In a challenge to Apple and other major mobile device providers, this week saw Google launch its first mobile phone in the US. The G1 is available for the equivalent of £99 in the US, but is likely to be given away for free with some contracts when it is launched in the UK in November.
The launch comes after a prepay version of the iPhone was introduced recently, and just days before Nokia will present its first touchscreen phone. In the UK the G1 will be available exclusively from T-Mobile, and it will be subsidised in the hopes that this will attract customers.
The G1 is larger than the iPhone, but it has a 3.2 inch touchscreen that flips out to give access to a full Qwerty keypad, a three megapixel camera and a built-in compass, in addition to motion-sensing technology to allow users to navigate using Google Maps by rotating the phone.
While the Apple iPhone
is clearly the winner when it comes to looks, the G1 features Google's Android, an 'open' system which will allow advanced users to create personalised features for their phone. Google hopes that in the long-term this will lead to the development of hundreds of applications accessible for G1-users on a public marketplace.
The G1 gives users one-touch access to Google online applications such as the email service Gmail, the video-sharing site YouTube, instant messaging, and the map service Google Maps.
It comes with 2GB of memory, enough to store 500 music tracks, but can be expanded to 8GB with an additional memory card. High-speed internet access is offered via the 3G phone network and Wi-Fi, and downloading is much faster compared to the iPhone
Welcoming the launch of the new device, Google founder Larry Page said: "You always have your phone on you but you do not always have your laptop with you, it is quite difficult to carry it all time… being able to do a search with all flexibility that you are used to having on a laptop is really, really worthwhile and we are really excited about it."
Christopher Schlaffer from Google's partner T-Mobile added: "We do clearly think that the mobile internet is the dominant force in our industry going forward. The G1 is a milestone in bringing the open mobile internet to the mass market."
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