August 19, 2008
As the all-important holiday season approaches, the mobile phone market is already heating up. Seemingly everyone wants to know what new products phone makers will stack up against the Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iPhone on shelves this season. Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) foray into the world of wireless devices has had its fits and starts, but the search giant will apparently see its Android operating system launched in at least one phone by year's end.
While the companies involved are making no official commitments, rumors based on "inside sources" point to a long-ago leaked Android phone from Taiwan-based HTC being launched in the fourth quarter with Deutsche Telekom's (NYSE: DT ) T-Mobile USA. The nation's fourth-largest carrier is known for making bold moves to keep up with larger rivals Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) and AT&T (NYSE: T ) , and being the first to put an open software platform on a device would be another feather in its cap.
The proliferation of Android is significant to the wireless industry. Like the iPhone, it has the capability to change how the game is played between device manufacturers, applications developers, and carriers. Historically, those three factions have endured a love-hate relationship -- smiling and shaking hands publicly, but then accusing each other of asserting too much control behind closed doors. For its part, outsider Google hopes to give the industry more alternatives to Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT ) Windows Mobile or proprietary platforms such as Research In Motion's (Nasdaq: RIMM ) BlackBerry line.
For investors, the mix of new entrants into the mobile market makes for an interesting landscape of opportunities. Success in proprietary platforms such as the BlackBerry has made RIM investors immense profits, but Google's Android holds the promise of hastening the growth in the overall market for wireless applications and services. Whether this new wireless order will also bring significant new advertising revenue to the online juggernaut remains far from certain.
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