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'Android' Unveiled

Mike Musgrove

Well, here it is: The first smartphone powered by Google's new, open source technology called Android.

This morning, executives from T-Mobile USA, Google and mobile phone maker HTC showed off the upcoming device, called G1, at a press event in New York City. Featuring an iPhone-like touchscreen in addition to a slide-out keyboard, the new gadget will be available October 22, at a price tag of $179.

Video demonstrations of the new phone highlighted how the device can use Amazon.com's music service or connect users to their Facebook accounts. Naturally, the device is Google-friendly: There's a button dedicated to online search on the device's keyboard.

The executives didn't mention any other smartphones in their presentation, but made clear that the device can do the same sorts of tricks that Apple's iPhone can do: Photos, music, map services? Check, check, and check. (Perhaps not surprisingly, the device does not connect with Apple's iTunes service.)

Though U.S. consumers are typically cutting edge, said T-Mobile's chief development officer, Cole Brodman, use of mobile Web services in this country is at "a dismal 16 percent."

"What's been lacking is a compelling set of applications and devices," he said.
"We believe that 'open' is going to drive the future of the mobile internet."

That was recurring theme of the news conference: Open standards are the future of the mobile Web. While Apple keeps control over the sort of applications that are posted at its "App Store," any software developer will be able to build and make available software for Android-using devices.

Google was founded on the principles of such open technology standards, said Google's vice president of mobile products, Andy Rubin. "With Android we are bringing some of those strategies to the mobile phone," he said. "We think Android is future proof because it has open-ness built in."

Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin showed up at the end to sing their praises of the new phone and their new technology. Brin said he'd enjoyed tinkering on the phone and had already devised a simple, playful program that lets the user measure the amount of time the device spends in the air if a G1 user tosses it.

But, while there will soon be an Android store online to sell applications, Google's phone-making partners probably wouldn't want to see an application that encourages users to toss the flashy new device in the air, he admitted. So don't expect to be able to download Brin's program anytime soon. "I'm getting some dirty looks," he said.

By Mike Musgrove  |  September 23, 2008; 11:04 AM ET  | Category:  Mike Musgrove
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Can't we get photos?

Posted by: Doker | September 23, 2008 12:51 PM

Can I get one without phone service?

Posted by: PuWeiTa | September 23, 2008 1:07 PM

DC is not a G3 network area according to the T-Mobile map. I'll stick with my blackberry until they upgrade the area network.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 23, 2008 1:13 PM

maybe the price for mobile internet service is the reason it is not used in this country. Add phone and internet access and you are talking about 150/ month...not a small amount!!!

Posted by: moe | September 23, 2008 1:31 PM

What about porting Android to other phones (like other HTCs) which currently have Windows Mobile? Are they planning on having that kind of relationship w/end users or is it always dealing with mobile telephone providers?

Posted by: maffle | September 23, 2008 1:40 PM

US consumers are cutting edge? Are you kidding me? I've lived in Asia and Europe for nearly a decade. Cellphone technology, uptake and resistance to change is pervasive in the US. Come on!

Posted by: in europe | September 23, 2008 1:46 PM

Does the new phone have a camera? Or more importantly a video camera, which the iPhone lacks?

Posted by: Linus Van Pelt | September 23, 2008 2:09 PM

Linux based, Google Android, will have OGG/THEORA mobile playback. Sites like OGGTV can play on the Android, and have a super-cool open-tv mobile platform. The Linux programmers will have a great mobile tool to write programs for, and everyone will benefit.

Posted by: William Lacy | September 23, 2008 2:15 PM

"What's been lacking is a compelling set of applications and devices."

Um, no. What's been lacking is consistent high-quality service, platform standardization and rapid deployment of mobile broadband both in urban cores and further afield.

Posted by: Bobby McObvious | September 23, 2008 3:14 PM

can someone please make the touchscreen blackberry already on the fastest network available.... is that asking too much!!!

Posted by: sam | September 23, 2008 3:44 PM

I have a Razor by Verizon. I have been out of contract since April. It is truly liberating. I was tempted by the iPhone but the long lines and it being sold out quickly dashed the interest. The Android phone looks promising. The Razor is functional and I don't use my phone much. The only thing I'd use the mobile internet for are directions on the fly and restaurant/movie times.

I'll be content to sit on the sidelines as the early adopters bear the headaches of dropped calls, slow internet, and bugs. Once it matures more I'll jump in.

The blackberry is a viable option but if I go the smart phone route I'd rather have a functional browser. That's one area that apple changed the game.

Posted by: Mike | September 23, 2008 3:50 PM

Eh, it's better than most other v1.0 cells. It's a decent first launch as long as it stays recall-free. Now we get to see how long a wait between Android OS updates and how significant they are...

Posted by: Eludium-Q36 | September 23, 2008 3:50 PM

[in reference to Muffle's comment]
At the mobile phone conventions like CTIA and others this summer, Android was shown on a unnamed device that looked scarily similar to the HTC touch Diamond, so there appears to be hope for an HTC android

Posted by: Tim | September 23, 2008 3:57 PM

Nowhere does the cutting edge comment reference cell phones. In case you didn't notice, "in europe," we have historically tended to embrace spiffy toys on this side of the pond first: personal computers, televisions, GPS units... in nearly every category, US consumers have had first crack at making them widespread. Cell phones are just about the only one in which we're hopelessly backward, and that's more a function of crappy infrastructure and lower population density.

