Initial Thoughts on The G1

  I Got My Android G1 
  Originally uploaded by fredwilson.

I spent the day yesterday at the New Business For News Summit and played a bit with the G1 I got the day before. For those who want to know, it is a loaner and I am not using it as a phone yet. I am still carrying around my trusty blackberry curve.

So here are some thoughts:

1) Keyboard – I love the sidekick style keyboard. I used a sidekick for almost a year and it’s a fantastic user experience. The keys are not as tactile as a blackberry and I think the blackberry keyboard is better, but the G1 keyboard is just fine. If you can’t use an iPhone (like me) because of the touch keyboard, this will work fine for you.

2) The Browser – Way better than the Blackberry but not anyway near the iPhone’s browser. I kept trying the pinch gesture in the browser. They need that bigtime.

3) App Market – Really nice. Great experience. A surprising amount to choose from.

4) Installing apps from the browser. A big win. I installed Twitroid via a browser download. It worked just fine. This is the value of an open phone versus a closed phone (iPhone).

5) Gmail and Gcal – as you might expect, these google apps work perfectly on a Google phone. I forward all my outlook mail to gmail and I use Google calendar synch to keep my gcal and outlook calendar sync’d up. I don’t yet have a good solution for getting my outlook contacts to google but I think my friend Charlie pointed Bijan to one yesterday that I’ll try out. Of course the right thing for me to do is just move to Google apps and leave outlook and if I stick with this phone, I’ll do that.

6) Battery life – i don’t think my battery was completely charged yesterday morning so take this with a grain of salt, but by noon the battery was dead. My blackberry goes all day on an overnight charge.

7) Twitroid – the best non-iphone twitter app I’ve ever used. one thing I’d love is "saved searches" since I search on certain words all the time in twitter.

That’s about it for now. I didn’t really get into the phone yesterday so these are my initial reactions. I’ll play with it some more and get back to you all with a more exhaustive review.

I’ll end by saying that Android is a great mobile OS, certainly in the same class as the iPhone OS, and way better than windows mobile. I can’t speak to Symbian because I’ve not really used it. Blackberry is still the simplest and most powerful OS for a hard core business user, but Android is close and will only get better. And because of the open source/open hardware model that Google has adopted, we are likely to see a huge number of hardware configurations for this OS in the coming years. Android’s a winner in my book.

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Comments (Archived):

  1. Jason

    Thanks for the reviews, waiting for my first G1 🙂

  2. rah33ls

    if gmail keeps improving at the rate it is – then G1 will be a no brainer for me.oh.and as long as the smart phone experience is as good the desktop experience.

  3. mattb4rd

    My wife and I both have T-Mobile and we definitely want one of these. Unfortunatelty, the $350.00 each quote we received makes it cost prohibitive at this time. We didn’t even bother checking to see if the phone required an upgrade in our service plan. I’m sure it does.Thanks for the review.

  4. tim

    Blackberry is great for e-mail and thats it. So if you define “hard core business user” in that context sure. Windows Mobile is the best business OS as it has the applications for it. But in my few minutes of playing around with Android I can away with a feeling of “meh”. Its not a game changer. And being “open” (whatever that means) hasn’t worked for Linux desktop and its not going to work for Mobile market. So I am in a wait and see attitude on how google improves this and how it sells (I really don’t see a lot of apps being developed for it). But since Google is just an advertising company I am not holding my breath.(in front of me I have a blackberry, three iPhones, and a Blackjack running Windows Mobile 5 – not one customer of mine has expressed interest in Android)

    1. Mac

      I was going to comment on the “hard core business user” thing, too… except I’m on a PalmOS Treo, and I’m often annoyed because neither of my two Blackberry-toting partners can actually edit Office documents and view PDFs. And their battery life sucks by comparison.I do expect a huge number of apps to be developed for Android, and I think Google’s biggest mistake was going with T-Mobile. I know quite a few people who want an Android phone but won’t touch this one because of the carrier dependency (myself included). Heck, I’d probably spend what little spare time I have looking into writing an Exchange client if only the phone wasn’t stuck on T-Mobile. But instead I’m stuck waiting to see if it gets picked up by a real carrier with decent coverage.Google’s search business wasn’t a game-changer either. They started when Alta-Vista was the undisputed king. I think their tactic is the same: to simply do the smartphone thing better, perhaps even just incrementally better, and let the snowball-accumulation effect work its magic.

