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Will HTC Hero hamper myTouch sales?

mytouch.jpg

The T-Mobile myTouch 3G is available for existing subscribers to pre-order, with retail sales kicking off Aug. 5. But news of the launch is already being peppered with speculation that consumers will wait for the HTC Hero to debut later this year.

That could be a problem for T-Mobile. Execs from the fourth-largest carrier said at a press event yesterday that the Hero will be sold by a different telecom.

At issue is whether or not consumers will snap up the myTouch, or wait for the HTC Hero, which is being widely lauded for its user interface, dubbed Sense UI. Analysts are saying the Hero is the first Android handset to deliver on the initial promise of Android -- using the open-source platform to create a truly unique user experience.

Slated for release next month in Europe, the Hero won't arrive here until later this year, and so far the Taiwan-based HTC has yet to release details on pricing and carriers.

Still, T-Mobile is making a good case for the myTouch -- touting its customization features and offering more than a dozen accessories including a music bundle with portable speakers, a "fitness pack" with arm and belt band, a USB cable and snap-on battery extender.

Customers will also be able to design a unique shell using a dedicated Web site. Shells will be able to be customized in a variety of ways, including uploading a personal photo, graphic design, or selecting text, shapes, icons or logos. The final design is custom-printed onto the shell, then shipped.

On the software side, user will get Microsoft Exchange support and the location-based Sherpa application which recommends information such as nearby shops, restaurants and so on based on the user's behavior. In terms of applications, a new T-Mobile App Pack shows offers a bundle of noteworthy apps available for Android devices.

The myTouch, which runs on Android 1.5, also has an onscreen keyboard, video recording, Wi-Fi, EDGE, Bluetooth and GPS. It also naturally integrates with Google Calendars, Gmail, Maps and YouTube.

The handset is priced at $199, though, and it may be a tough sell, considering the iPhone 3G is now $99. Time will tell how the myTouch fares in the summer smartphone smackdown.

(Photo courtesy of T-Mobile)

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