T-Mobile USA will officially unveil the HTC Dream--the first phone powered by Google's fledgling Android mobile operating system--at a New York City press conference scheduled for Tuesday morning, and in the days leading up to its release, the handset has been the subject of rampant rumor and speculation. Last week The Wall Street Journal reported the HTC Dream is expected to sell for $199--while T-Mobile USA is targeting the mass consumer market by keeping the phone under the $200 smartphone benchmark established by Apple's iPhone, Google also wants to restrict the handset price to encourage widespread adoption and in turn persuade other operators and handset makers to embrace the Android platform. According to the Journal, the phone will heavily emphasize the Google name in its branding and marketing--while most devices note only the manufacturer and mobile operator in question, the Dream (and, presumably, subsequent Android phones) is expected to feature the Google logo, suggesting the full extent of the handset's integration with the company's web and search services. The WSJ also notes T-Mobile USA will also introduce new, "aggressively priced" data plans in conjunction with the Dream, citing sources familiar with the matter.
A day later, Forbes weighed in with additional dish credited to Joel Espelien, vice president of strategy for Android partner/mobile multimedia software provider PacketVideo. Espelien contends that Google's influence on the phone is tangible, but not egregious: "It's not a Google smorgasbord," Espelien said. "It's no more in-your-face than Apple's branding on the iPhone." Nor will users encounter a Google banner ad on each screen--according to Espelien, there are "no new forms of ads" on Android handsets, countering criticisms the OS exists solely to serve Google's stated mobile advertising ambitions.
So exactly what are Google's hopes for Android, anyway? Google mobile engineering director Andy Rubin is glad you asked. Writing on the Official Google Blog, Rubin says "The phone that you have in your pocket, pack, or handbag is probably ten times more powerful than the PC you had on your desk only 8 or 9 years ago... It has a range of sensors that would do a Martian lander proud: a clock, power sensor (how low is that battery?), thermometer (because batteries charge poorly at low temperatures), and light meter (to determine screen backlighting) on the more basic phones; a location sensor, accelerometer (detects vector and velocity of motion), and maybe even a compass on more advanced ones. And most importantly, it is by its very nature always connected." According to Rubin, these essential elements of the mobile makeup promise a future where phones will provide smart alerts based on the user's personal preferences, an "augmented reality" bolstered by information resources like GPS, security and authentication tools, media broadcast services and even the foundation for third-world economic development. Rubin doesn't come right out and say Android will enable this future vision, of course. But then, Tuesday's HTC Dream announcement isn't the end of the Android rumor speculation--it's merely the beginning of the anticipation for what happens next. -Jason
P.S. Be sure to check back with FierceWireless all day Tuesday for live coverage from the T-Mobile USA/Android event.