I saw an article on ZDNet yesterday which forecast that Google’s Android operating system would take half of the smartphone market – I believe it – actually I think it could take more and lead to a dramatic reduction in prices for smartphones – including the iPhone.
I reached the conclusion whilst catching up on handset news down at our local Carphone Warehouse.
The manager reckoned that the average pre-pay handset price was around £100 so I looked at the wall and saw the little green android logo peering out from behind an LG GT540 on sale for £99.95 (see pic below).
Back in the office, in went my giffgaff SIM and I immediately received the giffgaff settings via SMS that hooked me up to the web – plus no need to unlock the phone as Carphone Warehouse sell their prepay handsets unlocked if they possibly can.
For the price, this handset is a revelation – here are a few of the highlights…
Integrated gmail with contacts and calendar synchronisation.
3G data, Wi-fi, stereo Bluetooth, FM radio plus built-in GPS with turn by turn, voice guided navigation – again from Google.
Digital compass, level and position sensors built in.
Pre-loaded apps including integrated social media aggregator and Android Market so you can get more.
A 3 meg camera with lots of features inc. auto focus, face recognition & video capture.
Wi-fi, Music player, video player with Xvid and Divx playback.
So everything the original iPhone had and some things that even the iPhone 4 doesn’t have yet.
The handset has been criticised for having a poor screen and running a version of Android that’s a version or two behind the very latest that’s out there. But honestly, for the average user, these drawbacks aren’t serious and, in my view, for a handset that is five times cheaper than an iPhone it’s a miraculous device (Apple would probably describe it as “Magical”).
So if I was sitting in Cupertino I’d be worried - value differences like this will get noticed by customers eventually. I’d be working on getting a cheaper iPhone Nano to market and adjusting my business plan to cut £150 off the price of a standard iPhone before a raft of better and probably cheaper handsets like the GT540 come along.
Perhaps it’s also why Apple relented yesterday in allowing software translators to again be used for its Apps – Apple may not like Adobe originated code on its phones but that’s not nearly as bad as being over taken in the apps stakes by Android.