The first Google-powered phone may hit shelves as early as October and as late as the end of the year — likely in time for the holiday season.
Google’s buzzed-about Android — not a phone but a smartphone platform that operates on a High Tech Computer Corp (HTC) handset — will be available through wireless carrier T-Mobile.
Like other mobile phone manufacturers, HTC imitated iPhone’s modish touchscreen design. It also added a full keyboard for easier typing and texting capabilities, the New York Times reports.
The Android operating system promises to turn phones into personalized devices, running applications and services unique to each user. The system is free to the 30 or so mobile carriers and manufacturers in Google’s Open Handset Alliance. Alliance members Sprint and Qualcomm plan to offer Android phones eventually, but T-Mobile is the only one that will debut a unit this year. (AT&T and Verizon Wireless still have not committed to selling any Android phones so far.)
Carriers benefit from smartphones because revenue stream from data plans is higher than simple voice plans. They can also create and sell their own mobile applications, though Android’s availability to third-party application developers (like the iPhone) may prove to be too much competition.