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T-Mobile captures Android buzz

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Trailing U.S. mobile leaders AT&T and Verizon, T-Mobile today tied a good part of its 3G fortunes to Google and its new Android operating system, launching the first commercial phone built on the new OS and application platform.

The new T-Mobile G1 phone -- built by HTC, running on T-Mobile’s network and heavily pre-loaded with Google applications -- will be widely available on Oct. 22, though existing T-Mobile customers can pre-order it starting today. It will hit the U.K. in November and the rest of Europe in the first quarter of 2009. That phone will cost $179, a subsidized price with two-year voice and data contract that locks it to the T-Mobile network. A data contract with limited Web browsing and messaging will cost $25; unlimited data services will cost $35.

T-Mobile, which just announced plans to roll out 3G to 22 markets by next month, is banking on the new device and a close relationship with Internet giant Google to drive mobile data usage and new customer growth.

“It is certainly the strongest consumer smartphone offering we’ve seen since the iPhone,” said Ross Rubin, analyst with NPD Group. “The key part of the message behind this device is the open development that Google is promoting, contrasting with the gate-keeping Apple has done with the iPhone.”

Indeed, despite a strong launch, Apple has been hit with recent criticism that it is keeping too tight of a rein on its device and App Store, including not allowing applications that would compete with its own business.

Acknowledging limited use of the mobile Internet in the U.S., especially on its existing 2G network, Cole Brodman, chief technology and innovation officer for T-Mobile, said that “what’s been lacking is a compelling set of applications and devices that take advantage of these broadband networks.”

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© 2014 Penton Media Inc.

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