In an announcement that has put Microsoft, Research In Motion, Apple and the many other smartphone makers on notice, the follow-up to the T-Mobile G1, the first Android-based device, is coming to store shelves this summer.
Dubbed the myTouch 3G, the device will feature an improved Android operating system, an affordable $199 price tag, and most importantly, it won’t have the slide-out keyboard found in the T-Mobile G1. That should help the device fit more easily into pockets and compete on the same level as major players in the market.
Although the T-Mobile G1 is one of the forgotten competitors in the touch-screen smartphone space, it sold well. As of this writing, T-Mobile has sold 1.5 million G1 units. It’s not a stellar number that would make Apple worry, but it’s a fine showing from a device that’s on one of the least-popular carriers’ networks. Given the success of the G1, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility to expect the myTouch 3G to beat out its predecessor both on features and sales.
If that happens, should RIM and Microsoft be worried? Unlike Palm and Apple, which only sell one smartphone to customers, RIM and Microsoft use their software to sell multiple devices on multiple carriers. It’s a strategy that has helped the BlackBerry and Windows Mobile attract a respectable following in the enterprise. Google, through the Open Handset Alliance and its open-source Android platform, is taking aim at both RIM and Microsoft. It doesn’t expect Android-based phones to sell as well as the iPhone and it doesn’t really care if they don’t. Instead, Google is trying to create an operating system that can be on multiple devices from multiple carriers to help solidify itself as the “go-to” platform in the smartphone market.
It could happen. Recent reports have suggested Dell, Nokia, Motorola, Acer, and a slew of other vendors are seriously considering releasing an Android-based phone. Those companies see Android as an appealing alternative to Windows Mobile devices that simply can’t compete on any level with highly coveted products in the space. For its part, Google contends that more than 20 Android-based smartphones will be offered to customers by the end of 2009. It’s a lofty claim, given it only has one smartphone on store shelves now. But if we consider its software, it’s not such an outlandish hope. If companies are trying to get into the smartphone market to compete with Apple in the consumer side or RIM on the enterprise side, Android is simply the best platform to go with.