RealTime IT News

Android's Second Act, G2 Rumors Heat Up

Details of the rumored next-generation T-Mobile G2 phone have started to pop up on the Web. T-Mobile currently offers the G1, based on the Android operating system, an effort driven by Google and partners in the Open Handset Alliance.

The G2 will be thinner and not include the pull out keyboard of the original G1, according to Gizmodo, which published what it said were "spy photos" of the alleged, slick-looking device. Gizmodo also quoted an unnamed source as saying the device is due for release this May. The T-Mobile G2 will also sport a 3.2 megapixel camera and maintains an interface similar to the current G1.

The news comes at a time of red hot competition in the smart phone market led by Apple's hot-selling iPhone and unprecedented download of applications for the device. Apple said there have been over 500 million downloads at its App Store for the iPhone.

A Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) spokesperson said the company had no comment on when the G2 might be available or its specifications. "'When will we see the next Android device?' has become the million dollar question!" she said in an e-mail sent to InternetNews.com. "Google doesn't comment on rumor or speculation, and we don't have anything to announce at this time." T-Mobile also declined to comment on what it similarly called rumor and speculation.

Whenever it's released, the G2 will face new competition. The big news at the recent Consumer Electronics Show was Palm's Pre, a new generation of mobile device from the former market leader. The Pre is still in development, but its innovative interface tailored for the Web garnered plenty of interest.

"Palm's been missing in action for so long, I was surprised it had something so interesting to show at CES," Maribel Lopez, analyst with Lopez Research, told InternetNews.com. "This is a critical time for Google and the G1 because now there's revived interest in Palm, along with Apple among developers."

Lopez said she thinks the G1 has time to establish itself, but its backers need to meet their goal of branching out to multiple carriers and broader sales. Otherwise, developers will look elsewhere.

"There are so many mobile platforms out there now and the G1 hasn't achieved big numbers. I'm not discounting them, because they've done well with things like search and mapping, which are critical applications for the device, but right now developers are thinking about the Pre," she said.

Analyst Jack Gold said he expects anywhere from six to 12 Android-based devices to ship by the end of the year from multiple manufacturers including HTC which makes the current G1 for T-Mobile. But he says the economic crisis is slowing development. "Right now, most can't afford to put something out there that isn't going to sell well right away," Gold, president of J. Gold Associates," told InternetNews.com.

As for the upcoming G2, if the photos are accurate, Lopez thinks the lack of a physical keyboard, might not be a negative. The iPhone relies on a virtual or onscreen keyboard using the touch sensitive display. "I'm using a device now that has both physical and onscreen keyboard and the touch screen is much better. It's hard to get both of them right in one device," she said.