The deafening silence coming from Google’s (GOOG) Android business has led some to believe that the mobile operating system is dead on arrival. But there’s finally some signs of life. Specifically, Samsung — one of the world’s biggest mobile phone makers — says it’s planning three Android phones for 2009.
Samsung’s first Android-based phone will launch in June outside the U.S., the company told Forbes. And two U.S. phones will launch sometime in the second half of the year. We don’t know for sure which carriers will sell the phones, but it’s most likely they’ll be Sprint Nextel (S) and T-Mobile, the two carriers that have signed on to Google’s “Open Handset Alliance.” That’s not as good as all four major U.S. carriers selling Android-based phones, but there’s still time for that.
Android won’t have a direct impact on Google’s business any time soon. It’s a free product, so Google does not get paid a small per-licence fee like Microsoft (MSFT) does for Windows Mobile. Instead, the idea was to make mobile advertising a stronger potential business for Google — by making smarter smartphones available to more people, so that more than 20% of subscribers even bother to use the Web on their phones.
So far, with just one phone for sale in the U.S., Android is nowhere near being a successful investment in any sense. But we’ve always said that this Christmas will be Google’s first real checkpoint, when carriers and phone makers have had more than a full year to start building Android systems. In addition to Samsung’s phones, there should be Motorola phones based on Android available this year, plus whatever Taiwan’s HTC is working on. (And maybe more… Dell? LG?)
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