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Update: Google Says Android On Track, Despite Reports

Google says its plans for the Android mobile device platform are still on track, despite recent reports that say otherwise.

Google platform

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Google Android, which initially was expected to be available on myriad devices come the second quarter, has hit snags as development has been stunted, making it likely that devices and applications from many of Android's more than 30 partners won't see the light of day until at least the fourth quarter of this year and into next year.

Google, however, said Android remains on schedule.

"We remain on schedule to deliver the first Android-based handset in the second half of 2008, and we're very excited to see the momentum continuing to build behind the Android platform among carriers, handset manufacturers, developers and consumers," said Lauren Birnbaum, a member of Google's corporate communications team, in an e-mail to ChannelWeb Monday.

The Journal reported that the Android setback is partially due to the fact that many of the wireless carriers and device manufacturers making devices for the Google Android platform have been struggling to hit deadlines.

T-Mobile has said it has plans to have an Android-powered phone in the fourth quarter. Sprint, however, won't be able to hit the second half of this year due to the carrier wanting to develop its own branded services on Android, rather than just carry a device with Google features already built in. In addition, shifts among the executive ranks at Sprint may also be contributing to the holdup. Unnamed sources told the Journal that Sprint is considering scrapping its Android device plans for its current 3G network and may focus on developing an Android-based device for the faster 4G network it is working on with a host of partners, including Google.

Elsewhere, China Mobile has said its Android launch will be on hold until either late this year or early in 2009. Quoting insiders, the Journal said China Mobile is hitting roadblocks in translating Android software from Roman characters into Chinese and is having trouble merging its own branded data services onto the Android platform.

The Google Android delays come roughly a month after the I/O Conference during which Google said Android-based devices would be ready by the second quarter of this year. At the conference, Google demonstrated an Android device, a 3G HSDPA device based on a Qualcomm processor with a Synaptics touch screen, 128 MB of RAM and 256 MB of flash memory.

Along with hitting development delays, Google and Android have also come under fire from mobile software developers that claim it's difficult to develop programs for the devices. Google, for its part, continues to make finishing touches on the underlying software. The Journal also reported that managing software development and giving the 30-plus Android partners, dubbed the Open Handset Alliance, the opportunity to push for new features is taking more time than expected.

"This is where the pain happens," Google's director of mobile platforms, Andy Rubin, told the Journal. "We are very, very close."

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