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Google Android deadline slips

Jun 23, 2008 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive
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Google now expects Linux-based Android phones to ship in the fourth quarter instead of the second half of this year, according to a report. Reasons for the delays reportedly include language glitches, last-minute changes from Google, and issues over carrier branding.

(Click for larger view of Android Challenge winner, HandWx)

The delay was reported in a story in today's Wall Street Journal. The news comes only a few weeks after Google showed off a prototype of a phone using the open source Android spec. Google and the Open Handset Alliance, which officially oversees Android also recently announced 50 winners out of an impressive 1,788 submissions for the first round of the Google Android Developer Challenge. (See image above of one winning application, HandWx, developed by Weathertop Consulting and Weather Decision Technologies.)

However, behind the scenes, delays have been piling up, says the WSJ story. Roadblocks are said to be occurring at Google, at software development houses, at handset manufacturers such as Samsung, and with wireless carriers. Specific points made in the article include:

  • Software developers are said to be running into delays due to Google continuing to make new changes after specs had been established.
  • Some developers are holding back from developing Android applications until Google clarifies how applications will be distributed and how developers can earn revenue from them.
  • Handset makers such as Samsung are taking longer than expected to integrate and test Android, as well as build custom interfaces for specific carriers, according to the article.
  • In order to meet a planned delivery of Android phones by T-Mobile USA in the fourth quarter, Google has been neglecting Sprint Nextel Corp., which will have to postpone until 2009, according to a WSJ source. Sprint delays are also said to be occurring due to management shake-ups, as well as the carrier's intention to develop its own branded services based on Android rather than serve up a pure Android phone. Sprint is also considering selling the phones on their cutting-edge 4G services instead of on the existing 3G platform, says the story.
  • China Mobile planned to launch an Android phone in the third quarter, but due to technical issues will postpone until the fourth quarter or early 2009, says another source. The carrier and its unnamed handset maker are allegedly struggling to translate the Android software from Roman characters into Chinese, and the carrier is also said to be having trouble integrating its own branded data services into Android.
  • So far, Google has yet to convince AT&T, which currently carries the iPhone, to launch an Android phone.

The story goes on to note that the Android delays are occurring while Apple appears to have drawn great interest in its second-generation iPhone. Meanwhile RIM continues to sell its Blackberry smartphones at a brisk pace. The story did not mention Android's biggest Linux-based competitor, the LiMo Foundation, which gained momentum recently when it announced it had signed up Verizon Wireless to launch a phone based on its LiMo Platform. Verizon Wireless said it expects to offer a LiMo phone sometime in early 2009.

The story quotes Andy Rubin, director of mobile platforms at Google, saying the delays are occurring in part due to partners lobbying for new features. Rubin is quoted as saying, “This is where the pain happens. We are very, very close.”

The full Wall Street Journal story by Jessica Vascellaro and Amol Sharma, should be available here.


 
This article was originally published on LinuxDevices and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit LinuxToday.com for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.

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