Vodafone Unveils Android’s Second Phone

Vodafone Android Magic at GSMA Mobile World Congress
Vodafone’s Android-based HTC Magic phone, introduced this week at GSMA Mobile World Congress
Click on the graphic to enlarge.
Source: Vodefone

Vodafone today unveiled the world’s second smartphone powered by Android, the open source mobile operating system developed through the Google-led Open Handset Alliance.

The HTC Magic, which Vodafone (NYSE: VOD) showed off at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, will land in several European markets in spring. It follows last year’s splashy U.S. debut of T-Mobile’s G1 Android phone, also manufactured by HTC.

Vodafone, the world’s largest mobile carrier, joined the Open Handset Alliance in December, along with 13 other companies, including Sony Ericsson, Toshiba and Garmin.

“Following our joining of the Open Handset Alliance, we have worked very closely with HTC to bring this cool new phone to the market,” Patrick Chomet, Vodafone’s global director of terminals, said in a statement.

Many of the features found in the Magic resemble T-Mobile’s G1, which made its way into the market last year.

Unlike the G1, the new phone does not have a separate keyboard, and instead uses a touchscreen. The Magic also has more memory and a bigger battery than the G1.

Samsung, Motorola and LG have all signaled their interest in developing an Android device. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said recently he’d like to see an Android phone run on his network, but that the development platform needed to mature.

Vodafone’s new device will be able to tap into the burgeoning crop of third-party applications for Android phones, which Google just expanded last Friday with the introduction of a storefront for paid apps, similar to Apple’s app store for the iPhone.

“The announcement of the HTC Magic is an important step for Android and the Open Handset Alliance,” Andy Rubin, Google’s senior director of mobile platforms, said in a statement. “With it, Vodafone is opening up the mobile Web for consumers across Europe and giving more third-party developers a platform on which they can build the next wave of killer applications.”

The GPS-enabled device is compatible with Google Maps and Google StreetView and features a variety of e-mail clients, including Google’s GMail. It also supports Google’s IM service, Google Talk.

[cob:Special_Report]Customers will be able to pre-order the phone through Vodafone’s local Web sites in Europe.

The company did not announce pricing details or availability dates, though its U.K. site is asking customers to pre-register for more information about the phone, and promising arrival in April.

In Britain, France, Germany and Spain, the Magic will be exclusive to Vodafone. It will be available on a non-exclusive basis in Italy.

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