Another Day, Another Convenient G-Phone Leak

By  |  Tuesday, September 16, 2008 at 3:47 pm

I have to hand it to the folks at Google/HTC, they are playing the media game well. Today’s rumor du jour about the first phone based on Google’s Android operating system comes from the pages of the Wall Street Journal, who does the “sources close to the matter” bit and says that the HTC Dream is due out in late October. A formal announcement appears to be set for next Tuesday, if the paper is correct.

Next to the iPhone, the Dream is probably the most highly anticipated phone of the past two years. If the demand is truly there, T-Mobile USA stands to benefit the most as it is said to have a 90-day exclusive period for the device, which would make it the only carrier to have the phone during the critical holiday shopping season.

That said, HTC is placing lofty expectations on the device. Company officials expect to ship anywhere from 600,000 to 700,000 phones according to the WSJ, which is significantly higher than the 300,000 to 500,000 predicted by analysts.

T-Mobile no doubt has equally high expectations. With its 3G network rolling out in just over two dozen markets through the rest of this year, a high profile device like the Dream is important to spur adoption. High-speed data equals higher data prices. Higher data prices equals more revenue per user, which obviously adds to the bottom line.

Out of all the major carriers, T-Mobile is the last to turn on its 3G network. Since the carrier is essentially playing catch-up, creating this amount of buzz makes a lot of sense. I find it hard to believe that these leaks are not intentional: After all, its got a lot of the tech media, and more importantly the mainstream media, talking about it.

It was the extraordinary buzz surrounding the iPhone that helped Apple to sell so many of the phones so quickly, and the same could be said for the Dream as well.

But the hype could spell trouble for Google. An article in the Financial Times from September 5 seems to suggest that the company could be setting itself up for a flop as those who’ve seen the device seem to have been nonplussed about it.

Writer Richard Waters claims that the “overwhelming verdict” of both the industry and developers is that the device will not be the hit that some are making it out to be. In fact, some are drawing the inevitable comparsions to the iPhone, and they’re not pretty.

The story goes on to say there is a variety of reasons for such sentiment: a lack of focus on the consumer, complaints over the interface, and the lack of any reason to purchase the phone. Another industry executive pointed out that many of Google’s services are already available on other devices, which makes the device less compelling.

Yankee Group analyst John Jackson summed up these views rather succinctly: “It ain’t no iPhone.” Ouch. But then again, wouldn’t differentiating itself from the device be more of a positive than a negative?

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