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Archive for Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Google phone makes debut: T-Mobile to begin selling it Oct. 22

September 24, 2008

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— T-Mobile USA unveiled on Tuesday the first Google-powered handset, a stylish device that mimics many of the iPhone's features and adds a few new wrinkles.

The G1 smart phone, produced by Taiwanese manufacturer HTC, features a touch screen and a fold out keyboard. It also incorporates WiFi connectivity, works internationally and offers innovative features such as a scanner that lets consumers read product bar codes and compare prices online.

The device will become available through T-Mobile in the United States beginning Oct. 22 for a price of $179 with a two-year voice and data contract. Monthly plans start at $65 a month.

The cost of the device is $20 less than the iPhone, part of an effort by T-Mobile to lure customers and lock them into long-term plans. Cole Brodman, chief technology officer for T-Mobile, said that the G1 "cost quite a bit more" than what the company is charging.

The G1 is the first "Google phone" to hit the market since the Mountain View, Calif.-based Google Inc. announced an initiative last year to develop an open platform for wireless devices that could spur development of new applications.

T-Mobile was the only U.S. wireless carrier to sign on to the initiative, which included several device makers and other high-tech players.

"We really believe 'open' is going to drive the future of the mobile Internet," said Brodman said during a press conference in New York on Tuesday.

The device resembles designs leaked across the Internet over the last few months. Originally known as the HTC Dream, the G1 features a touch-screen interface made popular by Apple Inc. Yet the handset also opens to reveal a full keyboard similar to the BlackBerry line from Research In Motion Ltd.

The G1 also features other services from the search giant, such as Google Maps StreetView and YouTube. It also has support for multiple e-mail programs as well as instant messaging. In addition, it features a new mobile music player developed by Amazon.com Inc. that can access the company's digital-music store.

"With Android, we've opened the mobile Web not only for millions of users, but also to mobilize the developer community that understands the next most important platform in the world rests in the palm of our hand," said Andy Rubin, Google's senior director of mobile platforms, in a statement.

For now, however, the G1 doesn't connect to Microsoft's Exchange program that handles email service for many business customers. Executives said they expect third-party developers to come up with an application in the near future that would allow Exchange to work on the device.

Shares of Google traded more than 1 percent higher at late morning.

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