RealTime IT News

Will Google's Android Phone Be Late?

Google Android
Google Android prototype by NEC.
Source: Reuters

Mobile phones under development by Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and its partners face slipping delivery schedules, with the first phones not likely to arrive until late 2008, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

Google had said eight months ago that the first phones to be built under the Android umbrella would come out in the second half of 2008, and commitments from various handset makers and carriers appear to support this initial commitment.

Last November Google introduced its highly anticipated Android software for mobile phones in a move it promised could help the cell phone industry make the Internet work as smoothly on phones as it does on computers.

The Journal story said the first phones were unlikely to appear until the fourth quarter, making any impact on the global mobile phone market from Android-based phones unlikely to be felt until 2009 at the earliest.

Last month, Taiwanese handset maker High Tech Computer, known as HTC, said it was on track to launch the first Android cell phone by the end of 2008, ahead of rivals. Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile U.S.A. expects to deliver an Android-powered phone in the fourth quarter, but Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S) will not be able to, a person familiar with the matter told the Journal.

Amid a down day of trading for many Internet stocks, shares of Internet leader Google edged up $2.62, or 0.5 percent, to $549.05 in NASDAQ trading on Monday.

"We remain on schedule to deliver the first Android-based handset in the second half of 2008," Google spokesman Barry Schnitt told Reuters. "We're very excited to see the momentum continuing to build behind the Android platform among carriers, handset manufacturers, developers and consumers."

Android counts more than 30 partners from across the mobile phone industry. China Mobile, the world's largest wireless carrier with nearly 400 million accounts, likely will have its launch delayed until late 2008 or early 2009 due to Chinese translation problems, the Journal reported.

Android has not won broad support from big mobile-software developers, and some said it is hard to develop programs while Google makes changes as it finishes its own software, according to the Journal.

Managing the software development while giving partners the opportunity to lobby for new features takes time. The Journal quoted Google's director of mobile platforms, Andy Rubin, as saying, "This is where the pain happens ... We are very, very close."