    2. Michael Koby

      Umm, I have SEVERAL useful third-party applications installed on my BlackBerry Curve. And I’m sorry, just about every Windows Mobile device I’ve touched or seen needs to be rebooted on a CONSTANT basis. Having to constantly reboot your phone does not make it the best business OS (in fact just the opposite in my opinion). Also, keep in mind that RIM outsells WM devices something like 5 to 1 easily (and I’m probably undershooting). Executives like their phones to work, not be constantly rebooted. If you want to argue what “hardcore business users” are using, look at the numbers, you’ll find it ain’t the iPhone or WM.Also, what do you mean “open” hasn’t worked for Linux? There are more people using Linux today than ever before. Linux has helped Amazon and Google become power houses in today’s internet market. So I’m not sure what your definition of “working” is, but it seems it is largely different than mine.

  5. Question

    is it true you can use only one google account for every g1?

  6. hud

    Why is no one talking about how good the G1 smells? Day three and my phone still smells like a brand new sneaker. It’s a time-bound feature that wont last, but the intoxication is/was for realz.

  7. kenberger

    Like all things Google, this seems destined to launch relatively softly and then iteratively change until it eitherA. Takes over the freakin’ world (gmaps, gmail)B. Leaves some scratching their heads (gtalk).For a first release product, the G1 exceeds my expectations by a long shot. I think in some ways it is a ‘dream’ to use.Open source and market effects need to kick in to open up the true power of Android. Someone needs to offer an Outlook Exchange app pronto, etc. This needs to be truly open and ‘do no evil’. I don’t want to see a microsoft-like annoyance that things are optimized around gmail, gcal. Freedom of choice!I still adhere to the feeling that as long as the world is carrier-dominated, market share will be limited, not that iPhone doesn’t still do reasonably well depite this. Andy Rubin certainly learned that through building Danger (Sidekick creator).

    1. mattb4rd

      YES. Outlook exchange. My company has been flirting with the idea of getting blackberrys for management. I’d rather have one of these.

      1. kenberger

        Also, just stating the obvious, but you could count on this phone NOT having either pinch screen (multi-touch) or Outlook so soon. Things are calculated on each release to ensure the product is not overly popular. Too much risk in taking a first release product and draining the fledgling T-Mo 3G network.As long as we’re on the subject, worth noting that by quick looks at very recent earnings numbers, Apple wound up taking a hit due to high bandwidth usage of iPhones, while AT&T gained due to flip side.

  8. fredwilson

    Testing posting to disqus from the g1 browser

    1. obscurelyfamous

      How’s the commenting experience from the G1?

      1. fredwilson


  9. josh guttman

    Fred – stick with team blackberry. The Storm and Bold (i’ve used the Bold) both offer significant improvement over the Curve and with the economy where it is, pricing should be reasonable. I haven’t seen a device that can compare on the three most important features: (1) battery life or (2) emailing ease and efficiency (3) calendar and contact sync and maintenance. Not sure why everyone is knocking RIMM but I believe they are still superior business devices.

    1. daryn

      I maintain the opinion that battery life only seems to be so bad on the iphone/g1 because they are so awesome that you are continually pulling them out and using the high battery consumption features (data polling, wi-fi/3g with the browser and connected apps, etc.) I’d love to see a head-to-head comparision with a BB Bold — same number of web requests, phone calls, maps w/ gps, …There’s a lot of great features and potential in the G1, but it feels very first-gen and unrefined right now, especially as far as the hardware is concerned. You’re right about efficiency on the blackberry (not so sure ‘ease’ is any better…), but there’s a visceral satisfaction to using an iPhone, and, to a lesser extent the G1, that just isn’t there with any of the current BBs. Even if you’re strictly business, shouldn’t you enjoy your experience? 🙂

      1. josh guttman

        That head-to-head web request comparison would be interesting to see.Personally, I’m someone who doesn’t feel like I need to be online via myphone. I spend more than enough time online and the mobile experiencewill always be far inferior because of the screen size, but that’s mypersonal opinion. When you compound the battery and stability issues thatall my iPhone friends experience, it’s enough to keep me away. I was apocket pc guy at one time, so am familiar with HTC and have mediocrefeelings about them. The form factor is enough to keep me away from the G1.As for the visceral satisfaction, that’s Apple’s fundamental contributionand the reason why I’m married to Mac laptops. The bells, whistles,whizbangs and doohickeys are fun for sure and they make the experience moregratifying, but I’m still not thirsting to spend more time on my pda. Theblackberry has already maxed me out. The only thing I truly miss on theblackberry is integrated memory capacity for music, and it looks likeexternal sd cards/blackberry media sync will address that. I’m hoping theStorm takes it a step further.

