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“Are you paid to talk up the G1 launch? It was a shambles!”

That’s the subject of the email I got last night from reader, Kai. It wasn’t all sweetness and light with the G1 launch yesterday, then.

I know four people who got one yesterday without a hitch. But Kai was definitely not having a good day — he went on to list out his experiences yesterday on his blog:

* Though I signed up and pre-registered T-mobile’s newsletter did not provide any information how to purchase the G1
* I called up my local T-mobile branch in Woking and they said they’ll only get the device in late in November
* I surprisingly found out today you could buy a G1 from SMStextNews.
* I call the Oxford circus store, but I can’t get through. I even call T-mobile customer services, who can’t tell what their stock levels are and they can’t reach the store either. Arf.
* So in London I rushed to the Oxford street store to see if I could purchase a G1.
* T-mobile store had about 20 staff. Pity most of them could only demonstrate the phone and they couldn’t actually sell the device. Retarded.
* After asking for a black G1, the manager says she has to check in the back room. WTF? You’re almost out? I don’t believe this. Anyway I have a meeting over at OMTP and I’ll come back in a couple of hours after reserving one.
* I return to Oxford street and entered the wrong store at 393 Oxford street, they say don’t worry I can buy the phone here.
* I go through a tiresome credit check where they ask too much information. Feck, I could afford to buy it outright!
* So I’ve signed up for 40GBP for 18months. Deep breath.
* Shop assistant can’t figure out how to open the battery cover. Four staff are taking turns trying to open it.
* Eventually back cover flies off. I am thinking its damaged. No visible damage though. Phew.
* SIM card in, firing up… takes a bit of time… sign in and can’t connect! There is a problem communicating with the Google servers !!
* Shop assistant says I need to wait up to 24hours until my phone is registered on the Web. Eh? I want to use the phone now!
* I ask the assistant if they can disable voicebox/answering service. He says he can’t do that. I need to call customer services myself. Argh, crap service.
* I ask how many phones were sold. This is 6pm btw. 5 in this store and about 40 in the Oxford circus launch store. GULP. No fucking way. What a disaster…
* I notice the London paper running a T-mobile advertisement for phones under 50GBP a month. No mention of the Android G1. What?
* No one seems to know the G1 launched today. Nothing in BBC news about the launch. Even the geeks at the Ubuntu Intrepid launch party didn’t know it came out today. Honestly, what a PR FAIL.

Some of Kai’s experience can be put down to the big-cumbersome-giant syndrome — the fact that launching a handset isn’t as easy as one might expect. Teething troubles are bound to occur.

Indeed, our very own Ben Smith was pressure-sold insurance in the Fleet Street store (if memory serves). He was given so much bollocks he thought he was in a Government press briefing. Words to the effect of ‘You MUST buy this with insurance’ and ‘If you don’t insure it, and you lose it, well, we won’t have many in stock and…’ as well as ‘If you lose it, there isn’t a proper system for getting you a new one.. so’.

I’ll let Ben go into more detail.

However one point in Ka i’s experience that is highly, highly inexcusable is the fact that he had to wait a whole sodding day for his handset to ‘activate’. It was only until 1030am today that the 3G icon appeared and he got data services.

Anyway, he’s, ‘enjoying this little sucker now’ so I look forward to more of Kai’s experiences.

And to address the ‘are you paid to talk up the G1 launch’ point Kai, if only. If only T-Mobile and the other mobile operators recognised the value of Mobile Industry Review and the value of each of our readers. The site isn’t run by a series of arses sat in their underpants. But it will be a good few years until the majority of marketing chaps even take a look at independent online media such as us, I’m pretty confident of that.

I tell you what I would have liked to do though, Kai — but we’d have needed extra resource in the form of some kind of sponsorship or cash from the likes of T-Mobile to do this — I’d have liked to have run G1 Day.

I’d have liked to have painted the site pink for a day and run an all day live blogging session, detailing reactions from those who had already bought the device, showing off pictures and video from delighted readers and crucially, enabling T-Mobile to SWIFTLY react to issues such as yours. I’d have liked to have published some cool videos featuring interviews with T-Mobile executives (they’d have needed to have been recorded a few days beforehand) and I’d have liked to have done a normob walkabout on the queues of people outside the main Oxford Street store.

Further, I’d have liked to have put on an Unlimited Drinks G1 party last night where, if you come along, you can get the device there-and-then on an exclusive £35 a month tariff (or something like that). I’d have liked to have been publishing interviews with lots of developers in the run up to the launch all discussing their views about the device. And I’d have liked to have given away 10 devices yesterday to developers at 9am in the morning. We’d have couriered the devices to them to arrive by 10am — with the express purpose of the developers coming along to the Unlimited Drinks party to show the applications they’d created THAT DAY.

It would have been ace.

But you need a bit of cash and resource to organise that kind of thing. And you need the buy-in of a mainstream-media-obsessed mobile operator marketing team.

