Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Pieces Fall in Together

Yawn!!! Sorry. Couldn't help it. Been a long night keeping tabs on the Google Android launch. More on that later.

The big G is one of those companies that seems to inspire a lot of love on the net. Which kind of makes it an antithesis to Microsoft, which inspires (almost) universal hate. I mean even Jerry Seinfeld couldn't help Bill Gates.

Admittedly, Google is a brilliant search engine. No other search engine comes close. However, hints of a Microsoftesque ambition unravelled one by one.

Take the foray into desktop search, Office document management, Maps, Street view, Earth, Blogger, Orkut etc. The list goes on, and is diverse. In fact, Google is trying to be omniscient and omnipresent.

The only thing that held them back however, was a compelling platform to integrate services. For a myriad of reasons (maybe they're cooking it up in G labs, as we speak), the integrated one stop point for their services has been a tough sell to the PC market.

And then all of a sudden, they released the Chrome browser. That was when one had to say " Aha!! The game is afoot".

As a Chrome user for more than 2 weeks, i can say that it doesn't offer anything revolutionary over other desktop counterparts. Other than  the ability to run each browser tab in separate memory threads, it's a run of the mill browser and didn't make any sense as a Google product. It wasn't like it loaded Maps or Docs or Talk at start. Those still require visiting the website or downloading the App.

No, what was interesting though, is that it was an attempt to launch a platform for their web services, and gain some developer feedback. Much like Apple's Safari was. Now you see where we are heading, aren't you?

A couple of hours ago, T-Mobile launched the G1 phone(aka HTC Dream). Like i was telling a friend of mine, the Dream looks like a nightmare, but it's the underlying software that's the talking point.

Hardware wise, it's a decent package, although the lack of video recording and stereo bluetooth support is galling for a 2008 phone. we can assume that developers will get cracking on those issues with the Android SDK right away.

Android!! The cornerstone of Google's strategy. The reason d'etre for their 'Be there, everywhere' syndrome. All of Big G's plans seem to be tied up with their mobile OS. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than the G1.

For starters, the phone requires logging in with a Google Account. thereafter, it ties up you phone contacts with the Google Address Book. it also treats Gmail as the default Email client.  Gtalk is ubiquitous as the default chat client. Maps and Street view are presented in all their glory. Docs come preloaded, and there are default Facebook and Orkut and Blogger(YAY!!!) apps as well. and for browsing, you get the Google Chrome(AAH!! Now i see)

and there's a wonderful App Market that is better than Apple's Iphone Apps, simply because it doesn't tie you down to using a proprietary software to sync.

 Oh, and it comes with a direct Google Search App(well, duh!!)

look, tying up contacts with the google address book can be a wonderful idea. the worst case scenario that the ads are showing, is where you drop your phone into water, and get a replacement phone. then you simply login to your google account and presto, all contacts restored!!

this is the closest we have come to mass cloud computing. Cloud computing is an approach which stores data in a central server, and treats every thing else as an access terminal. the benefits are that the end user's computer needn't be all powerful. all the configuration expenses are met at the server end. the only thing needed on nodal ends are input, output devices and a strong network connection.

what concerns me however, is that with the million handsets that HTC is going to sell for sure, and with the beautiful Qwerty keypad plus WiFi means that surfing on a mobile will be terribly attractive.

what it means for Google, is that with each user logged into a Gmail account, they now get more user data, which can be used to main profiles. granted, they say that all user information is deleted in 9 months, plus that user privacy is respected. i admired the way they stood upto the Bush administration and refused to hand over search tracking data. Something that some other companies didnt have the guts to do(Yahoo, MSN anyone?)

But it seems that with Android out, and the way it has integrated all it's apps to the moblie platforms, that user statistics and potential ad base for the Ad sense are the only reasons for the strong push Google is putting in.

Big Brother is finally here. and it's name is Google.

and finally, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then apple must be blushing right now. not a single touch screen phone has deviated from the Large Screen and minimal buttons approach that Apple Pioneered.

should you buy the G1 with the attractive 179 $ plan? i would suggest waiting to see what Nokia cooks up with the Tube(AKA Xpress Music 5800) before jumping in.