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Mr Operator on the Google Phone: Bring it on!

Android-joy has been spreading across the marketplace and beyond into normob territory this week. So just what does Mr Operator, our friendly mobile industry titan, think of Google’s Android and the ‘Google Phone’?

Here we go:

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Ah, the Gphone. Nothing has generated more hype in the mobile press – bar the iPhone. Except that the two, while often being compared in the same sentence, are completely different. One can theoretically be had in any flavour of handset, from any manufacturer, with any feature-set, at any price-point. The other’s an Apple.

Herein lies the strength of Android – Like S30/40 devices, the end-user need have no idea what OS the device is running. Ask any Nokia or Sony Ericsson user what OS their phone has, and 99.999% won’t have a clue. “Er, a blue one?”. Geeks will debate the nuance of S60 vs. Android vs. BREW vs. Apple, and users will continue not to give a stuff. Has the lack of Flash & Java hurt the iPhone? nope. Android promises – surprise – deep integration with Google’s growing suite of apps – search, mail and maps being the big three most people care about. Beyond that it tails off into the niche.

Right now, if your MNO hasn’t got a deal with Google you won’t have Google apps preinstalled on your device. Google have done a sterling job of making m.google.com/maps the most commonly visited place for many mobile switchers, to get what has become de rigueur free mapping functionality. As the new release of GMaps shows, they can bring out ‘free’ services that utterly screw those planning to upsell customers. So long Nokia maps, it’s been frustrating and at ~?50/year vs free, I’ll take free, thanks. Google will do a much better job of getting me from A to B via C, a decent Fairtrade organic coffee house with a 2-for-1 offer on right now, only 2 minutes out of my way. As they have done for search, Google will shortly be a verb for mobile mapping.

The likes of Nuance’s absquatulation. Sure, Nokia could do this for S40, Qualcomm could do it for BREW, the others could do it for whatever they use. But they haven’t, yet. Given Google’s resonance with normobs, the attraction of a phone that makes using Google services easier cannot be understated. Sure, the first release will be comparatively rubbish. Show me an OS or device that wasn’t {looks sideways at Cupertino}. They will get there, trust me. And if the commercials aren’t stupid, the phones will appear at price-points that are a no-brainer. The guys trying to drive uptake of $£?10 web add-ons by mums with prams want simple, friendly, democratic apps on cheap devices. They NEED simple, friendly, democratic. S60 isn’t that. S40 isn’t that, if you want web and email. The iPhone isn’t that at £399 prepay.

Apps are nice, and have proved popular if they are free. But at the price of the iPhone tariffs you have self-selected a population with spare cash. The masses don’t spend £5 a go on stuff you can’t drink, smoke or eat. So the lack at startup of a premium ‘app store’ won’t be an issue.

From a carrier POV, at the right price, with the right commercials, bring it on. There is no loyalty to S40/S60/BREW/whatever. It should be easy to buy. Zero integration needed. If Google are on to it, the handset will come with only one condition – that ad revenue share will come INTO the MNO. The onus will be on Google and the vendors to continually improve the UI, the apps, the experience. MNO’s won’t want to be spending money tweaking beyond cosmetic skins, and shouldn’t have to.

The wait-and-see will last as long as the first week’s sales. A few decent broadsheet reviews and the Gphone will be the Prepay Christmas must-have for those earning the average wage.

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Interesting, interesting. Thank you for that Mr Operator. If you’ve got a question about the mobile industry for Mr Operator, whack it to me at ewan@mobileindustryreview.com.
Android will be the kick in the arse for mass-market that the iPhone was to the smartphone crowd.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

4 replies on “Mr Operator on the Google Phone: Bring it on!”

Yeah I'm sure Mr. Operator has no stake in this at all. Please. MNO's love Android because its a stick they can beat Nokia services with. The reality may be very different. The mapping wars have only just started.

Dane, I got this reply to your comment sent in by Mr Operator:

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Of course I have a stake in this. My job is to get the best-possible customer experience for the lowest-possible cost. Android is one of many opportunities to deliver this – either by providing it, or using the threat of providing it to lower costs / raise performance from other vendors.

Maybe in Dane's world MNO's are Nokia charities, but back in the real world things are slightly different. People love Google. Google is free. Give the people what they want. If Gmaps offers free pedestrian nav with performance on par with Nokia, then Nokia's offering better be free. Don't get me wrong – Google can be a complete pain in the ass to deal with, and labyrinthine doesn't begin to cover the possible implications of a deal. But their Kool-Aid is – er – kool, and if I want to shift devices it's one hell of a resonant brand.

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Dane, I got this reply to your comment sent in by Mr Operator:

– – – – –

Of course I have a stake in this. My job is to get the best-possible customer experience for the lowest-possible cost. Android is one of many opportunities to deliver this – either by providing it, or using the threat of providing it to lower costs / raise performance from other vendors.

Maybe in Dane's world MNO's are Nokia charities, but back in the real world things are slightly different. People love Google. Google is free. Give the people what they want. If Gmaps offers free pedestrian nav with performance on par with Nokia, then Nokia's offering better be free. Don't get me wrong – Google can be a complete pain in the ass to deal with, and labyrinthine doesn't begin to cover the possible implications of a deal. But their Kool-Aid is – er – kool, and if I want to shift devices it's one hell of a resonant brand.

– – – – –

Dane, I got this reply to your comment sent in by Mr Operator:

– – – – –

Of course I have a stake in this. My job is to get the best-possible customer experience for the lowest-possible cost. Android is one of many opportunities to deliver this – either by providing it, or using the threat of providing it to lower costs / raise performance from other vendors.

Maybe in Dane's world MNO's are Nokia charities, but back in the real world things are slightly different. People love Google. Google is free. Give the people what they want. If Gmaps offers free pedestrian nav with performance on par with Nokia, then Nokia's offering better be free. Don't get me wrong – Google can be a complete pain in the ass to deal with, and labyrinthine doesn't begin to cover the possible implications of a deal. But their Kool-Aid is – er – kool, and if I want to shift devices it's one hell of a resonant brand.

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