Google, T-Mobile set to unveil Dream phone*
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UPDATED 7:50 A.M.: T-Mobile said this morning that the phone, officially called the G1, will go on sale in the U.S. on Oct. 22, and it will cost $20 less than expected: $179 with a two-year service plan. A previous version of this post said it would cost $199.
The phone, pictured below, will go on sale in Britain in November and other European countries the first quarter of 2009. We’ll have more details in a new post soon.
... Apple’s iPhone and Research in Motion’s BlackBerry, including a large touch screen. Unlike the iPhone, it will have a keyboard.
Expectations for the Dream phone are high, said Roger Entner, telecommunications analyst at Nielsen IAG. That said, it’s not expected to make the same kind of splash as the iPhone. Instead, Google is aiming more for a sea change in an industry that has resisted them.
To that end, Google has invested heavily in Android, which it announced last November. It entered a spectrum auction to put pressure on the wireless industry to be more open to different devices and services. And Google also has recruited independent software developers to create free applications that you can download from the Android Market.
Despite its money and cachet, Google faces some stiff challenges. It created a coalition called the Open Handset Alliance, which includes U.S. carriers such as Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile. But the LiMo Foundation, a consortium of industry players, is also making free Linux software to run on mobile phones. In May, Verizon Wireless said it would use the LiMo software, although it did not rule out using Android. AT&T has not made a decision. Google has another rival in Symbian, which Nokia said it would buy in June, to make such mobile operating system software available free.
Google is hoping the Dream will sell briskly and encourage more device manufacturers and carriers to develop Android-powered phones. Sprint and China Mobile were supposed to launch Android phones in coming months but hit delays. The promises of a cut of Google-like riches may also entice them. The wireless industry has long sought a way to lure advertising online. It hopes someday to target advertising to a cellphone user’s location.
Analysts say that changing the entrenched wireless industry is a monumental task. Historically, the industry has kept tight control over how devices are designed and what data services are available. Carriers were slow to work with Internet companies, in hopes of cornering the market on search and other services themselves, analysts say. But Google, Yahoo and others proved too formidable, said Forrester Research’s Charles Golvin.
‘The carriers realized, ‘We had better figure out a way to work with these guys.’ They have done so in halting steps so far,’ Golvin said.
Although Google has played a key role by pressing the industry to open up, the iPhone was the true catalyst. The Apple gadget stormed the wireless industry, creating demand for data services and new applications, said Omar Hamoui, chief executive of mobile advertising start-up AdMob. ‘We have found that as devices have progressed more toward openness, adoption is skyrocketing,’ he said.
IPhone users have downloaded applications from the applications store by the thousands.
‘Consumers have benefited tremendously from the iPhone’s introduction,’ said Ford Cavallari, a partner with Monitor Group, a consulting firm. ‘In making this effort, Google is going to make it an even better marketplace.’
Chand, the Rutberg analyst, credits both Google and Apple with shaking up the wireless industry, spurring innovation and more choices for consumers, who ‘have a lot to thank Google for,’ he said.
-- Jessica Guynn
Top, G1 phone. Credit: T-Mobile
Bottom, Open Handset Alliance logo. Credit: Danny Sullivan via Flickr