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Google's big developer surprise

SAN FRANCISCO -- Google was expected to show off some new features of its Android mobile development platform here kicking off its [sold out Google I/O conference ](/search/article.php/3822236/Google+Declares+The+Web+Has+Won.htm)and didn't disappoint.

But the biggest surprise came near the end of the keynote when Vic Gondotra, Google's vice president for engineering perhaps outdid even Steve Jobs who famously saves some news for the end of his keynote preceded by the phrase, "One more thing."

Gondotra's one more thing thrilled the 4,000 developers on hand at the Moscone Center here who gave the news sustained applause.

"We're giving away a box with a link to our SDK," Gondotra deadpanned, noting the latest Android software development kit available for download. "And we're including an Android phone, unlocked, with unlimited 3G data and calls for 30 days."

Even at $100 per Android G1 (CORRECTION: HTC Magic) device *, which greatly undervalues the likely retail cost, that's a cool $400,000 expense. Don't look for Apple to match that at its WWDC developer conference next month - but then it doesn't have to!

After the many "Woohoohs" died down, Gondotra had one more tease: If you thought that surprise was big, don't miss tomorrow's keynote."

Stay tuned. I'm betting on a big partner announcement for a new Android-based mobile device.