Checking in on T-Mobile's G1

Much of the smartphone news this week has centered on Nokia's just-announced N97, a touchscreen device that some are calling the "Facebook Phone." And before that, the gadget world was abuzz about the BlackBerry Storm, whose clickable touchscreen wowed some reviewers but made others go "huh?" But T-Mobile's G1 – the much-anticipated iPhone challenger and so-called "Google Phone" – popped up on the radar again today with a few notable items.

Roaming woes

A reader of gadget site Gizmodo alleges that his G1's data roaming bill rang up at $102.85 after a trip to Europe – even though data roaming, data sync, and 3G were turned off. This isn't the first time international travel with a smartphone has made headlines – one iPhone owner racked up more than $4,000 in charges on a trip to Europe – but it's the first case we've heard of where the owner was still stuck with a bill after trying to avoid it.

Price drop

T-Mobile has lowered the minimum rate plan for UK subscribers who want to take the phone home without paying anything up-front. Previously £40, the minimum monthly contract is now £30. Asked why the drop came just over a month after the phone's Oct. 30 release, the company said it was in order to "make the pricing more competitive in light of recent device launches." Apple did something similar following the original iPhone's release, dropping the device's price $200 10 weeks after its launch.

Price scanning problems?

One of the gee-whiz promises of the Internet-enabled smartphone revolution has been on-the-fly price comparisons. A user takes their phone shopping, using the built-in camera to scan barcodes and compare in-store prices to those available online and in other local stores. But, penny-pinchers beware – some stores aren't taking too kindly to the high-tech undercutting.

As ReadWriteWeb reported, someone using G1's ShopSavvy app in a Michigan Target was asked to stop. Target's corporate office said they had no such policy on scanning barcodes, and that they weren't aware that such a product existed.

ReadWriteWeb compares stores that would ban barcode scanning to the music and movie industries' attempts to quash piracy, and offers a different solution.

Instead of going a route destined for failure and trying to shut down barcode scanning altogether, retailers could choose to embrace the trend. They could offer easy-to-find barcodes on their promotional items with signage encouraging customers to compare the price instantly with other stores in the area. They could make barcode scanning the new advertising circular.
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