I have used the G1 Google phone from T-Mobile for about a month now.  It sucks.  I’ve called T-Mobile several times to try and get rid of this brick.  They are working very hard to stem the tide of givebacks.  Well-documented problems with the Google phone include the following:

1.  The Android OS is not an open system.  It is very much closed, and built on exploiting (read dependent) the existing Google network and apps.  The entire theory of ‘cloud computing’ cannot exist when the ‘cloud’ is unstable, frequently out of order, gimmicky, and lacking many of the standard elements customers expect (like notifications and reminders in calendar).  Power users know this: they want to build to interact with a variety of environments, both on and off the Web.  You cannot do this with the Android OS.   Using the G1 with a Mac is possible, but just barely and you better understand how to code and some quantum physics to get it all working.  And yes, you have to buy more stuff to get it to work.  Try Busymac. 

2. Android lacks a working email application.  The email application (for accessing mail at your ISP) that ships with the phone does not work at all.  Its inoperable.  There is only one other email application you can use, the K9 email client, also developed by Google.  As you can see here , there are hundreds of known issues and major defects  (can’t address an email, can’t ping your server <broken pipe error>, checking email generates hundreds of duplicate emails on the server, etc.)  These defects aren’t even considered important;  they haven’t been worked on in months, and they aren’t even marked ‘critical.’  OTOH, the Gmail app works fine.  Imagine that. 

3.  Very few applications.  At last count, Apple had I think about 14,000 apps in the App Store, and that is with Apple checking them before they go up.  In Google’s open Market, a couple hundred apps is all you have to choose from.  Like the App Store, many of these don’t work, or duplicate other apps (like the dozen or so flashlight apps).  Too bad no one has built an email app that actually works!  They could charge for that.  Also, you can’t read Word or Excel documents (there is an app for that, but it doesn’t work; same drill for pdfs).   You can’t even move apps to your SD card.  Still haven’t figured out why they have an SD slot when you can’t use it. 

4.  Hardware is shit.  Not enough battery life: maybe.  You can get through the day on your G1 if you don’t surf the web too much or use the GPS too much, like to check the traffic on a one hour car trip.  The phone sold to the public is different from the phone given to Google employees.  The real Google phones can access the SD slot, and can tether.  

I can’t see this experiment lasting out the year.  Android has no other phones coming out.  There are rumors, even demos of new phones, but no delivery dates, no manufacturing schedules, and no publicity.  The G1 is likely to be the first and last in the line.  When other carriers get an idea of how hollowed out and empty the Android OS is, I can’t see them staying with it.  Google is quick to drop loser apps and lines of business, and I predict that this will soon be one.  Too bad, IMHO, because it had promise. Google is clearly not throwing enough human energy at this project.

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