HTC’s The Only Google Android Game In Town, For Now

Posted on February 22, 2009. Filed under: Google, Mobile World | Tags: , , , , , |

by Andrew R Hickey

All eyes were on the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week with the expectation that device makers would lift the curtain on a host of new Google Android-based devices.

But as mobile heavyweights pack up and leave the show, it appears Taiwanese mobile device maker HTC is the first and only manufacturer to capitalize on the much-talked-about open-source Google Android platform.

Other smartphone builders have paid lip service to Android, promising devices within the year, or even into 2010. Device makers like Huawei, Samsung, Motorola and Sony Ericsson have all made note of their Android plans, but so far, it’s all been just talk.

There was little mention of Android among the myriad devices announced at Mobile World Congress. Most attention was paid to Microsoft’s mobility strategy, which included an updated Windows Mobile operating system, version 6.5, a new cloud-based mobile syncing service and an mobile application store called Marketplace.

HTC, on the other hand, has single-handedly cornered the market with little to no competition, releasing the only true Android-based handhelds into the market. HTC also released a pair of new Windows Mobile devices at Mobile World Congress, but it was its Android-focused smartphones that took center stage.

HTC hit the market with the first Google Android phone, the T-Mobile G1, in October, and hasn’t looked back.

And at the Mobile World Congress this week, HTC continued that momentum, unveiling the HTC Magic, the next Android touch screen in its arsenal. Dubbed “Android No. 2” the Magic takes some if its cues from the G1, though it will not feature the slide-out QWERTY keyboard that set the G1 apart from other touch-screen titans like the Apple iPhone 3G and the BlackBerry Storm.

At the onset, the Magic will only be available through Vodafone, meaning European smartphone users will get a taste of Android in the U.K., Spain, Germany, France and Italy. There are rumors that the HTC Magic will eventually make it to the U.S., but they have not been confirmed.

According to HTC, the Magic, which will be released in the spring, features a 3.2-inch TFT-LCD touch screen with 320 x 480 HVGA resolution. It also features a navigation trackball similar to its U.S. counterpart, an internal GPS antenna, Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity, Wi-Fi and a 3.2-megapixel camera.

Like the G1, the Magic will support most Google Applications, including search, Gmail, Google Talk and Google Maps.

And on Friday, SingTel, Asia’s largest communications provider, said it will begin selling the HTC Dream, another HTC smartphone with Google Android guts, come Feb. 21.

Like previous HTC releases built on Google Android, the SingTel’s Dream will provide access to most Google applications and SingTel will offer subscribers video-on-demand via the handheld, according to Reuters. SingTel also launched the Dream in Australia earlier this month.

HTC’s Android dominance comes as other device makers either delay or are just ramping up their Android plans.

Korean smartphone maker Samsung was expected to unveil a new Android device at Mobile World Congress but reportedly scrapped those plans, delaying the release to later this year as it hammers out talks with various carriers.

Motorola has also been rumored to be focusing heavily on Google Android devices, the fruits of which remain to be seen. Same goes for Sony Ericsson, NTT DoCoMo and Garmin.

Huawei, too, used the Mobile World Congress to tout its upcoming Android handset, but few details were available.

As it stands, HTC has the Android device market locked down, having the only Android devices in production. For the rest jumping on the open-source bandwagon, they’ll have to play catch-up.


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