T-Mobile to double Android output, add tablet

Sep 15, 2010

The carrier is preparing for a big holiday season, providing Appolicious with hints about its coming line-up of Android phones.

More Android, lower prices

The wireless carrier that introduced the first Android phone, the T-Mobile G1, is gearing up for a big holiday season. T-Mobile has already said it will start selling the Android-operated G2, made by HTC (2498.TW), in late September to existing customers while new buyers get a shot at the phone in October.

The G1, originally nicknamed the Google phone before Google (GOOG) starting selling its own phone (the now defunct Nexus One), will be two years old in October. That’s almost hard to believe, considering that 2010 is the year that the Android operating system exploded in popularity. T-Mobile, of course, has lost its exclusive grip on Android phones, but the carrier remains a major player in the Android market.

Currently, T-Mobile offers eight Android phones, including two versions of the MyTouch line, the Samsung Vibrant, the G1 and a few others. Expect that Android phone count to nearly double before the year’s out, a T-Mobile representative told me yesterday. Plus, expect an Android tablet to hit the carrier before the Christmas holiday, although additional details were not provided.

During our chat, the T-Mobile representative wouldn’t provide specifics on when the phones and the tablet will be released, but here’s a little of what you can expect:

— The representative acknowledged another MyTouch phone is coming but wouldn’t confirm rumors about specs. The MyTouch is T-Mobile’s Android branding, similar to Verizon’s use of ‘Droid’ for its top Android phones.

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— Lower smartphone prices to lure families into buying more than one Android phone. Several of the new Android phones will be marketed for family plans, the representative said. Details of this new pricing approach are starting to emerge, as some retailers will price the G2 at $150 — not the $199 we initially expected. Images of the G2 were just released, by the way.

— A new approach to promoting the Android Marketplace that focuses on family friendly apps. It won’t be as ambitious as Verizon’s expected Android app store, but T-Mobile will start to make significantly more suggestions, the representative said.

— More preloaded apps on Android phones. You may recall that the Samsung Vibrant shipped with the movie Avatar as an app. The representative admitted that shipping preloaded apps may annoy hard-core Android users, but many of T-Mobile’s customers are new to the platform and the preloaded apps offer a showcase of the platform’s possibilities.

The G2 will get much of the initial attention this fall, as it is the first T-Mobile phone engineered for T-Mobile’s new HSPA+ network. That network upgrade will essentially offer 4G network speeds. A national roll-out of the network is ongoing, and it is expected to be in more than 100 markets by the end of the year. A nice plus is that 16 current T-Mobile phones will be able to tap into that faster network, meaning you don’t need a new phone. A note of caution, however: those 16 phones may not be as fast as the G2, which is optimized for HSPA+, the representative said.

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BlackBerry anyone?

If you’re still addicted to the BlackBerry (RIMM), you’re probably not reading this piece. But if you — or someone you love — still craves a new BlackBerry, a new model of the Curve went on sale today at Verizon. The so-called Curve 3G, or BlackBerry Curve 9330, is already for sale at T-Mobile for $80 and Verizon will sell it for $30. Ouch.

One possible reason for that painfully low price: The Curve 3G runs on BlackBerry 5, Research in Motion’s old operating system, even though it can be upgraded to the BlackBerry 6 OS whenever it is made available on products other than the BlackBerry Torch.

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Eric Benderoff

Eric Benderoff is the principal of BendableMedia.com, an editorial services firm, and a founding member of the Appolicious content strategy team. His personal technology column for the Chicago Tribune has appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide. He is a regular guest on Chicago's WGN Radio and is a frequent commentator about consumer technology on national TV news programs.

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