Second ‘Google phone’ is unveiled

Posted on February 17, 2009. Filed under: Google | Tags: , , , , |

A new phone based on Google’s operating system Android has been unveiled by Vodafone at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

The touchscreen HTC Magic will feature a 3.2 Megapixel camera, Wi-Fi, and GPS, but no slide-out keyboard.

The first “Google phone”, called the G1, was launched in September by HTC and is exclusive to T-mobile.

The Magic will feature new Android firmware, known as “Cupcake”, with changes based on G1 user suggestions.

The Magic will go on sale to Vodafone customers in the UK, Germany, Spain and France, and non-exclusively in Italy.

Android phone users will be able to access the Android Market, a storefront for applications that already boasts 800 offerings.

That number that is sure to grow with more Android handsets on the market.

The Congress was expected to see the launch of a number of Android-based phones from several manufacturers, but the Magic is as yet the only confirmed release.

Speaking at the product launch, Vodafone and HTC representatives stressed that the ethos in producing the Magic was on form as well as function, and that the thinness and “feel in the hand” had been an important consideration.

“We are paying particular attention to style and design; I’m practically obsessed with it. We are extremely careful not to produce products for a niche of geeks, but bring out a proper mass-market consumer device with a lot of attention to design and functionality,” said Patrick Chomet, global director of terminals for Vodafone Group.

“This is the thinnest, nicest Android-powered device on the market.”

The lack of a slide-out handset made for a thinner device, as did a comparatively low-resolution camera and lack of flash, according to Mr Chomet.

“This is all about stylish design for the mass market, it’s a very compact style. We have all this great touch experience, it’s extremely responsive,” said Peter Chou, president and chief executive of HTC.

Carolina Milanesi, research director for mobile devices, Gartner analysts, said: “We are expecting more Android products but this is a good product for Vodafone, for a European audience; the form factor is more in line with European tastes. The platform is more stable and is more a device that exploits the full touch screen.”

If the device hits an anticipated price point of between 99 and 199 euros, Ms Milenesi said it would be pitched at the broader phone market.

“With that range of prices, it’s not aimed at the same audience as, say, the iPhone, it’s looking more at a broader appeal for people.

“It will attract a bigger audience who’s not just hooked on Google but interested in exploiting the usability of the touch interface and exploiting the internet offering as a whole.”

Pricing will be done locally in each territory and Vodafone has opened pre-registration the device.

The HTC Magic has a proprietary headphone jack, and so will not accept many standard headphones.

The device comes pre-loaded with Google applications, such as Maps, Mail, Search and You Tube.

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