Google's Android-Powered G1 Officially Debuts

The handset has a 3.2-inch touch screen that slides up to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard and runs on T-Mobile's expanding 3G network.

T-Mobile's HTC G1 is the first Android-powered handset.
(click for image gallery)

Google, T-Mobile, and HTC formally launched the G1, the first handset using the open source Android mobile operating system.

The G1 has a 3.2-inch touch screen that slides up to reveal a full QWERTY keyboard. The handset has integrated Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth, and it can utilize T-Mobile's expanding 3G network for surfing the Web, checking e-mails, and downloading applications.

Since announcing the smartphone in late September, T-Mobile has seen huge demand for it.

"During the past month, we've seen unbridled excitement for the T-Mobile G1 and the positive impact it will have on the mobile lives of our customers," said Denny Marie Post, T-Mobile USA's chief marketing officer, in a statement. "In fact, among those T-Mobile customers who have preordered the phone, roughly half have traded up from a basic handset, illustrating the leap many consumers are taking to a rich, accessible mobile Web experience."

One of the major appeals of the G1 is the tight integration with Google's online services. G1 users will be able to easily use Gmail, search, Google Maps, and more. There's even a compass mode that enables users to get a 360-degree panoramic street-level view by moving the handset.

Android Market is an open content distribution system for finding, purchasing, downloading, and installing content on Android-powered devices.
(click for image gallery)

Enterprise users may not find the G1 appealing, though, as it lacks built-in Microsoft Exchange support, and IT departments may not be familiar enough with its security features to allow in corporate access. But the Android mobile platform is going to rely on third-party developers to fill the needs of users, and there's already an Android app that offers partial Exchange support.

Like Apple's iPhone 3G, the G1 is expected to have a robust mobile application store. The Android Market is expected to be a major factor in whether Android gets widespread adoption, and the market is already populated with free applications like games, location-based tools, and bar-code scanners.

In the first quarter of next year, developers will be able to sell apps, and Google said it won't take a percentage of the revenue. By contrast, Apple takes 30% of any app sold in its store, and Research In Motion said it will take 20% from apps sold in its upcoming BlackBerry app storefront.

For Google and the Open Handset Alliance, the G1 is merely the first Android-powered handset that will hit the market. Motorola is reportedly working on an Android phone that will have heavy social networking integration, and electronics manufacturer Kyocera recently said it is planning Android phones.