If we are to believe reports from the blogosphere, T-Mobile USA is expected to be the first carrier to offer the first Google Android-based mobile phone, which has been approved by the Federal Communications Commission to be released Nov. 10 this year.
The phone, called the Dream, will be made by HTC and could sell for $150 to $200.
Pictures of the Dream have been surfacing online for months now, but a recent video of the phone in action also popped up on pretty much all of the gadget lover's Web sites. I link to it here and the device schematics here.
The 3G-enabled smart phone will have a touch screen but will also slide out to produce a full five-row keyboard.
This form factor is causing some people to already pronounce the device as big and clunky compared to the devices it is expected to compete with, including the rabidly successful Apple iPhone and handhelds from Nokia, Research and Motion, Palm and Microsoft.
With those competitors as the backdrop, Google has some serious challenges in store for the Dream.
Google hopes users will buy the phone and leverage Google software, including Search, Gmail, Docs and other applications. With more users accessing Google's mobile apps, the company will aim to to further make money through mobile online advertising.
But that isn't what's so exciting about Android to me.
VentureBeat's Eric Eldon and Matthaus Krzykowski did some sleuthing and divined that Android will not only be Google's entry point for the mobile Internet, but a ubiquitous operating system that leverages not just the mobile Internet but other communication and media devices, from set-top boxes to MP3 players and more.
Android could be for the Internet what Microsoft hoped Xbox 360 and Xbox Live service would be for entertainment lovers everywhere: TV, gaming and computing platform in one device.
Android has a long, long way to go to get there. Creating a successful mobile operating system for a desktop or a mobile phone is challenging enough without having to make an uber-OS that works on any computing device.
But I like Google's approach to the Web in general and its early, open-source positioning of Android as being open to all is wise.
I tell you this: Google's Android plans won't come to fruition if they don't stop playing hide and seek with its developers, who are not only calling for fair distribution of SDKs, but better disclosure on Android development processes.
Google made a critical error in July when it sent out a new Android SDK to only the 50 winners of the Android Developer Challenge.
But Android programmers have long been asking for more disclosure about Android development processes. Android developer Nicolas Gramlich in June started a petition asking Google to release more updates to the SDK and to offer developers information about the development timeline of the SDK.
Google responded in an Android discussion group forum:
"We appreciate the enthusiasm of our developers and we're excited that you're so passionate about the Android platform. Thanks for taking the time to send this."
This didn't exactly sit well with developers. Wrote one user:
"This is a critical time for Android. I want to support it, but hesitate, when I am given a buggy SDK, and the company supporting the product refuses to provide updates. Google, its time to update the development community, and show some good will."
This won't have a bearing on how well Android phones do once they hit the shelves this fall, but it could eventually bite Google in the future. Aggravate enough programmers and they'll take their coding services to Apple's iPhone or other gadgets.