Word is out that T-Mobile looks likely to be the only network on which you’ll be able to buy an Android-based handset in 2008. The HTC Dream, understood to be called the T-Mobile G1, will likely be the first of many ‘G’-type smartphones running Android. Even before the initial platform announcement, Google was being asked to confirm the existence of their “gPhone”; all they would say was that there would be many such handsets.
Branding the handsets gPhone would leave Google (or T-Mobile) open to criticism that they were merely copying Apple’s style of nomenclature. However, by releasing a range of ‘G’ handsets they leave the public to make their own connection and adopt “gPhone”. MarkMonitor – an “enterprise brand protection” company” has bought up MobileG1.com, T-MobileG2.com, T-MobileG3.com, T-MobileG4.com and T-MobileG5.com; a potential conclusion could be that, for the next 6-12 months even, if a customer wants an Android handset they’ll have to turn to T-Mobile.
Although nobody at HTC, Google or the carrier themselves will confirm the upcoming announcement, the signs all seem to point to T-Mobile. Sprint is a signed-up member of the Open Handset Alliance, the group Google formed of parties involved in Android development, but likely lacks the financial backing to spearhead a launch. AT&T have said that they’re interested, but with no commitment, and Verizon have their own “open access” scheme rather than getting on board with Google’s.
That leaves T-Mobile, already with a strong connection to the Android project’s Andy Rubin. Rubin worked with T-Mobile on the Sidekick, a communicator exclusive to the carrier; the first device, the G1, even has the same style of sliding display as the newer versions of the Sidekick. Just as the Sidekick became synonymous with T-Mobile, so could the gPhone.
Finally, back in May at the Android Fireside discussion, Rubin was asked about technology that might support content distribution for Android-based handsets. He described the Android Market, an icon for which could already be spotted on the prototype handsets, which would basically be the equivalent of Apple’s iPhone AppStore.
Fast forward to this week, and word that T-Mobile would be launching an application store delivering software and new services to its customers. It’s a concept it already has delivered and maintained, albeit on a smaller scale, through the multiple generations of Sidekick. T-Mobile is currently ramping up its fledgling 3G network; we’re predicting that the G1 will launch when T-Mobile roll out their 3G capacity nationwide.
Andy Rubin describes the Android Market concept:
Leaked video of HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1: