The newest Google phone is official: Vodafone will start selling the so-called HTC Magic this spring in Europe. When will it go on sale here? That’s a little more complicated.
In the U.S., the only carrier selling Google (GOOG) phones so far is T-Mobile, which offers the HTC G1. But according to the HTC Magic specs at Gizmodo, the new phone doesn’t seem to be able to access T-Mobile’s 3G network here. (It isn’t listed as compatible with the 1700 megahertz radio band that T-Mobile uses.) That means it’d be stuck on T-Mobile’s poky EDGE network — yuck.
Then there’s the rivalry issue: In Europe, T-Mobile and Vodafone are big competitors. So perhaps HTC will keep it out of T-Mobile’s hands in the U.S. just to keep Vodafone (VOD) happy.
Vodafone does have a stake in Verizon Wireless, a joint venture with Verizon (VZ), and now the no. 1 U.S. wireless carrier. But Verizon has snubbed Google phones so far. And anyway, Verizon Wireless uses a different wireless technology called CDMA, which wouldn’t be compatible with the HTC Magic. Same goes for Sprint Nextel (S), the other U.S. carrier that’s pledged to work with Google.
AT&T is another potential partner. But AT&T has also snubbed Google phones so far, is a Verizon Wireless (and therefore Vodafone) rival, and has an exclusive on Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone, which is still worth as much of its attention as possible.
So: Non-3G at T-Mobile? Maybe. Or AT&T? Maybe if Google can get them to nibble. But for now, it looks like the HTC Magic won’t be available in the U.S. any time soon.