So I paid for all the coverage Kai. I paid for the fuel, the fooking annoying parking fees (24 quid!), the congestion charge and the other sundry expenses. If it was T-Mobile supported coverage, I’d have made it ultra clear.

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.

12 replies on ““Are you paid to talk up the G1 launch? It was a shambles!””

Ewan, in terms of general consumer awareness and excitement I think Kai might have a point. If you take the comments on MIR as a measurement then there is much more interest (positive and negative) in the N96 than in the G1.

I've already seen a couple of people with one today – but there isn't the same sense of excitement 'on the street'.

On a separate note – I'd have loved to see you dressed all in Pink for the MIR G1 Day!

I thought everyone knew it was the 30th? I got 2 emails on Thursday morning, having pre-registered.

They quite clearly state: “To order your T-Mobile G1 from the T-Mobile.co.uk shop, follow the exclusive link below after 2pm on 30 October 2008. We have limited stock, so make sure you get in early to avoid disappointment. Once they’re all gone, the link will no longer work.”

I rang the King's Road branch at 9am, they put one aside for me. There was some confusion at the Clapham reseller store (P4U?) so I headed up to the T-Mo high street store. 15 minutes end-to-end signup/purchase experience, having never been a T-Mo customer before. Impressed.

Walked out of the store, got on to a bus. Had to read the manual to get the battery cover off. It's a tricky sucker. Should be printed on a screen or cover sticker to avoid RTFM rage. Popped battery & USIM in, power on, boot up, entered Gmail address – and away rocking before I got to the office, 5 minutes tops. Best out-of-box experience to date. Better than iPhone, because no PC was involved.

Not to seem a T-Mo fanboy, but IMHO the G1 launch makes O2 and Apple look like the proverbial Simian copulating with an item of sporting apparatus.

/m

Fleet street had 3 handsets left at 2pm – all white. At least one angry customer arrived to collect his black reservation that had been sold 'because he didn't call back to confirm he wanted it held'.

I didn't buy the insurance, but it took me to say 'I don't care if it breaks, I'm a journalist and I want it to review' (I'm not, I'm a blogger) for them to give it up. The manager sighted several situations that would have been covered by warranty as reasons to take the insurance. That said though, the rest of the process including selecting a tariff was excellent.

At 3pm T-Mob's website still offered the option to pre-register to 'be the first to know'… many hours after the devices were in public hands… fail.

I don't think there is or should be huge public interest in this phone – it's only fit for geeks right now, but it is a massive indicator of what's to come (and yes, it is normob-friendly IMO) in Android. The hardware is a vehicle for that right now and nothing more. For all those reasons though, that is also why you'll see a fair amount of coverage here – the N96 is the past… a revision of an existing tired platform that needs a kick up the pants. The G1 is the flawed first indicators of what the latest entrant to the smartphone ecosystem is thinking.

ITN covered it in their TV news as did the Metro free paper and a few nationals.

@Mike 42 – I agree it was a really good out of the box experience. Like you I've not been a T-Mob customer before, but I was really impressed.

@Ben – There definitely was some coverage, but nowhere near the excitement generated around the iPhone. Now I think that that was intentional as, although I don't think the G1 is only for geeks, it's certainly not a consumer device in the same way the iPhone is.

Mike42 — how do you rate the G1 compared to other “smartphone” products? (iPhone, N95, etc)?

Haven't had enough time yet to play with it (work keeps getting in the way).

But at first muck around the browser is, of course, miles easier than the N95 and not as good as the iPhone.

/m

well, I went into a local T-Mobile (Colorado) to check things out…. there was a big G1 display (to my surprise).. the store packed, nobody even looked at the display or could care less – along with the clerks. To boot, the devices were locked to a chain, had plastic covers showing google search and felt like plastic toys. All the other devices on display had batteries in them and live display so you could get a feel for what they did. So why no batteries and a real demo… how drab, no wonder nobody was even looking at them!

well, I went into a local T-Mobile (Colorado) to check things out…. there was a big G1 display (to my surprise).. the store packed, nobody even looked at the display or could care less – along with the clerks. To boot, the devices were locked to a chain, had plastic covers showing google search and felt like plastic toys. All the other devices on display had batteries in them and live display so you could get a feel for what they did. So why no batteries and a real demo… how drab, no wonder nobody was even looking at them!

Haven't had enough time yet to play with it (work keeps getting in the way).

But at first muck around the browser is, of course, miles easier than the N95 and not as good as the iPhone.

/m

well, I went into a local T-Mobile (Colorado) to check things out…. there was a big G1 display (to my surprise).. the store packed, nobody even looked at the display or could care less – along with the clerks. To boot, the devices were locked to a chain, had plastic covers showing google search and felt like plastic toys. All the other devices on display had batteries in them and live display so you could get a feel for what they did. So why no batteries and a real demo… how drab, no wonder nobody was even looking at them!

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