Just days before T-Mobile is set to officially start offering the Google Android-based G1, Motorola is getting in on the Android craze, discussing plans to have a smartphone based on the open-source Linux operating system by the middle of next year.
Citing Motorola insiders, BusinessWeek.com said Motorola's engineers are working on an Android handset geared toward users of social networking tools like MySpace and Facebook. The device will let users update and manage their social networking sites from the device, a feature that has become popular on handsets.
Motorola's Android device is expected to feature a touch screen similar to the Apple iPhone, T-Mobile G1 or the recently announced BlackBerry Storm from Research In Motion. Motorola's yet-to-be-named Android device is also expected to feature a G1-style physical slide-out QWERTY keyboard.
While Motorola has declined to specify its plans, it issued a statement saying, "We're excited about the innovation possibilities on Android and look forward to delivering great products in partnership with Google," BusinessWeek.com reported, indicating that Motorola has been showing wireless carriers spec sheets and images of the device, which is expected to hit the U.S. market in the second quarter of 2009.
Word of Motorola's first Android-based device comes just weeks after reports surfaced noting that the Schaumburg, Ill.-based handset maker is trumping up its Android development team by assembling a group of up to 350 Android developers to reinvigorate its struggling mobile device business. The added developers will bulk up Motorola's Android team from the 50 members it has today.
Motorola's Android device will pit it head-to-head against other touch-screen titans that have recently stormed the market in attempts to dethrone Apple's 3G iPhone from its spot at the top. As a sort of prelude, Motorola last week released its first-ever touch-screen phone, the Motorola Krave, which launched Oct. 14 on Verizon Wireless.