"US consumers are cutting edge? Are you kidding me? I've lived in Asia and Europe for nearly a decade. Cellphone technology, uptake and resistance to change is pervasive in the US. Come on!

Posted by: in europe | September 23, 2008 1:46 PM"

Posted by: silver spring | September 23, 2008 4:18 PM

"Though U.S. consumers are typically cutting edge, said T-Mobile's chief development officer, Cole Brodman, use of mobile Web services in this country is at 'a dismal 16 percent.'"

I find nothing shocking in the fact that most Americans still want to look where they're walking, watch where they're driving or simply be fully engaged with the person they're talking to. Or even just be aware of the world immediately around them in general. When that statistic reverses is when we'll need to be worried.

Posted by: treetopflyer | September 23, 2008 4:35 PM


As Olive Oyl said of Bluto, "He's large."

More of a threat to the Blackberry than to the iPhone.


Posted by: WylieD | September 23, 2008 4:40 PM

Great news. I was starting to run low on high-tech crap.

Posted by: Karl | September 23, 2008 4:41 PM

The Google phone still has a ways to go before it catches up with the iPhone. I would wait a year.

Why would I want to carry such a large, clunky thing around?

T-Moblie? Their coverage is so much less than AT&T or Verizon. Why didn't Google go with Verizon?

Posted by: Don | September 23, 2008 5:02 PM

Battery life, tell us about battery life when using 3G. Can I put a spare battery in this thing myself. Total cost of ownership for 1st year? Camera? Video? GPS?

What firms are writing applications for this phone? What kind of applications?

Does it switch between 3G and other networks seamlessly?

Forgive me if I demand facts and details but I am not recommending a new phone to any client without some facts, sir.

Posted by: thw2001 | September 23, 2008 5:04 PM

Looks like another half baked iphone knock-off. Everybody wants to copy Apple. I'll stick with thing thank you very much.

Posted by: NerkTwin | September 23, 2008 5:07 PM

You're just aiding the deception to quote phone prices as simply "$179." Most new phones require a 2 year plan, sometimes with data plans, making the real cost far more substantial.

Posted by: Pilgrim | September 23, 2008 5:12 PM

The picture on the front page looks very much like the layout of the T-Mobile SideKick/ Danger, Inc./ Sharp device that has been around for years. That's fine because I love my SideKick but if it is the same semi-useful service that T-Mobile is famous for, it won't fly

Posted by: Jon | September 23, 2008 5:33 PM

Only 16% of Americans use mobile web b/c the service is more expensive than it's worth.

I don't think the article said specifically that it only works on T-Mobile but that was implied. That's not very "open" of google. Not to mention that fact that T-Mobile has the worst coverage of any of the major networks, which really kills the deal on this phone.

Posted by: ugh | September 23, 2008 5:41 PM

THE ARTICLE DOES NOT TELL US HOW MUCH THE MONTHLY CHARGES ARE FOR THE PHONE SVC AND DOES ONE HAVE TO SIGN A 2 YEAR CONTRACT?
ANYONE KONOWS???

Posted by: william kraal | September 23, 2008 6:08 PM

Android was supposed to solve the fragmentation problem of wireless phones. Instead, it makes the problem worse, as if Symbian, WinMobile, LiMo and iPhone are not enough to burden app developers.

Posted by: SaGe | September 23, 2008 6:11 PM

Has this been cracked to work on a Verizon network yet?

Posted by: Just asking... | September 23, 2008 6:39 PM

I have a Moto Q, and would have jumped on a new phone with with a functional browser a few months ago...

but i downloaded skyfire, and have found it to be great so far... not as good as the iphone because of the q's lack of a touchscreen, but skyfire is great!

Give it a try

Posted by: qwerty | September 23, 2008 6:57 PM

First photo of alien released. Film at 11:00

How about some photos?

Posted by: Duggas | September 23, 2008 8:23 PM

i find that apple has become a greedy corporate monster. google risks becoming the same, but i hope it will continue with the open source platforms.

Posted by: barry kumar | September 23, 2008 8:28 PM

Some of the previous comments show a general lack of technical proficiency. The point of open-source is that isn't limited to one provider or one phone. Although G1 is the only phone that offers Google "software" Android at the moment, any company can make a phone that runs on Android since Android is an operating system. It is ironic that in response to an article about the "cutting-edge" nature of Americans, some individuals seem to have a difficulty grasping the difference between an operating system and a phone. No worries, an operating system has only been around for about 40 years. So in a year or two, when you go pick up your "Google phone" as one reader put it, why don't you also pick up a copy of "An Idiot's Guide to Technology."

Posted by: Anonymous | September 23, 2008 8:40 PM

You don't think the Unix-based OSX variant in the iPhone doesn't have a few tricks up its sleeve that haven't been revealed? All of these companies continue to play catch-up to Apple.

Posted by: DJ Monet | September 23, 2008 8:43 PM

nice post i haave RSS'd you, please update more often

thankyou

Posted by: LydayDraiva | September 30, 2008 6:27 AM

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