AT&T announced Jan. 6 that it plans to launch five new Android devices from Dell, HTC and Motorola in the first half of 2010. While T-Mobile and Verizon have made Android-based phones an intrinsic part of their product lineups, AT&T's announcement marks the carrier's first foray into Android devices.
AT&T, which is the exclusive U.S. distributor of the wildly popular Apple iPhone, also said its goal is to lead the industry in smartphone application choices by offering access to all major application stores.
Among the new device offerings planned by AT&T are Dell's first Android smartphone and phones by Motorola and HTC, which will also be based on the Android platform. As with the iPhone, customers will be able to talk on the phones while surfing the Web.
In addition, AT&T also announced "an agreement with Qualcomm to standardize apps development for midrange Quick Messaging Devices using BREW Mobile Platform. These devices are used by ... customers who historically have not had the same convenient access as smartphone customers to the market's hottest apps."
Quick Messaging Devices are lower-priced integrated mobile devices designed with a focus on texting. "They have full QWERTY keyboards, either physical or virtual, and ... full Web browsing capabilities," AT&T said in the Jan 6. news release. "AT&T Chief Marketing Officer David Christopher announced plans to begin rolling out Quick Messaging Devices with BREW Mobile Platform in the second half of the year, so that by year-end 2011, about 90 percent of AT&T's devices in this segment are planned to be based on BREW."
The company also said, "Samsung will be [AT&T's] first device maker to launch a Quick Messaging Device featuring BREW Mobile Platform. HTC, LG and Pantech also are building devices featuring BREW Mobile Platform for planned availability in late 2010 or early 2011." According to AT&T, "Customers with these devices are more likely to demand apps [and] subscribe to messaging and data plans, and are a large potential market for application developers."
"Applications help consumers realize the full value and benefits of mobile broadband networks, services and devices," Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets, said in a statement. "Today some AT&T customers can take advantage of more than 100,000 apps-but only if they have the right handset. Our goal is to bring more apps to millions more of our customers who want convenient access to the market's hottest apps. At the same time, in the future, we plan to go well beyond mobile devices to spur apps development."
AT&T said it will "preload the corresponding store for each device-giving customers convenient access to thousands of apps optimized for their smartphone." AT&T also said it "added to existing agreements with Nokia for Ovi Store and Microsoft for Windows Marketplace by announcing an agreement for Android Market." The carrier said it "expects to announce more app store agreements in the near future and will offer carrier billing ... for as many stores as possible."
"Today, developers must essentially rebuild apps for different handsets and operating systems, increasing their costs, slowing the pace of innovation and stalling the delivery of mobile apps to customers," Christopher said. "We want to tear down the barriers and make it much easier for developers to reach our customers-and for our customers to access apps. Moving to one platform for this fast-growing segment of devices will help developers reach millions more customers who want easy access to the hottest mobile apps."