I'm just back from breakfast with T-Mobile, Google, Geodelic, and the myTouch 3G in San Francisco. Yes, I still want an HTC Hero, not a myTouch 3G. But, no, I'm not going to hate on T-Mo's new flagship device because of that. While I still have my druthers and preferences, I also have a better idea of where T-Mo is trying to go with this whole Android thing and why a geeked-out blogger's druthers don't have much to do with the American mass market for cell phones.
myTouch 3G is a nice little device. Yeah, it's a bit more plasticky feeling than Hero, or even the G1, has fewer megapixels in its camera and less MHz in its chipset, and lacks a normal headphone jack. But that's okay - at least for most normal people who don't spend all day obsessing about this stuff. See, I live in the weird bubble of phone bloggers, where we constantly bicker about processor speeds and proprietary connectors. Most consumers don't know Android from Symbian and don't care. They come into a store wanting a phone, maybe wanting a certain feature like, "Going online" or maybe having seen a friend's phone and wondering, "Can I get a BlackBerry on T-Mobile?" You laugh, but that's because you're a geeked out fan of phone blogs. You already know what phone you're going to get when it comes out five months from now; most people don't.
What I like about myTouch 3G is that it's lightweight, it fits in my hand way better than G1 does, and I can pay a few extra bucks to get a customized back plate for it so I don't have to slap a PhoneDog sticker on there like Google's rag-tag CEO does with his BlackBerry (Eric, a BlackBerry? Seriously?). I also like that it runs Android, has a capacative touchscreen and a trackball, and ships with Android 1.5 preinstalled, which is a big upgrade from the G1, which shipped with 1.0. Think of it in terms of the average user, not a geek like me - 1.5 is nicer.
I also like that by the time myTouch 3G ships, Geodelic's Sherpa will also be available in the Android Marketplace. Sherpa is a neato location-based app that helps you find a coffee shop, bar, tourist trap or whatever, connects you to user reviews of your destination - sourcing from Yelp! and other Web 2.0 faves - and then helps you plot a route to get there. What I like about Sherpa, at least from what I saw of it, is the friendly icon-driven interface and the speed at which it grabbed information and showed it to me. Seriously, in the time it took me to set my cup of coffee down, pick up a demo myTouch and boot Sherpa, and reach for the coffee, Sherpa was already showing me where I could go get a cup of coffee. Which sounds redundant, I know, but that's the humor ... the point is that Sherpa is fast. Or at least it was in the live demo I tried and the other live demo I got from Geodelic's Head of Biz Dev.
T-Mobile made no bones about the fact that they're going for first time smartphone buyers as much as Android geeks with myTouch 3G. As well they should be - the "newbie" smartphone market promises to be huge over the next six months or so. With its pocketable, customizable form factor, GMail integration, and neato new "Find me coffee and a hotel room" app, myTouch makes a lot of sense as T-Mo's flagship device going forward, and I think they're off to a great start in marketing it. Will it be an "iPhone Killer"? Nah. Will it usher another group of first-time smartphone owners into the Age of Android? Yeah, I think it will.
Now if only it were a little cheaper and had a real headphone jack ...