Google Phone Gallery: Marketing Ploy?

Google launched its Google Phone Gallery yesterday, highlighting various Android phones from Motorola, HTC, and Samsung, listing their specs, and inviting users to compare devices. Since when did Google become like Amazon.com?

The news, which appeared on the Google Mobile Blog, includes Android Market, Google search, and other mobile services such as Gmail, Google Maps, and YouTube. While Ben Serridge, product manager for Android, wrote that it was easier for users to compare that way, it may also be a way to discriminate against devices without these tools.

Most notably absent is the Samsung Fascinate, an Android phone that uses the Bing search engine. Also out of luck would be AT&T's Motorola Backflip, which uses Yahoo.

In an e-mail exchange, a Google spokesman said, "I can't comment on specific devices but if a device does not have Google Search, Android Market and other Google mobile services it would not be listed on the site."

While some of the phones featured are chosen for a reason, others appear to be afterthoughts that will be corrected in time, but the Google Phone Gallery (at google.com/phone) is a piece of visual and informational marketing we may see more of in the future. Here's why the phone gallery is important.

1. It's a Sign of Android Saturation

The Google Phone Gallery shows 22 phones of different price ranges and features for all kinds of users, from corporate titans to tweens. It's a marked difference from Apple, RIM, or Palm, whose offerings are meager in comparison (especially when you know several still aren't on the list.). More than anything, it shows users that you can no longer ignore the Android OS, because it's taking over.

2. It Shows the Variety of Android Handsets

People want to figure out the best Android phone to buy, and with so much choice, they need help. Business owners and consumers comb reviews, compare specs, and comparison shop online. Here, it's not a question of buying an Android handset, it's a question of which one. Google's new phone gallery is just another source of information because there's a demand for it.

3. It Ties Google to the Android Platform

There might be a few people out there who don't know that Google's responsible for the Android platform, but maybe now the two will be tied together in the public's mind. While previously only a site for the Nexus One, Google's gallery is now diverse and plentiful. Google's Android OS has come a long way, and its various products have only increased demand and respect for the platform.

The Google Phone Gallery is not complete yet, but will be updated on a regular basis to keep up with the changing mobile market. I would have liked to see some starred consumer reviews, but ratings might defeat the purpose for Google of marketing its wares without judgment or negativity.

It's a testament to Google's power that it can easily provide a consumer information site as well as the world's leading search engine. Will this help business owners or consumers trying to find the right phone for them? It won't do more for consumers than provide more reviews of products online, but it will help Google much more.

Reach or follow Barbara E. Hernandez on Twitter: @bhern.

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