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What's a Smartphone buyer to do?

Attention citizens:  the smartphone world has been turned on its ear (almost pun intended . . . think about it)!  A couple of years ago the iPhone burst on the scene and changed everything!  Well, that's what Apple would have you believe.  It changed some things, yes.  It created a new market for a machine that was, yes, a phone, but was so much more.  Trouble was/is, it was/is only a mediocre phone, thanks in part to the cellular radio and/or antenna, and thanks, in large part, to AT&T about whom it can be said that their service isn't very good, but at least it's the most expensive!

When the iPhone was released, smart phones had smallish screens and did basic business stuff:  email, PIM apps, and the like, along with a smattering of other things.  Everyone forgets that the Palm stores sold tens of thousands of apps long before the Apple App Store, though, so the precedent for a device that was "so much more" was set long before Apple did its thing.  That said, the iPhone is credited with changing everything - so be it.

Enter Google.  Google made a modest little Linux-based open-source operating system called Android. It quietly came out on a single T-Mobile phone, the G1, and that's the way it was until fairly recently.  In the past year, everything has changed again, and it's not Apple's doing this time.

Android has experienced astonishing growth over the past year.  The numbers are all over - just Google them (yes, again, almost pun intended).  With faster growth and a larger installed base than the iPhone, Android has emerged as a power to be reckoned with, and a darned fun "phone" to have.

The point?  If you have an old PalmOS phone, or a Blackberry, or a featurephone (or, yes, even an iPhone that's driving you crazy), and are considering an upgrade, look very seriously at one of the new crop of Android devices.  If you use Google's Gmail or Google Apps or Exchange for "email", Android phones do these things as well as anyone.  For Exchange users, you can get email, contacts, calendar and task sync over the air with Exchange for far less (typically about $23/month less) than comparable service for a Blackberry. 

Don't just go get an iPhone.  They're wonderful devices, but really not very good phones.  Android phones are wonderful devices, and very good phones.  Even some of the most devoted iPhone fans will admit that once the iPhone comes out (probably) on Verizon they'll be switching carriers immediately.  Trouble is, that's probably not going to happen until at least 2012 (when, as we all know from the movie, most of the world will be destroyed anyway).  Plenty of time to experience the yummy goodness of Android, and then go get an iPhone, if you still want to.  Sometimes people go get iPhones because they don't know that there's a viable alternative out there.  There is. 

Don't just go get another Blackberry.  They are great devices.  They changed everything before Apple did.  But they are expensive to run, and if you are not required to use one, or don't need the extra things that they do (and I contend that if you're reading this you probably don't), why pay for them? 

Don't just buy an Android phone, either.  The decision about what "phone" is right for you is as important as (or perhaps these days more important than) the decision about what computer is right for you.  If you're a client of mine (or a relative!), let's discuss it!

Something to think about.

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