Google's "G1" mobile phone is to be formally announced today, and is expected to go on sale in the US and the UK in the next few months.
At a joint conference in New York with T-mobile, the phone's network provider in the US and the UK, Google are expected to unveil a handset manufactured by Taiwanese electronics manufacturer HTC. Photos leaked on the internet suggest it is likely to feature a touch screen as well as a QWERTY keyboard concealed beneath a slide-out screen. Further rumours hint at the incorporation of features such as inbuilt global positioning system and a tilt-sensor.
The phone will run Google's new open source operating system, "Android". Announced in late 2007, it is expected to become a platform for a variety of mobile devices, and has the backing of network provider T-Mobile and chip manufacturer Intel as well as Google and other leading technology companies. Both Samsung and LG are developing phones which will use the software to be released next year.
While Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch applications go through a strict vetting process and can only be released through the iTunes Apps store, from which the company make a slice of the profits of every application sold, those developed for Android will be open to distribution via different routes, and charges will be managed by the software distributors themselves. To stimulate interest in developing for the platform, Google is currently running a "developer challenge" with more than $10m in prize money to go to the best applications created for the Android platform. Market leader Nokia has thrown down the gauntlet to Android in anticipation of the launch, promising to make its operating system also free.
HTC, the manufacturer of the handset, hopes to ship 600,000-700,000 units of the G1 worldwide this year.