EVOlution

Despite being overcast, it was unusually bright last Friday at 5:45 a.m. I should say that my outlook was also bright. Third in line outside the Sprint store, I peered through the glass, anxiously waiting for Xanadu to open its doors. The HTC EVO 4G was just within reach.

Excited customers passed the time by punching the buttons on our familiar relics. However, the ephemeron of the moment was not lost on me, as whispers of the iPhone 4 were already circulating (and would officially be announced by Steve Jobs at WWDC three days later).

On the surface, it’s the same old story: NEW, SEXY PHONE RELEASED – BE THE FIRST ON YOUR BLOCK TO GET IT! But there’s more going on here because this phone has the potential to change the smartphone market. The HTC EVO 4G is the first 4G phone that’s commercially available, although Sprint is currently rolling this network out to major cities throughout 2010. While Boston will still have to wait a month or two for the phone, a 400 percent increase in download speeds awaits. Until then, you’re paying a $10 premium per month to access a network that isn’t available yet.

The real story, however, is the emergence of Android, which will continue to gain popularity with the arrival of the EVO. It’s already been announced that more smartphones ran Android than the iPhone OS during Q1 2010.

So what’s the big deal with Android? If you’re unashamedly nestled in the throes of geekdom, or even just a “wannabe-geek” like me, a lot more freedom over your device awaits. If Android develops a faster version of their OS, you can install it on the phone yourself, instead of waiting impatiently for the carrier to provide an update.

It’s this kind of flexibility that piques my curiosity in a similar way that Web 2.0 brought a greater degree of personalization and user-centered design. This ability to freely personalize your phone’s operating system might well represent the “Smartphone 2.0” era entering the mainstream. Android’s rise, combined with the super-slick design of the EVO, was just the alluring combination that prompted me to toss my old phone into the technological dust pile.

I’m not a developer. There are giant communities of “Fandroids” much more devout than myself and with a greater wealth of technical knowledge. Including my fellow Verbatim bloggers, these Fandroids could all write much more eloquently about the technical advantages of Android over the iPhone OS and Symbian, the world’s most popular smartphone operating system.

So while this gadget-head will continue to be placated by the fancy, new-fangled whizz-bang apps and widgets on my EVO, there inevitably will be a time where I’ll want to shift from the pure aesthetics of the phone and into a new, functional direction. And while I don’t know where that journey will lead, I have the confidence to transition when the time is right and take the path less traveled. And that, according to the wise Robert Frost, made all the difference.