    2. fredwilson

      I do too, but I so believe in an open OS and a real browserIf only blackberry would do what google has done

  10. Loic Le Meur

    as you read it here is my G1 review with similar conclusions…except the applications marketplace Fred, I must have been to the wrong directories, will try again!

  11. markslater

    Well i have the Gphone and i have done the rounds with it since i got it last wednesday. It worked great in the UK – in fact some friends were asking where they could get one..that aside here are my 3 plus points and my three minus points (keep it short and try and cover what others havent)Plus:- APPS APPS APPS – for a whole host of reasons this will blow the doors of the iphone app approach – i absolutely hate the itunes lockdown approach. The barcode scanner is awsome, i also called a cab one touch from the cab app in manchester england at 12 at night – awsome. – Customization – i can open the back, change Sims, batteries, memory cards. Come on apple. this is obvious- simplicity – i am charging the phone connected to my mac, i used several other computers over the last few days – no device recognition, or need to launch an app to do this.MINUS:- Headphone jack – absurd – i like to use my Bose headphones now i have to go and find some stupid connector – is this an HTC thing? its absolutely ridiculous and they have to change this- Battery – oh no… doesn’t look good – ok it can be switched out but it is shockingly inadequate- exchange – i need exchange integration – i dont particulary want to forward to Gmail – i just like exchange and just put my entire company on remote server.- navigation – i need to get used to it – i cant get to ring silent mode easily, dont like how it notifies me of email or sms – again may just be a case of getting used to this, but some one who has used a BB for 12 years – it is hard to see how i get to that level of comfort with this – i will give it another 2 weeks before i go back to black.

    1. fredwilson

      You nailed it markMy son was oohing and aahing over the gphone until he saw the headphonesBack to the iphone for him

    2. Nate

      The hell?! If there’s one thing you never ever screw with it’s the standard headphone jack. Even Apple — notorious for making people unnecessarily buy new cables and docks — backed off on the 1st iPhone’s recessed headphone jack on the 3G iPhone.It’s interesting how every other new touchscreen phone has 2-3 more buttons on the front than the iPhone. Jonathan Ive is a genius: extra buttons means every time you look at the phone you have to make a decision, move your hand to the right place, etc. Steve Jobs finally got his “zero button mouse” wish with the new MacBook trackpad. There are no buttons on it, but it has all the functionality of multiple buttons thanks to intuitive gestures.

  12. markslater

    BACK SHE GOES -well i have given it two weeks – done alot of miles, different networks and generally tried out the phone in as many different ways as i could, and there is no question in my mind that this is going back – it is not even close, and frankly it wont get another chance with me without a wholly different, hardware, ergonomics, usability, and overall re-think – here is why:1. headphone jack – see above2. ring volume – the speaker is rubbish and you cant here the thing ring3. weight – its too clunky – dont care about carrying but when it gets dropped – it dont sound good4. keyboard – flipboard – lose it – its one extra movement i have to make in addition to application selection and that is one movement too long5. How they can put this thing out with that battery should cost the job for someone who shepards the google brand – i am tethered to power – i am seeking counseling on this its so ridiculous6. POP email – horrible – continued lost connections – no way to reduce font size to see more messages on a single screen – means you have to scroll and then you over touch the screen and inadvertently launch a message and then you have to go back……. – blackberry users will know where i am going with this7. headphone and mike – horrible actual design (forget the socket) the thing is too heavy – gets over tangled8. phone – speaker is rubbish.its a shame – there is alot of promise in the software, the apps are – well iphone like – and will likely beat out iphone as its open source, but google – when you get in the phone business you cant ignore the importance of the device. you may be able to seperate layers on the internet, but with a device – there is no seperating – you are a brand victim of poor hardware here, and you are a brand victim of the network – you cant parse this out, it wont work. that HTC device will not catch on with the youngsters, or the roaming workforce – it just wont.solution – if you truly want to take on the apples and the blackberries – lets face all on here are one or the other – you need to take control of the device. Apple proved it can just about get away with outsourcing the network (JUST i might add) but there is no way around the marriage of software and hardware when it sits in my pocket.this in hindsight was a throughly poor decision. I had high hopes as i love google – and yes there are alot of application positives, but i have to question your strategic judgement in allowing your brand to be put in the hands of a brick.back to black i go….and till a few more next times