Saturday, March 26, 2011

spring 2011 - celly status

I ultimately grabbed a T-Mobile G1 around the time I wrote a cell status blog entry in 2008. I've been very happy with the phone and service. Currently, the plan's been paid since October of last year. T-Mobile unlocked the G1 and I've been considering a newer phone recently. I like T-Mobile service.

But since 2008, I'm amazed at how significantly the landscape for considering a phone and service plan has changed. Stated simply, the Android G1 was a huge financial success and I hope Google can weather all of the lawsuits that appear to come with success in America these days.

In my view, the success of Android/G1 was that it combined good HTC hardware with an excellent software scenario (for a 2008 phone). Android had some lockdowns, but compared to the garbage software in Windows phones, it was a different universe. The G1's only real competitor was the iPhone and, in that contest, the G1 also arguably carried an advantage. The Apple iPhone has proprietary lockdowns on its software and charged for most applications. Conversely, the G1/Android allowed open-source Android application development. This meant random developers created thousands of apps, many of them free. One could download these directly through the Google Market. Android continues to grow in relevance and anyone, eg you, can create an Android application.

Below are my upgrade considerations of provider and hardware/software, but I'll also skip to the chase here and note that the T-Mobile G2 is my decision. Here is a reasonable video review of the phone. (11:44)


I consider T-Mobile a customer-friendly and fair-priced cell service. Also T-Mobile is one of the two major US providers (T-Mobile, ATT) who's cell technology is moving from WCMDA to HSPA+. Phones with the WCDMA (legacy GSM) protocol can also be used in Europe. When traveling to Europe, just purchase a plan and a SIM upon arrival - no need to purchase another phone. That said, in the longer run, it appears both the US and Europe will eventually migrate to LTE, and this will likely be a standard across all of the big 4 carriers (Sprint, Verizon, ATT, T-Mobile).

provider legal
ATT :: ATT is the licensed US provider of the iPhone. They must have noted that many potential iPhone/ATT customers turned instead to the reasonable pricing and customer service package of G1/T-Mobile. In response, ATT has apparently been unable or unwilling to compete. Instead, ATT appears poised to buy T-Mobile. Following the purchase, ATT can simply raise the lower rates of T-Mobile customers to ATT rates, and needn't improve ATT customer-service or service plans. Very discouraging, and I hope this purchase does not pass FCC/DoJ muster. ATT would have both iPhone and Android phone accounts, as well as any WCDMA phone, and all without competition in pricing.


Looking at Android phones, currently, the interesting processors are the Qualcomm Snapdragon and the Hummingbird, both of which are ARM Cortex A8 cores. The Hummingbird is faster, but HTC chose to produce the G2 with the 800 MHz Snapdragon. However, even though Hummingbird would have been preferable, the G2 runs Android OS 2.2 Froyo, which is optimized. In benchmarks, the G2 running the Snapdragon with Froyo appears to be faster than other phones running the Hummingbird. This may be in part to the G2's GPU. Whatever the reason for its performance, I'm pleased with the G2's second generation.

The G2 ships with about 1.2GB available internal memory, and an 8GB SD card (can take up to a 32GB sd card). Since it's running 2.2, applications can be saved to the SD card. There's a 5 megapixel camera, and it takes 720P video.

hardware/software legal
Oracle :: Following Google/Android's success, Oracle decided to buy Sun-Java in 2010. Initially, this seemed odd, since it only seemed to provide Oracle with some relatively unprofitable IP rights to Java, Open-Office, and MySQL. It turns out that the Android OS arguably uses a portion of Java not perfectly protected by Google's previous release agreement with Sun-Java. Oracle was thereby immediately able to sue Google for remedies ($$$) under US software patent laws. Little need to wonder why Oracle purchased Sun-Java.

Microsoft :: Current US software patent law also apparently allows preemptive coercive strikes. Microsoft attorneys recently found a way to make the G1's hardware manufacturer, HTC, pay licensing fees to Microsoft. This was so that HTC, which uses no Microsoft software, could continue to build Google's phones without risking legal harrassment from Microsoft. Microsoft seems to argue these days that the entirety of open-source software is ultimately based on Microsoft's code. This has never been proven anywhere, but who can afford to take on Microsoft legal gunslingers? Cheaper to just pay the license.

Apple :: Apple simply decided the best strategy was to sue HTC. Apple appears to claim G1 technology really belongs to Apple. Give me a break.


Taken together then, HTC is being sued (by Apple) for what it does produce, and being legally pressured for what it doesn't produce (by Microsoft). Meanwhile, Oracle is suing Google, and ATT is attempting to buy out T-Mobile. God help organizations that attempt to innovate and produce a successful product in today's America. I will buy the G2 just to help HTC and Google's legal defense funds, if for no other reason. The G1 was a great phone and the litigation is about greed, not about commonly held views of justice.

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