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T-Mobile launching first Google-powered phone

Likely to feature touch screen

By PETER SVENSSON

AP Technology Writer

NEW YORK — Google Inc.’s announcement last year that it would give away software that could run cell phones was met by dizzy accolades from analysts who thought it would let the search engine company conquer the world of mobile advertising.

Today, a fruit of that announcement is set to drop: T-Mobile USA will reveal the first phone to use Android, Google’s software platform, at a news conference.

But a lot has happened in the world of cell phone software in the intervening year, and Google looks set for an uphill battle in trying to capture the desires of consumers and wireless carriers.

Research firm Strategy Analytics estimates that T-Mobile could sell 400,000 phones this year, giving Google about 4 percent of the U.S. market for “smart” phones, a category dominated by Research in Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry phones with competition from Apple Inc.’s iPhone, Palm Inc.’s Treos and Centros and various phones running Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Mobile software.

The new phone, called the G1 according to T-Mobile’s invitation, is widely expected to be a design from HTC Corp. of Taiwan, which has made a name for itself by making smart phones that use Windows Mobile software. Based on previous Google demos, it’s assumed that it will have a touch screen and a slide-out, full-alphabet keyboard.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week, citing unnamed sources, that the phone would sell for $199 and carry the Google brand. It’s likely that the phone will go on sale in a few weeks. “This is the right moment for Google to answer some of the big questions that have been outstanding since Android was announced almost a year ago,” said Morgan Gillis, executive director of the LiMo Foundation, which has created a rival cell phone software platform. “What will the consumer do on this handset that can’t be done on other handsets?”

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