According to a Wall Street Journal report late Wednesday, PC manufacturer Dell is getting ready to launch a smartphone running Google's Android platform. While this is big news for Dell, which is using the device to make its debut into the U.S. cell phone market, it also adds to Android's momentum in the same field.
Crediting "people briefed on the plans", the report also states that the phone, which is expected in early 2010, will be released on the AT&T Wireless network. This is significant for two reasons.
First, along with the announcement earlier this week regarding a partnership between Verizon Wireless and Google, this new phone will signify the fourth major U.S. carrier with at least one Android device. With each entry into a new wireless network, Google has the opportunity to vastly expand its market share and customer base. This, in turn, will make the platform even more attractive to third-party developers, who are already enamored with the open-source format.
The second thing worth noting is that the new phone is expected to have a touch screen instead of a keyboard. While not a technological breakthrough anymore, an AT&T release would put it head-to-head with Apple's iPhone, which also calls AT&T home. Recently, AT&T made an about-face regarding its policy of allowing VoIP applications on the iPhone to use its 3G network, presumably in response to an FCC investigation triggered by Apple's denial to allow the Google Voice application into the iPhone App Store. One has to wonder, though, if it was also partly due to anticipation of the new Android device.
While the report goes on to say that Dell is in discussions to bring the phone to other U.S. carriers as well, the AT&T deal signifies another big leap for Google, as it rather successfully tries to gain a foothold in the market.
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