Google: 18 Android phones coming this year

The Android invasion is coming.

Google has disclosed that by the end of 2009 it expects at least 18 phones on the market running its Android operating system. That number does not include handset makers using the basic version of Android that have not notified Google of their plans.

Andy Rubin, Google's director of mobile platforms, said the number could be as high as 20, and that the phones will be made by eight or nine handset makers.

Rubin declined to discuss specific vendors or carriers that will launch the Android phones. He said, in general, that carriers in the United States would be slower to launch Android phones than their European counterparts because of the highly competitive US smartphone market and the desire of US carriers to take more time and create a highly differentiated Android experience.

The internet search giant's comments around Android appear to confirm a recent forecast by research firm Strategy Analytics, which predicted a 900% growth in Android handset shipments in 2009.

Handset manufacturers that have committed to producing Android phones this year include Acer, HTC, Huawei, LG, Motorola and Samsung. Additionally, Sony Ericsson said it will likely make Android phones when Android 2.0 software becomes available.

Rubin said 12 to 14 of the Android phones launching this year will have Google applications on them, and that five or six will have the Google logo on them. On these phones, carriers and handset makers have agreed not to censor the Android Market if some people find some applications distasteful.

For more: - see this NYT blog post

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