Google (GOOG) just dropped another million dollars or so pushing its Android mobile operating system: It just gave everyone attending its I/O developers conference a free HTC Magic and a free month of service.
The idea, of course, is to get more people using (and developing for) Android. As Apple (AAPL) has shown, more, better mobile apps can be a massive selling point for a smartphone platform.
The jury is still out on Android. While it has plenty of potential — many manufacturers, especially Motorola, are placing bets behind it — consumers are still flocking to competitors, such as Apple’s iPhone and RIM’s (RIMM) BlackBerry.
The good news is that Android doesn’t have to be a hit for Google to win in the long term. All that matters is that more people use the Web more often on their phones, so they can potentially see (and click on) Google-brokered ads.