Google releases its new mobile phone – and it’s cheaper than the iPhone

Internet search giant Google released its long awaited mobile phone overnight, which was developed by manufacturer HTC and released with telecommunications group T-Mobile.

Google phone

The smartphone war continues.

Internet search giant Google released its long awaited mobile phone overnight, which was developed by manufacturer HTC and released with telecommunications group T-Mobile.

The T-Mobile HTC Dream, or G1, is the first to run on Google’s Android software and will be available from 22 October in the US at $US179, over $20 cheaper than Apple’s 3G iPhone device.

Google acquired mobile phone software developer Android in 2005, prompting rumours the internet giant would be planning the release of a mobile phone device.

An Australian release date is yet to be set.

The phone offers similar features to the iPhone and RIM’s BlackBerry including a touch screen, high-speed internet, Wi-Fi capability, instant messaging and email facilities.

The G1 comes in three colours and features a slide-out qwerty keyboard, while also boasting capability with Google software applications, including Google Maps and g-mail.

The phone also features a dedicated player for YouTube, the video hosting site acquired by Google in 2006.

In a challenge to Apple’s iTunes music store, the G1 allows users access to Amazon’s MP3 music store with a catalogue of more than six million tracks. But similar to the iPhone, the G1 will also feature applications available for download in the “Android Market”.

But unlike the iPhone, the source code for writing these applications is publically available, allowing any user to create new applications to use and spread across the internet.

Google phone

Google promotes the use of open-source software development and formed the “Open Handset Alliance” in 2007 to help develop the Android Software, with groups such as Intel, Motorola, T-Mobile and LG taking part.

But some say the G1 has a long way to go before catching up to Apple’s iPhone. ITWire.com telecommunications editor Stuart Corner says the device lacks the sort of recognition that makes the iPhone so popular.

“The thing it doesn’t have is brand backing,” Corner says, but admits he hasn’t looked closely at all the G1’s features and applications.

“Obviously Google is a huge brand, but it’s not necessarily going to help the phone all that much,” he says. “If you think of the iPhone, it’s part of the whole Apple ecosystem, which gives it enormous clout and a unique advantage.

“I’m not sure how much the G1 is going to be able to ride on the back of any integration with any Google services,” Corner says.

Google share prices rose 7.38% in the US to $US437.52 after the launch.

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