Why should anyone care about Android?

Don Reisinger doesn't know why we should care about Google's Android platform. Should we?

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read

When I first heard about Android - Google's "iPhone killer" - I wondered how it would stand up to the leader in the innovative cell phone market. Would it be a best of breed? Would it be a total flop? I didn't know.

Until now.

After reading through the presentation Google made earlier this week, viewing the screenshots, and spending far too much time poring over the videos, I can't help but wonder why anyone would care. Sure, it's a great little device that uses some neat Google apps in new ways, but is it enough of an improvement over the iPhone that people would actually want this thing?

I don't think so.

In today's world of copycats and competition, I think most consumers are looking for something unique. After all, why did so many people buy an underpowered, anti-business, cell phone that's locked down worse than any other we've ever seen? Probably because it's easily the most unique and fresh cell phone on the market and all those all of those issues simply didn't matter.

But unfortunately for Google, it doesn't have that luxury. After looking at what the company and its partners have come up with so far, I'm left wondering why we should care. It has a touchscreen? So does the iPhone. It can make viewing webpages much easier? So can the iPhone. It has a neat little zoom feature? So does the iPhone. You can modify things, add software, and maybe even use 3G? So will the iPhone in a few months.

Do you see what I'm getting at here?

If there's nothing new about Android-based phones, I don't see why anyone would pick those over the iPhone. Now I'm sure some would claim that the carrier matters and that's partially true, but doesn't Android run the risk of looking like the second-class iPhone and thus, a piranha in the cell phone industry if it's just more of the same?

More often than not, people didn't buy the first-generation iPhone because it was too locked down, it was on AT&T, and it wasn't business-friendly. But if Apple and the latest rumors are to be believed, two of those issues will be solved in the next month or so and there's a possibility that the AT&T partnership could crumble as well. In other words, the three issues we're all witnessing with the iPhone may be negated in one month's time - much sooner than the launch of any Android-based phones.

But alas, all is not lost with Android. By its very nature, Google's foray into the mobile industry is customizable and allows vendors to use their imagination with their devices. And while I applaud Google for making that happen, I don't trust any other vendor to truly show us something special the way Apple did.

Android looks like it'll be the second-rate iPhone if Google doesn't up the ante soon. And although I was excited about Android for quite some time, I think it has lost its luster.

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