(CNET) There will be plenty of hullabaloo on Tuesday when T-Mobile unveils the first phone powered by Google's Android operating system. But the event is only the beginning of a long effort to rewrite the rules of the mobile communications industry.
The phone, a somewhat chunky model called Dream built by HTC, is expected to cost about $200 from T-Mobile and go on sale in October. Until other partners in the Google-spawned, 34-member Open Handset Alliance bring their Android products to market, this small piece of electronics will shoulder a lot of ambitions.
For T-Mobile, an Android phone could bring some Google buzz to the scrappy carrier, helping match what AT&T got from Apple's iPhone. It also could potentially persuade customers T-Mobile's new 3G network is worth paying give T-Mobile new revenue from online application sales.
For Google, Android is a tool to spread Internet-savvy phones far and wide. People with powerful networked phones use the Internet much more, and Google wants to be the top company supplying the information they demand online.
"Look at Japan, (where) we have far more usage of mobile Web. It's similar with the iPhone," said Google co-founder Sergey Brin in a meeting with reporters last week. "If the Internet is widely available, that's good for us."
What's not yet clear is how well Android phones will fare in the marketplace. Google's software is untested, and there are plenty of competitors in the mobile phone market.
But Google's advertising business is a money factory, and the company has shown it has patience to invest that money in key projects. So even if the first-generation Android phones don't entice people to line up around the block, competitors who develop mainstream phone operating systems such as Nokia's Symbian and Microsoft's Windows Mobile doubtless are taking heed.