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Google Android vs. the Field

I don't like the G-1's keyboard. Normally, I'd automatically prefer a hardware QWERTY keyboard to an on-screen software keyboard (such the iPhone or BlackBerry Bold.) But the G-1's keyboard is too flat, and the keys are too small and close together. A keyboardless G-2 might be better.

Smart Phones

A big plus is that the G-1's price has been falling. Despite costing $179 at T-Mobile, I've also seen much lower prices recently at discount retailers like (AMZN - Get Report) and Costco (COST - Get Report). That usually signals a new model is coming very soon.

Google has big plans for the Android OS. Think in terms of a slew of mobile devices -- in all sorts of forms like tablet and mini-notebook computers. Why not? Apple is rumored to be working on similar devices that may run on the iPhone's OS.

Google has chosen to follow the Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) route, make the software and get it to other companies that create the hardware. Apple chose the other route. It manages both the hardware and software and doesn't have to "tweak" features to please anyone else.

Plus, Windows Mobile software has been around for years, and version 6.5 is about to be released. In the past, there have been cell phones, smartphones and all sorts of small tablets and mini-notebooks that have run Windows Mobile. Microsoft has learned what sells (smartphones) and what doesn't (all the rest). Google will have to figure that out for itself.

Who wins? Actually, the consumer does. Smartphones are getting smarter as well as cheaper. And there are more and more devices to choose from. I like the G-1, the only Android phone currently on the market. But the others aren't sitting around waiting to see what happens. Microsoft is busy working on Windows Mobile 7, and Apple is already boasting about what its iPhone 3 will be able to do. Right now, I'd call it a split decision.
Gary Krakow is's senior technology correspondent.
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