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Tuesday, 04 November 2008 11:51

HTC and Google making waves with Android

Despite an economic downturn and lower Q3 results for mobile phone sales, HTC’s Peter Chou says he’ll sell more than 600,000 T-Mobile Android G1 gPhones this year alone, outdoing initial expectations.

An interview in the San Jose Mercury News with High Tech Computer’s (HTC) CEO, Peter Chou, outlines just how far the Taiwanese mobile phone manufacturer has come over the past few years.

For years, HTC manufactured phones that other companies slapped their brand name onto, but just as a number of Asian manufacturing giants have established their brands as global behemoths, so too has HTC emerged from the realms of rebadgery.

HTC isn’t resting on its laurels, however – photos of the HTC Touch HD over at CNET show that HTC is pushing the boundaries, bringing high definition screens to handheld devices as smartphones mature into true handheld multimedia computers.

Although today’s devices are often claimed to only be as powerful as computers from a few years ago, 2009 and beyond will clearly see an even faster evolution, with Intel’s MID (mobile Internet device) chips set to blossom and help deliver longer battery life and ever better handheld experiences.

Already phones such as Nokia’s N-Series and select Windows Mobile devices can be easily connected to an external screen and Bluetooth keyboard. How long will it be before these video outputs progress beyond composite to HDMI?

Battery life is always a concern, as is heat, but the quest to improve battery life and create ever more efficient technology – at ever cheaper prices – shows no signs of slowing down, even though the world is currently going through an “economic crisis”.

Google’s Android platform has certainly made waves in the smartphone world, and while the impact hasn’t been as great as the iPhone, companies like Motorola are dumping the Symbian UIQ operating system and will exclusively focus on Windows Mobile and Google’s Android.

Android is also attracting developers big and small, with Electronic Arts set to bring Monopoly and Bejeweled to the Android platform this month, and more games are on the way.

Continued on page 2.

Developers on Android are also free to develop what they like, without the restrictions that Apple is placing on the iPhone development process.

Given that the G1 gPhone has only been out for a few weeks, truly innovative apps are yet to appear, but as the G1 and its successors roll out across the world next year, the potential is clearly there to seriously challenge Apple, Microsoft and Nokia for the smartphone crown.

Microsoft is busily working away on Windows Mobile 7, but it looks like upcoming Windows Mobile phones will be based on WM 6.5.

This was first previewed back in February this year, when the Sony Xperia was being reported as coming with the OS.

ZDNet in the US also reported late last month that Windows Mobile 6.5 will come before Windows 7 hits.

The world is also wondering what plans Apple has for any iPhone OS 3.0 and is no doubt watching the Android and Windows Mobile developments carefully, even as reports quote an analyst from Friedman, Billings Ramsey & Co predicts Apple cutting iPhone product by 40% in the current quarter.

The G1 gPhone is but the first of many Google Android phones to come, and for brave souls wishing to buy one and use it in Australia, eBay sellers already have them for sale.

I personally look forward to Android making an official appearance in Australia, and am keen to see how Motorola handles the OS, and whether Android can help to restore some of Motorola’s lost shine.

But even more so, I look forward to smartphones that can faultlessly project an image onto a wall, turn speech into text even when walking through a noisy street, come pre-loaded with a terabyte of flash storage the size of a postage stamp, and have super-high-speed broadband anywhere, able to replace my desktop, notebook and netbook forever.

Yes, today’s BlackBerries, iPhones, WM phones and the Android can easily replace a notebook when travelling, and while “real” computer-based work still requires a real computer, the gap is narrowing faster than ever.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.



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