Sunday, October 14, 2007

Slashdot | Google Phone Rumors Solidifying

I've had a Sprint based Razr phone for almost a year and at the other end of the spectrum a Nokia 1100 via Tracfon for a couple, and I've played with an iPhone long enough to know that I can live without one.

I too like the Nokia flashlight feature (mentioned in the Slasdot discussion). I also like that it has a standby life of a month or more (in my experience) and can quickly be turned off and on, unlike the newer phones that must "boot" into a mode that can drive the display even to do something as simple as plug in to recharge.

I love the fact that I can check e-mail browse the web and so forth with the Razr, but the screen is too small to get much out of it (and the iPhone, to me isn't that much of an improvement, I have a Nokia N800 that serves about the same function as the iPhone in that regard).

My main use for a phone is, uh, talking on the phone, and unless I'm in a run down diner on the Interstate in the middle of nowhere, I'm not all that far from being able to check my mail and read the news on a real computer. Like most cell phone users I also own a laptop that does just fine in most Wifi locations.

All that to say, there may be a gPhone that competes with the iPhone, but iPhone users have shown that money isn't the issue with them. They'll stand in line to pay exorbitant prices for an untested product just for the status alone, and I'm sure many of them would do the same even if an equivalent service were available for free.

If the eventual gPhone has none of the features of the iPhone it will serve as a business-model-ending device for pay as you go services as Tracfone T-mobile, etc. Millions of people will buy them for emergency phones in the car, for their kids to take to school, for a spare when the battery on the iPhone dies, and so on. A dirt-cheap (production wise) phone will be almost as big a hit as an "iPhone killer".

Devil in these details: How will ads be presented? In the iPhone format, on the screen of course, possibly annoying the h*** out of you while you are trying to do something else. On an N1100 type device, maybe you would hear a 5 second ad at the start of a call you make, and your callers could be subjected to such a thing too. Tying up a real 10-digit phone number costs money. I don't know how much, but it isn't zero. A totally free phone will have an issue with rapidly using up these numbers for (as mentioned above) phones that get stored in a car and rarely used. Maybe such a device will have a two step process to call. (1) call an 800 number (provided by Google) followed by (2) an internal ID to get to the phone. This could tie in with the GrandCentral acquisition (which I'm already using and impressed with). Finally, an "iPhone Killer" phone that is free, has a large display and other state of the art features is going to be treated like any other free thing: carelessly. It will be subject to all sorts of physical abuse and people will be ordering replacements like they are dim-sum. What could have marginally been an ad-supported device could quickly become a sink-hole for any company who tries it.

So, as usual, I think many of they "analysts" have their heads up their a**es and are either dreaming, or engaging in typical stir up rumors to pump up the stock price tactics. Oh they wouldn't do that would they?

Regardless, when the gPhone does arrive, if it arrives, I hope it has a flashlight too!

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