Good Morning Silicon Valley is spot on. It’s not about phones, it’s about philosophies.
It comes down to closed vs. open. In political terms, the Apple environment is like Singapore, where some freedoms may be ceded in favor of providing a pleasant and orderly experience, and Google, with its Android platform, is like a loud and messy New England town meeting. Apple has one iPhone, a tightly controlled App Store for third-party programs, and a touchscreen design that favors consumption of iTunes entertainment. The G1 is but the first of many Android-based devices to come, all of which will be served by the wide-open Android Market, and its design, featuring a real keyboard, leans toward typing-oriented functions like mail, messaging and mobile search, not coincidentally all Google strong suits. If you’re already happy in the Apple ecosystem, or with an “it just works (most of the time)” approach to tech in general, and you’re in the smart-phone market, there’s probably not much that Android handset manufacturers can come up with that will tempt you away from the iPhone. If you’re already happy in the Google ecosystem, then the tight integration of Google applications and services and the breadth of third-party development possibilities will make an Android-based phone more appealing. At the core, the iPhone and the Android phones may not really be the direct competitors they’re made out to be, but rather comparable alternatives whose appeal depends mostly on whether your tastes and needs put you in the closed or open camp.
Walt Mossberg’s useful first impressions are here.
Meanwhile, Google has been posting demo videos like this on YouTube.