Some people have been poo-pooing the iPad ever since it debuted, claiming that better, cheaper tablets running Google’s Android operating system were coming real soon now, and, last I heard, the Samsung Galaxy Tablet was going to be the one that finally delivered.
I don’t know what those people are claiming now, but now that the Galaxy is here, I’m not real impressed. Verizon is selling it for $599, only $30 less than what they are selling the iPad and a bundled MeFi mobile WiFi hot spot for.
I’m not surprised by the weak showing. Android phones have done as well as they have because mobile carriers and handset makers were terrified at the prospect of Apple getting all the goodies. It helped that their true price was hidden by the carrier hardware subsidy, and paid back over the life of a two year contract. The iPad is sold without a subsidy and so far at least Samsung is following suit. The result though is that the prices seem much more comparable, and so the deficiencies of Android, which Google themselves don’t think is ready for tablets, and the hardware are much harder to look past.
Rumors of a Google-branded phone based on their Android OS have kicked up again after a Wall Street Journal article, cited unnamed “people familiar with the matter” confirming the existence of the project. Latest rumors have the device arriving as early as next year.
What’s most notable is that the rumored Google-phone will launched without a carrier partner, and sold unlocked, which is an unusual approach in the US. That means no carrier subsidies, which typically knock a couple hundred dollars or so off the price of smartphones. Many are taking that to mean that the Google phone will be priced like unlocked smartphones are now, which is just ridiculous.
Just as carriers subsidize phones because they plan to make a lot of money locking people into a two-year contract, Google has other revenue streams it can tap if people are using one of its phones. For a start, its a good bet that they are already paying money out to mobile carriers and device makers in order to make Google the default search and map provider on the iPhone, and other devices. For a Google-branded phone, that money could instead go to subsidizing the cost of the phone. That’s just the start, they could also include more-intrusive mobile advertising, though I suspect that isn’t going to be necessary as the mobile ad market grows.
I’m interested to see where this all leads. Apple managed to pry control away from mobile carriers when it launched the iPhone. It certainly seems like it will be another step towards loosening the hold mobile carriers, have on users in the US at least. Of course, this just assumes that there really is going to be a “Google phone,” and that this latest frenzy isn’t just a big hoo-hah over T-Mobile’s next android phone, which is entirely plausible.
When WordPress.com launched themes targeted at small screens like the iPhone earlier this week, I was reminded that I was going to figure out how to improve the way Geekfun and our other blogs like Pet Project look on mobile devices. Long ago I tried an early iPhone theme for WordPress, but gave up on it, I think because it created problems with the caching solution I was trying to use at the time.
This time out, the solution was simple. I installed the sweet WPTouch plugin from Brave New Code. I’m quite happy with it. It loads quickly and it is very readable and easy to use. It only displays for mobile users, everyone else still sees your blog’s original theme, and its easy for Mobile users to switch to your regular theme if that is what they prefer. It is also allows for a healthy amount of customization, which I’ll have to dive into deeper before rolling it out on our other sites.
If you host your own WordPress blog, I suggest you check out WPTouch, or one of the other mobile themes that are available, like Carrington Mobile, or WordPress Mobile Pack.