If Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) takes its iPhone off of AT&T's (NYSE:T) network and goes home, the telecom giant needs a Plan B to keep exploiting the exploding smartphone market.

So why not launch an army of Androids?

AT&T's conundrum
The idea that the iPhone could move elsewhere in the future is not as crazy as it sounds. According to Verizon (NYSE:VZ) CEO Ivan Seidenberg, Apple went with AT&T for technical reasons: Its robust GSM network matched up with the dominant technology in Europe and Asia, so designing the iPhone on that platform created a very large global market.

But the upcoming 4G refresh opens up a whole new round of bidding between the nation's largest networks. Armed with the bandwidth that's freed up when our TV signals go all-digital, according to the results of that famed bandwidth auction of 2008, Verizon and AT&T will both support standardized, turbocharged data connections. This time, it's a fair fight. The 4G iPhone could go either way.

Plan B from outer space
So Ma Bell needs to prepare for the worst, just in case the hottest consumer gadget this side of the paper clip moves out in a year or two. Enter Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and its audacious upstart of a smartphone platform. Engadget reports that AT&T plans to launch its first HTC-built Android this summer with an AT&T-branded user interface and a slick slide-and-touch handset.

Unlike Apple, which likes to keep the iPhone close to the vest with a limited number of models and no third-party licensing, the Android platform was designed to go forth and multiply. A Motorola (NYSE:MOT) model is coming to AT&T this fall, and Samsung shouldn't be far behind.

What it all boils down to
Android won't kill the iPhone, of course -- there's plenty of room for two successful smartphone systems. Don't forget that Google CEO Eric Schmidt sits of Apple's board of directors, which means a killshot against the iPhone would run against Schmidt's fiduciary duties in Cupertino. And since Steve Jobs won't let every wireless carrier sell his precious design, you have to assume that Motorola, HTC, and others will sell millions of Android phones for networks not anointed by the Turtlenecked One.

And Google gets what it wanted all along -- a full-service browser and speedy network connection on millions of cellphone. You'll never be far from a search window again.

Further Foolishness:

Google is aMotley Fool Rule Breakersrecommendation. Apple is aMotley Fool Stock Advisorpick. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Google (and an HTC cellphone), but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings or a concise bio if you like. The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.