Saturday, November 10, 2007

Google and the future of cell phones

It was interesting to read two related technology articles in Thursday's paper. In the Times, David Pogue reviewed the new T-Mobile Shadow smartphone ("Reaching for Apple, Falling Short"). He loves the phone, but finds it completely ruined by terrible software. "Frankly, Windows Mobile 6 is a mess. Common features require an infinitude of taps and clicks, and the ones you need most are buried in menus. Apparently the Windows Mobile 6 team learned absolutely nothing from Windows Mobile 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5." He then goes on to illustrate just how bad it is by giving advice such as "When you’re finished looking at a text message, you should not have to open a menu to find the Delete command." This goes on for a while, and it's actually a bit funny.

Google to the rescue! Rob Pegoraro, wrote "Google and Cellphones: Let Freedom Ring" for the Post on the same day. He talks about the three freedoms promised by android, Google's new operating system: the freedom to use the web as you want, the freedom to add the programs you want and the freedom to change your phone's underlying software to add new capabilities, change unwanted behaviors or fix flaws. The two articles work together very nicely.

Whether an alliance of Google, cell phone users and cell phone manufacturers will have the clout required to get the wireless carriers to get out of the way remains to be seen. The problem is that a small number of carriers (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile ) have most of the cell phone networks, and only they can provide good service. So it's good news that T-Mobile, a carrier, designed the Shadow. They have an incentive to adopt android: better software will help them to sell their phones (and service).

In the meantime, I have only a simple no-nonsense phone and I use Verizon because it provides good coverage in my area. When I can get a phone that has Pegoraro's three freedoms, then I will be ready to go high-tech.

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