T-Mobile has finally provided details on the G1, they have published a pretty good web site which contains links to most first hand account of the device. It is being called a real competitor to the iPhone but from the press conference T-Mobile is only targeting consumers with this device. The consumer is T-Mobile's USA bread and butter. Over the years they have done an excellent job at providing great value with MyFaves and HotSpot@Home (BTW I did not see either of these features on the G1), their top selling smartphones have been the SideKick and the Blackberry curve. In contrast to T-Mobile in Europe, the USA subsidiary has not provided any advanced Windows Mobile device and unfortunately in its current form the G1 does not currently offer very much for the business user. The Android OS does provide the means for software development and distribution which could fill the gaps making the G1 a business device. However, it seems that T-Mobile and Google are waiting for third parties to fill this gap. In response to the lack of Exchange ActiveSync at the press conference the answer was that this would be a good application for third parties to implement, but will developer's flock to Android the way they did to the iPhone. From my unscientific research it does not look like it, the marketplace is still too iffy at this point. Compared to the millions of iPhones being sold, the analysts have estimated G1 sales to only be in the hundreds of thousands.
The "open" mantra being touted by Google could be a free for all and could lead to very different user experiences by device and by carrier thus diluting the Android brand name. Developers are also concerned that each carrier could have its own app store which could be a real headache when dealing with applications suited for the international marketplace. Even though there are still issues to be ironed out with the Apple app store, the advantage of having a single marketplace for users and developers is a major plus.
There seems to have a ground swell of protests against the 1GB cap (the AT&T cap is 5GB) then reducing throughput language in the contract which T-Mobile has relented on yesterday. I find this topic quite interesting since most of my data usage comes from WIFI and currently my iPhone 3G usage is about 100MB per billing cycle. I agree with the protests, however on the other side of the coin I don't want individuals hogging bandwidth to my detrement. Tethering will also not be allowed, it is clear that the voice market is saturated and the carriers look at data for revenue growth. They want you to pay extra for tethering because data usage on a PC is far greater, but at an average of $60 per month, I find this to be somewhat predatory.
T-Mobile appears to be willing to SIM unlock the devices after 90 days for account in good standing. AT&T should take a lesson, although they have no incentive to so...
At this point, given the very small T-Mobile 3G foot print (I don't even see Washington, DC in the current list) this phone is no threat to Apple, but from an overall marketplace I see the G1 as good competition which will hopefully help keep Apple on its toes and may force some loosening by the control freaks in Cupertino. Yes, I do believe that control gives Apple an edge in providing a uniform user experience, the issue is how much control.
In the end the G1 looks like a pretty good consumer device with excellent technology compared to a Sidekick or Blackberry and even the iPhone. We will have to see how the marketplace reacts since technology alone won't guaranty that it is a hit. As I mentioned before it is about the eco system and on that front, even if they are far from perfect, Apple wins.