September 23, 2008, 12:00 AM

T-Mobile launches Google-based mobile phone with Amazon shopping built in

The T-Mobile G1 smartphone enables standard and mobile web browsing and employs Google’s new and open Android platform. Consumers can use the phone to download digital music from Amazon.com.

Search king Google Inc., mobile device manufacturer HTC Corp. and wireless carrier T-Mobile today unveiled the T-Mobile G1 smartphone. The smartphone design mirrors that of Apple Inc.’s iPhone 3G and Sprint’s Instinct, among a handful of phones that enable users to browse standard web sites as well as sites optimized for the smaller displays of cell phones.

However, the T-Mobile G1 is based on Google’s Android platform, a technology any manufacturer can adopt for free that enables developers to build applications for any device using Android. The platforms of the iPhone 3G and similar phones are specific to those devices, forcing application developers to customize apps for each phone. What’s more, the T-Mobile G1 jumps a hurdle other such smartphones haven’t: It includes a hard-key full QWERTY keyboard with one key for each letter as opposed to just a touchscreen keyboard.

The T-Mobile G1, connected to T-Mobile’s 3G wireless network and available Oct. 22, comes with numerous applications built in. One is a mobile phone-optimized version of Amazon.com Inc.’s Amazon MP3 music store. Mobile shoppers can search, buy, download and play music from Amazon MP3, which offers more than 6 million MP3 songs from the four major music labels and thousands of independent labels. The music files do not contain digital rights management technology, or DRM, and thus can be played on virtually any hardware device and managed with any music software.

“Amazon wants to make it easy for customers to discover, buy and play their music wherever they happen to be-whether sitting at their computer or on the go,” says Bill Carr, vice president for digital music and video at Amazon.com, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. “The release of the T-Mobile G1 puts Amazon MP3’s vast selection of DRM-free music at the fingertips of even more customers in more places.”

Another online shopping application for the T-Mobile G1 soon will debut. Developers at Shopsavvy.com are finishing a mobile version of their price comparison site. The application, built using the open standards and tools of the Android operating system, will enable users of the new smartphone to take a picture of a barcode and receive via the mobile web prices of the product from various retailers.

The T-Mobile G1 is the first Android-powered mobile phone. Android is an open, free mobile platform developed by the Open Handset Alliance and led by Google. Unlike all other mobile platforms today, any manufacturer or application developer can use Android and need not alter programs for other Android-based mobile devices as they are released.

The T-Mobile G1 combines full touchscreen functionality and a QWERTY keyboard. It comes embedded with numerous Google applications, including Google Maps with StreetView, Gmail, YouTube and others. Users of the new smartphone will be able to download more mobile applications, many for free, from an Android applications store soon to debut. It will be similar to Apple’s App Store, except all Android applications can be used with any device, regardless of manufacturer, that use the Android operating system.

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