Here's what the line at a star-studded opening typically looks like in New York City: Throngs of people waiting to get in, checking each other out and trying to look cool while celebrities blow past. Outside the T-Mobile G1 launch party at Skylight Studio, it wasn't much different, except everyone was checking out each other's hand candy?and grousing about the half hour wait to get in.
Inside, the scene was surreal. Crowds of designer-clad trendsetters circulated amid tragically un-hip geeks and the rumpled reporters from the city's media, resulting in a weird?and big?mix of partygoers. In total, 400+ attendees came to the launch, including stars like Jason Biggs, Erika Christensen and Alan Cumming. With such a wide range of tastes to cater to, no wonder the food was so eclectic. They had everything from seared tuna to hotdogs.
But I didn't come to eat, so I pushed my way through the packed room to look for the star of the show: The G1. The large hangar-like space was designed to bring the phone to life, with a photo booth set up on one side and a YouTube "confessional booth" for on-the-spot uploading at the other. On the far end, the words "Android Market" was projected onto the wall, above little stations set up to tout featured apps.
Cutting through the crowd wasn't easy. I kind of felt like Frodo going on an epic journey, but when I reached the back, it was worth it. There, in all its glory, was the precious. I asked model/actor Jasyn Woolley, who was hired to showcase the phones, what his favorite features were. "I love the full QWERTY keyboard and the rollerball. It is so much easier than swiping all over the place." He passed it to me so I could get my own impressions.
The phone wasn't as heavy as I expected. Sure, it was no lightweight gadget, but the rubberized exterior felt surprisingly good. And it didn't feel like it could slide out of my fingers. Still, I thought there was room for improvement. The G1 was pretty thick, and I didn't really dig the thought of using a USB headset for it.
I turned the cell over and over in my hand, listening to the DJ spin tunes and peripherally catching the lights and videos in the room. All the while, I couldn't help but wish that the phone itself was as sexy as the party that was thrown for it.
By now, Jasyn and I were buds, so he let me put the G1 in my pocket to feel what the heft and dimensions would be like on the go. It slid into my jeans nicely and didn't feel like it would fall out, which is great. I looked up to tell my new friend, and that's when I spotted the huge guard behind him, inching closer. He saw me stash the goods and was ready to pounce if I started sprinting for the door.
Yeah, I was tempted, but instead, I gingerly handed the phone back to Jasyn with two hands. Then I backed away slowly, toward the stations that spotlighted featured apps?ShopSavvy, cab4me, BreadCrumbz and EcoRio?along the rear wall.
I wanted good design, and I sure got it from Android and all its goodies. Using Google Maps on the G1, for example, felt like standing inside the streetview itself. When you turn around, the motion sensor tells the map to pan around with you. Pretty cool stuff. And, says Tom Harlin, T-Mo's PR dude, it won't take long before there are tons of new programs. "It's an open market with a user rating system for applications," he said. "The market is going to drive demand, and this is going to grow with the market."
Overall, it was an awesome party, with lots of candy for the hands and the eyes. The Raconteurs were hot, igniting some serious dance jams, and I even got a photo with Biggs. The only downside was that the Google guys weren't there. It would've been cool to chat with Sergey, Eric and Larry on this new idea I had for a Google laptop...