updated 01:00 am EDT, Mon June 23, 2008
Android Makers Struggle
Phone designers creating the first Google Android-based cellphones are seeing crucial delays that will force them to miss an end-of-year target, the Wall Street Journal says. While the heavily discussed launch of a T-Mobile USA-branded phone in late 2008 is still said to be on track, alleged sources tell the paper that Sprint is no longer expected to have its own phone using the Linux-based software in the same period. The carrier has reportedly had to delay the launch until 2009 as it wants to put its own services on the device rather than sell it with Google's default software alone. The company is also considering skipping from 3G to its 4G WiMAX service for a phone, though what this device would involve is uncertain.
Google is also part of the new Clearwire partnership that sees Clearwire, Sprint, and multiple cable companies working together to create a national WiMAX network.
China's largest nationwide carrier, China Mobile, is also claimed to be suffering delay similar to Sprint's and won't launch its own phone until early 2009. Branded apps and services are also a problem for the provider, though it's also believed to be set back by translating Android's interface language into Mandarin.
The delays, though unconfirmed by either Google or the carriers, would soften the impact of Android on the cellphone market and give rivals such as fellow California mobile developer Apple extra lead time on cornering the smartphone market; the iPhone 3G has several features that are known to be essential to some Android phone models, including a touchscreen, a complete HTML web browser, and integrated Google Maps support. Both Apple and Google have promoted easier mobile app development, while Google has shown hints that it may follow the direction taken with the iPhone and launch a self-run app store that would encourage developers with guaranteed customer access.