Would it be Too Much to Ask for Some Answers?

We’re coming up on the second half of 2008 and now only months away from the first Android handsets. So why do we know so little?

There are 4 handset manufacturers considered to be founding members of the Open Handset Alliance. These companies (HTC, LG, Motorola, and Samsung) are no slouches as together they account for pretty hefty chunks of the world’s market. Looking at the carriers involved in the OHA, we have Sprint and T-Mobile here in the US and a handful of others overseas. Why is it so hard to get someone to tell us what’s going on behind the scenes?

What is Known

Sadly, this list is will be very short. All but 100% confirmed by a joint press conference is that T-Mobile will be bringing out the HTC “Dream” late this year. It’s likely to drop right around Thanksgiving and the buying season. LG announced back in February that they plan to start shipping Android phones by “late 2008 or early 2009“.

It was also rumored earlier this year that Samsung was going to release two models running Android. The first, a high end model to be put out in September and the other to come at year end for “under $100”. In the 4 months since this rumor, nothing has been said to confirm or deny. The most probable scenario is that this was a bunch of nothing, and one fanboy teasing others.

So after the “Dream” comes along, we don’t have anything official to go off of. This is great if you are HTC, but what about the rest of the community depending on Android to take off? You can’t trickle a phone out here and there and grow an army of Android handsets.

Who is Doing What?

The one maker we’ve yet to hear anything from is Motorola. There’s zero coming out of their camp. I’m not surprised. They have bigger fish to fry right now with their search for a leader and the splitting off of their handset division. I can’t say that excuses things for them though. When the OHA was formed, we were told that each company has to bring something specific to the table and not just attach their name to a list for PR sake.

What do the carriers plan to do in regards to Android? Are they going to offer an entire line of devices running the platform or will there be only 1 or 2 models to pick from at any given time? Will they offer low-tier models on up? We’ve heard officially that Android will work with a trackball. Okay! Great! Who’s gonna make it and which company will provide service?

Andy Rubin said yesterday that Android is already in its “final stages of testing”, and is getting certified by carriers. If that’s true, then the carriers know more about what they plan to do than they are sharing with us. Why the secrets? Hasn’t anyone in these companies learned the value in hyping a product or service? You can’t drop it on us with a month to go and expect people to get behind it. At least not in the ways you’d like us to.

All of this is just my way of telling the Open Handset Alliance to start acting a little more open with us. Pull the curtain back a little bit and show us what’s going on.

You Tell Us

How do you feel about knowing so little in regards to what carriers and handset makers are doing with Android? It’s only months away – Did you expect to know more by now?

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  1. I definitely expected to know more by now. The lack of information is pushing me toward an iPhone purchase. There are so many unknowns, so many variables, that at this point I just can’t make a case that the first Android handsets will be worth waiting for.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think that the consumer-oriented philosophy that is behind Android is incredible. I’m just not sure that that kind of idealism will still be present at the point of sale, after Samsung and T-Mobile put their fingerprints all over it. I guess I’m just not convinced that the hardware manufacturers and service providers in the OHA are actually committed to anything but getting paid.

  2. HTC is crippled with fear that people will abandon its Diamond (their “most important device of the year” according to the CEO) if HTC Dream details spread.

    They are right in their fears.

    However, it is a real shame how less capable devices like the iPhone and Xperia will outsell the Dream based on great hype and marketing, rather than true performance superiority.

    Also WM buyers are WM buyers, who always were, and always will be. Android “waiters” are mostly ppl who want something better than the iPhone. Unless serious Dream details come out at least 10 days before July 11th, Google and HTC will be missing out on MANY potential Android adopters.

  3. I have been following the “gphone” for over a year now.. Mostly rumors mixed with the smallest amount of truth. I would love to have an android based phone. I have had the original iphone and sold it and have used the HTC touch, the new Moto Q, and currently have the Blackberry 8830 Worldphone. I am thinking of getting the new iPhone and probably will since Apple is doing a great job of showing the world what 3rd party applications are being developed and setting timelines for availability. So far Android is Vaporware and I have no idea when it will be available or what the devices will actually look like.. So unless I hear something different before July 11th I will be an iPhone 3G owner..

  4. How come we are in the second half of 2008 already? It is June, the 6th month of the year. The second half begins with the 1st of July. ^_~

    And I am one of those customers, who is an Android buyer, if the details come out before the 11th of July, just as TareX said. This is a bit sad.

  5. Carriers won’t announce until they are sure that the handsets are certified; handset manufacturer’s won’t announce until the Android platform is complete, which means that both are waiting on Google.

    On the one hand, Google says that the SDK is still in alpha and won’t be releasing the beta version for sometime. And now we hear Rubin saying that Android is in the final stages of testing and being certified. How can Android be almost done while the SDK is still in alpha? So which is it? Almost done or not? With the lack of announcements and the lack of an SDK update, the most likely “truth” is that the Android platform is still in alpha.

  6. I just checked the dates in the last publicly released version of the android sdk, android-sdk_m5-rc15.

    The files were last updated on 2008-02-28 @ 16:20

    It is now June 17, 2008.

    I hope we developers get another sdk release soon, maybe after ADC 1 phase 2 is completed sometime around mid July, early August ?

    The question of an sdk update has been asked many times in the Android Developers Forum, but definitive answers are yet to be provided.

    I’d think a lot of us have been just idling along since May (or gone onto iPhone development instead).

    The last Android Developers Blog Entry was 19 May 2008 at 3:08 PM.

  7. The new updated SDK has been given to the finalists in the 1st round of the ADC. However it is an “unrevised” version, not ready for public release:

    Android Developer Finalists To Receive SDK Snapshots

    New ADC after first phone release

    “As a Round 2 participant, we’ll be providing you with the most up-to-date Android SDK so that you can take advantage of the latest tools & platform capabilities that will be shipping in devices later this year. These early access SDKs have many enhancements, additional features, and bug fixes. However, these SDKs have not had the same level of testing as public SDKs, so there are bugs; these releases are definitely “bleeding edge.” As we continue to update the platform, you’ll receive periodic drops of updated early access SDKs. We’ll do our best to give you a rough timeline on when these early access SDKs will be available so that you can better plan your development schedule. Approximately 3 weeks before the submission deadline, we will provide a final early access SDK. You will need to submit your entry using this version of the SDK.”

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