially changed in at least 5 years. For those that use Gmail this phone mirrors very close the experience you would receive on a BlackBerry that connects to a Microsoft Exchange server. The Gmail integration is absolutely seamless, to the point where you even see your tags and stars in the e-mail application. The calendar information is automatically populated (the iPhone cannot do this wirelessly when used with a non-Exchange e-mail account) and the Contacts in Gmail are populated automatically. Google is attempting to disrupt RIM's BES and its proprietary date service franchises. The data service alone is an enormous recurring revenue cash cow for RIM. And practically every business with Microsoft Exchange has a BlackBerry Enterprise Server.
What is lacking so far is polish - and that means that there are some "little" things that are missing. One example is an auto text feature. For example, if I want to type "I'll" the G1 won't make the i capital, and it won't add the ' mark. I have to do that manually, which can get annoying. There are very few other applications in the ""Market". I'm not a big fan of the keyboard. It may be OK for texting, but for writing regular emails it's doesn't feel as comfortable as a BlackBerry. Although Google's answer to music is its partnership with Amazon and its "one-click" song purchases, there is no application like iTunes to manage te music or photos. YouTube is included but doesn't seem to be as the same quality as on the iPhone. Go figure.
The development platform is also new. The quality of the SDK remains the be seen. Apple hit quite a few snags with its SDK when it first came out. As we test not only the phone but also the development platform we will learn more about its capabilties. For now, it is a good consumer-focused device. And it certainly exceeded my expectations for Google's first crack at a mobile OS.