Google Android was nicknamed ‘Kila’ apparently in reference to its intended role against the Apple iPhone and there will be plenty of comments on this aspect, (Business Week provided a good balanced view), but in my usual slightly different way of looking of things I want to stress the differences. I am increasingly a believer in the theory that mass market products will have a set of generic features that make comparisons difficult as they will all tick every one of the boxes and therefore it pays to focus on the differences.
However the differences don’t lie so much in the features list, they lie in the optimisation of the interfacing for particular purposes. Though this blog will use the Google phone and iPhone issue to explore the point, increasingly I find the same approach holds true for more and more technology. I believe that as we see the ‘people’ aspect being the key driver for the current generation of products and services, and therefore, are trying to keep technology interaction as unobtrusive as possible, this is the new ‘differentiation’ to focus upon.

Less speeds, and feeds, or specmanship, and more focus on the look and feel of the presentation for the user when doing the common tasks that the solution is being provided to support. Let’s try this out on the two phones; btw the first Google Android phone comes from HTC, is based on their Dream handset and called the G1. The most immediately obvious features are that it has a reasonable QWERTY keyboard and looks functionally industrial, the specification ticks all the boxes, against the iPhone, but now try the ‘what do I use it for’ test.
iPhone is a consumer device, with music and entertainment at the top of list of activities, and the Apple controlled market for add-ons and downloads makes sure that everything will work reliably to extend this consumer market. It’s cool, funky, and fun, and makes mobility everything that you might want it to be.
The G1 is a business tool and the whole point is the in-depth integration into the world of Google, aka the world of the web, is to optimise this environment. Working out of the office on Google Apps with a full QWERTY keyboard is fine, search and use information, collaborate through a wide variety of tools, or make use of Android as an Open Source platform to extend and add other Open Source business tools.
Looked at this way there are some pretty big differences, but the real test comes when holding both and doing exactly what you plan to use the phone for, though is will not be clear for another 3 months at least. I expect to find that Android will feel very different from iPhone in the user experience, or the more correctly in the users prime role for the phone. For now I hope my point about evaluation by user interaction testing, even personal configuring abilities, rather than specification, is clear.
This post actually also enables me to reference one of the new combinations of Internet and Web based services are coming to market that could be running on these phones and may be the kind of service that will influence the choice. Fresh from TechCrunch 50 and the Crunchbase site of new companies comes Angstro, with the proposition that in our people centric world we want to know when certain people make the news, as opposed to searching periodically for the content they have produced, or using RSS on their blogs, etc. I wasn’t too sure about this until the melt down of the Investment Banking sector, and then following the statements and pronouncements of various key individuals became very important, so suddenly I got their point.
The Angstro contention is that there are many professionals in our business lives that we don’t have a social network, or ‘friends’ relationship with as we don’t know them personally, so we don’t get updates from them. Angstro collates around a series of factors to allow segmentation to get the right people, in the right context, on the right topic, you can get the full story from their site. As a practical example I follow certain folk in the technology industry and they all post and comment a lot, getting this sorted out to focus on the topics I want helps, combine it with certain folks in Business Schools and it gets very useful, make it timely and its wonderfull!
So if a critical success factor in modern business is to recognise key events, and key peoples’ responses, in order to decide how to optimise your own operations this is an interesting service. For those in fast moving and changing sectors, such as finance it’s probably a must have, and I don’t see it being optimised as a Blackberry service either!