Regional wireless operator Cincinnati Bell introduced its new Android-powered Blaze smartphone in a continuing effort to use Google's smartphone platform to bolster its efforts to compete with wireless heavyweights like AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ). The action yet again highlights Android's role as a way for smaller players to get in the smartphone game.
Cincinnati Bell is offering the Android-powered Blaze touchscreen smartphone for $99 after a rebate and with a two-year service contract. The gadget, which is entirely branded by Cincinnati Bell and offers no hint of a manufacturer's logo, sports the Android 1.6 operating system, support for UMTS bands (1700 MHz/2100 MHz), 256 MB of RAM, WiFi and a 5 megapixel camera. Cincinnati Bell is heavily promoting the phone and the Android platform on its website.
Interestingly, Cincinnati Bell's support for Android extends to Google's own Nexus One. Though Cincinnati Bell is not subsidizing the price of the Nexus One, it is directing shoppers on the Cincinnati Bell website to visit Google's now-defunct Web store in order to purchase the Nexus One. Cincinnati Bell recommends that shoppers purchase the "compatible with 3G on T-Mobile" version of the Nexus One, which will work on Cincinnati Bell's own network.
Cincinnati Bell is not the only regional carrier to leverage Android in an effort to target the nation's larger carriers. Cellular South last year unveiled support for the Android-powered HTC Hero.
Google's Android has rapidly gained status as the go-to platform for upstarts looking to take a piece of the smartphone pie. Firms including Kyocera, Acer, Dell and others are relying on Android to propel them into the smartphone game.
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