Last week was a big week for new device releases, which seems to be happening more frequently these days. The two most interesting cellphone releases were the T-mobile (HTC) G2 and the Nokia N8, RIM announced a tablet, and a themed Star Wars cellphone went on sale at Verizon.
The G2 is T-mobile’s follow up to the first commercial Android device, the G1. In the two years since the release of the G1, cellphones have changes radically, and the differences between the G1 and G2 are a great example of the advancements. The G2 takes advantage of T-mobile’s HSPA+ network, which allows for download speeds in excess of 20Mbps (faster than most home internet connections), and has a “stock” version of Android. A “stock” version of Android allows the Android operating system to be upgraded faster, which I have found to be a major benefit of the Nexus One that I’ve been using. I consistently get Android operating system updates 2-3 months before anyone else. The bottom line, if you’re looking for a clean Android experience and can’t get your hand on a Nexus One, the G2 is the next best thing.
Nokia also began shipping its N8 smartphone last week. While still the leader in both overall and smartphone shipments, Nokia has become all but forgotten due to all the iPhone and Android hype. It’s quite an unfortunate situation as Nokia still makes great hardware, and the N8 is no exception. However, since Nokia does not have a strong relationship with any of the major US carriers, no one has launched a major marketing initiative around the device. Unless Nokia really steps up both their marketing effort and carrier relationship status in the US, I would suspect that Nokia will continue to fade away into a niche player in the US market, which is a shame based on the quality of their hardware. If you’re seriously interested in picking up the device, your best bet is going to be to shell out the cash and buy the N8 directly from Nokia.
While I am not a huge tablet fan, BlackBerry maker RIM announced their tablet called the PlayBook last week. My first reaction was that RIM is making a huge mistake, until RIM co-CEO Mike Lazardis spoke about it. RIM is positioning the PlayBook as a companion to their smartphones targeted directly at business users. I think BlackBerry may be onto something. Businesses may be hesitant to buy employees iPads due to the level of distraction from games and apps that are available. With the PlayBook, enterprises will be given more control and the majority of applications will be business oriented. I suspect that businesses will be more receptive to buying their employees PlayBooks, which could overflow into consumer sales, much like their BlackBerry smartphone platform. In essence, I like the strategy, now it is up to RIM to execute.
In other handset news, another interesting device released last week was the R2-D2 themed Droid 2 from Motorola. Themed cellphones is an untapped market in my opinion. People are always looking for a way to stand out from the crowd, and themed cellphones are a great way to achieve it. I’m very curious to see how well these R2-D2 themed units sell. If they sell as well as I think they should, I suspect that you will see a lot more themed cellphones making their way into the market.
Finally, if you are interested in what the future holds for mobile phones, then take a look at this Mozilla video for a concept phone called “Seabird – A Community-driven Concept Phone.” Mozilla does not have any intention to build the phone, but it is clearly a sign of what is possible and what could be coming to mobile phones in the near future. I particularly like the idea of the included Bluetooth headset/mouse as well as the projectors that allow you to turn any surface into an interactive screen. I suspect that you will see phones within the next 2 or3 years with this type of technology, and I can’t wait!