MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
This is All Things Considered from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris.
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
And I'm Melissa Block. After more than two years of rumors and buzz-building previews, the first Google phone was shown off today at a press conference in Manhattan. The G1 is Google's way of getting into a market dominated by the iPhone and the BlackBerry. And as NPR's Laura Sydell reports, Google's approach to the mobile market shows how its corporate philosophy and business model set it apart from its rivals.
LAURA SYDELL: Google software is called Android, but everybody knew that before today's press conference. Google has been open about the name, but there was the stuff floating around the Internet, the fuzzy pictures of devices supposedly leaked from inside the factory and anonymous statements by engineers supposedly affiliated with the project.
NORRIS: No more cannot comment, no more unsubstantiated blog posts. We are finally here to introduce the T-Mobile G1 with Google.
SYDELL: There weren't any drum rolls as a rather staid-looking Cole Brodman, T-Mobile's chief technology officer, introduced the new device. The actual phone is made by a Taiwanese company, HTC. The service is being provided by T-Mobile. A video of the new phone showed off its features: a touch screen, a little like the one on the rival iPhone; applications and services like, surprise, Google Maps with street view photos, Gmail, YouTube. But unlike the iPhone, this device has a separate keyboard that can be pulled out to write text messages and emails. Google's two founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, made an appearance. They rolled out on stage wearing roller blades. Brin was touting his favorite characteristic of the new phone. It has a completely open platform that will allow anyone to develop new software for the device.
NORRIS: The first application I ended up writing was one where you throw your phone up in the air, and it measures how much time goes by until you catch it or it hits the floor.
SYDELL: For Google, the mobile market is going to be a key to growth, says Michael King, an analyst at Gartner. He says by 2011, there will be 1.6 billion cell phones shipped. And in much of the international market, there will be more phones than computers.
NORRIS: They want to be a player in this space. They want to have as many of their advertisements and their advertising customers have access to that tremendous volume of consumers. The PC market is small when compared with the mobile-device market.
SYDELL: Google is clearly hoping to target the iPhone and BlackBerry consumer market, says King. And it has drawn a distinction between itself and its competitors by allowing anyone to develop software applications for Android with no oversight from Google. King says Apple is more about controlling the entire phone experience.
NORRIS: Apple really looks at the end-to-end experience, I feel. So, they look at how the device feels in your hand - the weight, the smoothness, the curves - how you're going to interact with the applications, and not just how the applications interact with you.
SYDELL: And it was Apple's need to control the entire experience that was a major contributor to its failure to dominate the PC market. The Google phone, at around $180, is a bit cheaper than the entry level iPhone at $200 for a two-year contract. In the end, King says, the mobile market is so large, it's likely that everyone can get a piece of it. The new T-Mobile phone with Google's Android will be on the shelves on October 22. Laura Sydell, NPR News.