updated 10:15 am EDT, Thu May 28, 2009
20 Android Phones in 2009
Google's Mobile Platforms senior director Andy Rubin late yesterday said that the number of Android phones on the market would swell dramatically in 2009. While there are just two official phones today, the T-Mobile G1 (HTC Dream) and the HTC Magic, Rubin anticipates between 18 and 20 phones shipping by the end of the year. He doesn't detail the phones for the New York Times but expects most of them to be European, as North American carriers and cellphone producers are more likely to customize the OS than others. Rogers' upcoming HTC Dream and Magic releases, for example, have links to the Canadian company's services.
The official additionally explained Google's approach to licensing Android, which is free but puts different conditions on what devices can include depending on the level of branding. A completely unfettered version only allows apps that don't specifically use Google services; another adds the Google apps but requires a distribution agreement. A third version gets Google branding but also requires that developers not restrict either the apps or the Android Market, even if third-party software does something objectionable but legal.
Of the upcoming phones, the majority at 12 to 14 will use the mid-tier option while the remaining 5 to 6 will use the full Google-branded hardware.
The expansion of Android's presence promises to significantly increase competition for key rivals like Apple and RIM. Both of these have had the advantage of relatively few Android phones on the market and often on separate carriers. In the US, most Android phones are still expected to head to T-Mobile, but AT&T was recently confirmed to be getting the HTC Lancaster late this year.