G1 Android phone is only half 'open' with T-Mobile lock-in

Absence of Exchange e-mail limits business capabilities, too

The T-Mobile G1 wireless phone

The T-Mobile G1 wireless phone

Having the phone locked to T-Mobile "is a problem, absolutely," especially for potential business users, Gold added. Even as iPhone 3G has received criticism for being locked to AT&T in the US, Apple has reached out to a larger business community with its latest release.

A major factor for many businesses that might hear from users who want to use the G1 is whether it will have basic security, such as native encryption or robust user log-on passwords, Gold said. Security was not a focus of the announcement and "remains an unanswered question," he said.

Even if the G1 should most interest consumers, some analysts gave the new device a tepid review. Charles Golvin, an analyst at Forrester Research, said the G1 will appeal to a "somewhat advanced user" who already uses a phone to access the Internet. Still, he said the G1 is not a compelling offer for voice-centric mobile users. "Those will come later."

Even the LiMo Foundation questioned the G1's commitment to openness, noting that it has provided an open Linux platform already used by 23 handsets.

In a statement, Morgan Gillis, executive director of the LiMo Foundation asked, "Which services will be made available to mobile consumers on Google Android handsets but not on other open mobile handsets; will G1 users have an open and free choice about whether or not they subscribe to Google's services; why has Google elected to build its own handset platform rather than working collaboratively with the mobile industry on the available alternatives?"

Kevin Burden, an analyst at ABI Research, said T-Mobile and Google have made it "pretty clear" that the G1 is "not really for the business user." But Burden said future Android phones could easily be provided to carriers other than T-Mobile and with capabilities such as Exchange support.

"Google's goal with Android has been to loosen the grip of the carriers and handset makers on the cell phone market, and I think they've partially succeeded with reaching that goal today," Burden said.

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Matt Hamblen

Computerworld
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