Posted by: nickgerlich | July 1, 2008

Phone Home

It is hard to break into a market that is already established, with people entrenched in their ways. The costs of brand- or format-switching can often be enormous, and serve the greater corporate purpose of keeping customers locked in.

Last year’s iPhone release is a good example. Unless you were with AT&T or willing to break ties with your carrier (at great cost), you could only stand back and marvel at the cool phone. It took three months to sell the first million units (not bad), but I can only imagine how many would have sold. And that is in spite of the tight grip Blackberry has on the corporate smart phone market, the result of their being in place for years before Apple came along.

AndroidToday the world is anxiously awaiting the arrival of Google’s phone, a vaporware product that has been floating in rumorland for several years. And coming in a few months to a store near you.

The only thing is, it is not a Google phone. It is a Google operating system (Android) that will be available on a multitude of new phones.

You see, Google has never been in the hardware business. It is all about software and internet applications. And selling lots of ads. To these ends, the Android is poised to do well.

If people buy the phones, that is.

Google has been quietly canvassing the world for user-generated applications for the operating system (see the Wired July 2008 feature). Since Android is open-source, anyone can join the fray. And give Google heaps of credit for recognizing that the battle for the internet is no longer going to take place on your desktop computer. No, it is being waged on your phone. Mobile in, computers out.

The only problem is this: I don’t need another new phone. Once again, I am committed (having spent a wad for my stylish yet highly functional iPhone). Unless I lose it, break it, or go crazy with the Visa, I’m not buying.

I am not opposed to product improvements, for they raise the standard for all of us. And I am certainly not opposed to learning some new tricks I can do on my phone. But switching this late in the game is a lot different than just swapping Kellogg’s for General Mills.

I think I hear the phone ringing. I bet it’s my conscience (aka Mrs. Gerlich) calling to remind me of my promise that the iPhone would be my last phone. Ever.

Send a postcard when you get there, gang. I’ll be interested to hear all about it.

Dr “Day Late and $500 Short” Gerlich

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