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Google Phone faces Launch Delays

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It has been reported that the Android operating system for mobile phones being heavily promoted by Google will not be available until the fourth quarter of this year, at the earliest. Citing unnamed sources, the Wall Street Journal reported that some companies developing the "Google Phone" may miss even that delayed deadline.

When Google announced the Android operating system last last year, they had suggested that handsets would be on the market early in the second half of this year.

The newspaper reports that while T-Mobile USA still expects to deliver an Android-powered phone in the fourth quarter, but that Sprint Nextel has abandoned plans to launch a handset until next year. China Mobile has also had to delay a launch until the end of this year - at the earliest, thanks to problems developing a Chinese language version of the Operating System.

However, speaking only last month at the Wireless Innovations 2008 conference, Joe Sims, vice president and general manager of T-Mobile's broadband and new business division, said he had already seen working prototypes of Android-based phones.

"I'm impressed," he said. "We will have more than one product...(The move to an open platform) will be innovation across the board, not just one device." he told Dow Jones, which sponsored the conference.

Part of the problem has been put at the door of Google, which is still developing the underlying OS, which makes it difficult for software houses to develop applications to sit on top of it. Handset OEMs are also understood to be having difficulty with some aspects of the application software.

Complaints about new software aren't unusual, but a sizeable number of developers - the very people that Google hopes will add the bells and whistles to its mobile phone software - are complaining that the tool kit is riddled with coding errors, some of them shockingly basic. Even worse, they said, is that Google has been largely unresponsive to their feedback and some observers suggested the very credibility of Google's mobile phone initiative is on the line.

"Is this a minor glitch or is it indicative of things to come?" asked Bill Hughes, mobile analyst at In-Stat consultancy last December. "They could slow ultimate adoption of the platform if they don't respond quickly and specifically to the concerns of the wireless developer community."

Early prototypes running the open-source software were on display at the 3GSM Congress in February and HTC says that it has already developed a fully functioning handset.

On the web: Wall Street Journal

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