With Google’s first Android cellphone, the iPhone lastly bought a rival

remembering the first Google Android Phone: HTC T Mobile G1

Ten years in the past tomorrow, October 20, the T-Mobile G1 launched within the US. The primary Android cellphone wasn’t a lot of a looker, and it suffered a clunky beginning, however none of that mattered. Even because the G1 (aka the HTC Dream exterior the US) debuted to a blended reception, it was clear that Android had the potential to eclipse Apple’s iPhone in ways in which the stalwart manufacturers of the day — BlackBerry, Palm, Nokia and Home windows Cellular — couldn’t. A decade later, it has.

In the present day, over 85 p.c of all of the world’s telephones run on Android. It is a startling accomplishment when you think about that the T-Cellular G1/HTC Dream lacked the iPhone’s breezy attractiveness and finesse. A swing-out bodily keyboard pissed off us with flat keys; a fats, jutting chin bought in the best way of typing; fundamentals like a digital keyboard and headphone jack had been nowhere to be discovered. However this thick, heavy handset left an indelible mark on the smartphone world, and helped deliver us to the place we’re in the present day. Whereas the iPhone’s power was in its clear, easy design and intuitive structure, the very first Android cellphone introduced persona and the power to customise your expertise. 

The HTC Dream/T-Cellular G1 additionally had a couple of essential options that the iPhone of the day — the iPhone 3G, working ‘iPhone OS 2’ — lacked: Options like a greater digital camera and replica/paste. The facility of Google’s platform. Most significantly, the G1 proved {that a} software program firm may again a profitable mobile phone. This is how this ugly duckling machine made its mark.

1. Proof that customization is king

The G1 instantly set itself aside from the primary iPhone by permitting a deep capability to alter and ideal the way you used the cellphone. For the actually bold that might imply writing their very own apps. However for most individuals, tweaking the G1’s house display screen to their liking was a wonderful begin and a core a part of Android’s identification. Between app launchers, icon packs, wallpapers, widgets and folders, what you noticed did not must be what you bought.

The iPhone later caught up — now you’ll be able to change the house display screen background and rearrange apps into folders — however the G1 confirmed that customization in smartphones mattered (and in a manner that was far simpler to make use of than Home windows Cellular).

It wasn’t simply people customizing their Android telephones. Android’s open platform additionally meant that smartphone makers may take the bottom Android OS and construct on their very own look with themes, launchers and even further apps and options.

In fact, there was one disadvantage to an open system. Fragmentation, that elephant all the time lurking in Android’s room, later turned an impediment to fast Android updates, particularly as producers needed to tweak the updates to match their customized skins.

Client urge for food for the type of customization Android provided was evident from the very first G1, and is what helped make Android so profitable in the present day.

2. App market from the beginning


The iTunes App Store debuted just a few months before the G1, however the HTC cellphone nonetheless scored a coup over Apple’s 2007 smartphone debut by launching with its app ecosystem already in place. 

The Android Market (later to turn out to be Google Play) meant that G1 homeowners did not have to attend to do extra with their telephones, whether or not it was play video games, store or simply keep organized. Even than it was clear that apps had been the way forward for telephones, and G1 was prepared.

The character of the Android Market had its execs and cons. By adopting a looser vetting and approval course of than the one Apple adopted, Google’s app retailer enabled a wider number of apps and was friendlier to builders of all skills. 

On the draw back, much less high quality management meant you had been extra prone to chunk into some app lemons, and apps did not all the time conform to every Android replace.

3. The G1 multiplied Google’s energy within the pocket

As the primary Android machine, the T-Mobile G1 allowed Google to make you much more depending on its on-line instruments.

The iPhone’s power was in working with different Apple {hardware}. The first iPhone was mainly essentially the most magical iPod that Apple had ever made, because it additionally positioned calls and had apps you possibly can additionally discover on the Mac.


Google took the alternative method by specializing in the ecosystem of Google’s already sturdy and consistently increasing software program empire. Right here, you had the facility of Google Search in your pocket, plus Gmail and Google’s terrific maps app. Sure, a lot of that was accessible on the iPhone as effectively — Google Maps was the default iPhone mapping app till Apple created its personal, initially far inferior Apple Maps in 2012 —  however with Android, it was all built-in and tightly built-in. For those who already used Google instruments, Android was a no brainer.

For Google, it meant that you just’d come to depend on Google merchandise at house, at work and now all over the place in between the 2.

4. It set the precedent for a number of designs

remembering the first Google Android Phone: HTC T Mobile G1

Though the primary Android cellphone had the QWERTY keyboard and many buttons, selection was all the time the plan. 

The G1’s job was to point out patrons how a ‘Google cellphone’ would work, and to present app builders one thing they may sink their tooth into, in order that the following Android telephones began with a stronger basis.

It wasn’t lengthy earlier than the Android-curious had been capable of see telephones from Motorola, Samsung, LG and much more units from HTC. This small military of Androids marched out with totally different dimension screens, dimensions, digital camera capabilities — you title it.

However with out that first Android cellphone to plant the flag, and to check patrons’ curiosity, we might have by no means seen the Motorola Droid, which was marketed as a real iPhone various; the HTC Evo 4G (first 4G cellphone within the US); the primary Samsung Galaxy Note with its S Pen; or the Google Pixel 3 we’re anticipating to see on Oct. 9.

5. HTC’s magic paved the best way for Pixel

Earlier than the T-Cellular G1, HTC was a smallish Taiwanese producer striving to turn out to be a worldwide model amongst giants like Samsung and Motorola. 

The G1 gave HTC the chance to interrupt out and the beginning of a agency relationship between the corporate and Google. Subsequent got here the Google Ion/T-Mobile MyTouch 3G (the second Android cellphone), the HTC Hero (the primary CDMA Android handset) and the HTC Droid Eris (the primary Android cellphone with pinch-to-zoom).


However it was actually with the Nexus One in 2010 that HTC hit its Android stride. A ‘pure’ Android cellphone, it obtained Android updates shortly and delivered a welcome various to the producer skins that had turn out to be widespread. Since then, HTC continued to provide among the greatest Android units, like first Pixel phone in 2016. This yr Google even paid $1.1 billion to rent HTC engineers for whatever comes next.

6. A real Apple rival turned the one Apple rival

Maybe essentially the most important impact of the HTC Dream/T-Cellular G1 was its function as a fierce, iPhone rival. Google and Apple — headquartered simply 11 miles away from one another in Silicon Valley — had been two of essentially the most highly effective and thrilling tech firms on the earth.

remembering the first Google Android Phone: HTC T Mobile G1

Apple and Google had been additionally model new entrants into an already-crowded cellphone house, populated by BlackBerry, Nokia (Symbian OS) and Windows Mobile devices on the ‘good’ finish and flip or candybar telephones on the low-end. (‘Characteristic telephones’ had been a center layer totally.)

The iPhone’s reputation exploded, and the veteran platforms could not sustain. However then Android got here alongside. It was recent, it was new, and it had the would possibly of Google’s appreciable assets to counter Apple as a cellphone platform of the longer term.

The T-Cellular G1 additionally pushed Apple to do higher, bringing characteristic parity to later iPhones, like a greater digital camera, maps with turn-by-turn instructions and…copy/paste. Google was so profitable, that Android in the present day is not does not simply compete with the iPhone — it is the solely iPhone rival left.

And it began with that humorous little cellphone.


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