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ARMed Android

BARCELONA -- Mobile World Congress -- The first Android phone doesn't look like much up close at the ARM Ltd. booth here at the show.

The rounded white phone with a medium-sized color screen most closely resembles a BlackBerry. The splash-screen has a cute Android logo, and the case has a bunch of numbers on it rather than any actual vendor and carrier branding. It has a basic digital camera onboard and some video capabilities but nothing that was really played up.

A spokesman for ARM was quick to explain that the English chip designer wasn't involved with the phone, other than supplying the silicon it runs on. The Android prototype was designed and built by High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498). In fact, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) itself didn't have much to do with the phone either, the ARM spokesman says: "They basically started the Open Handset Alliance and then stepped away."

Focusing on the prototype phone itself, however, rather misses the point of the Android project. Google was quick to get a software developer kit out for the operating system and has hosted developer days since then. The firm wants to develop a mobile Linux platform that makes wireless applications and services quick and easy to develop. (See What, No Android?, Google's Android Gets Smart and Google: Thinking Bigger Than Phones?)

T-Mobile International AG is the first carrier to have said that it will launch an Android-based phone, sometime in the fourth quarter of 2008. (See Android in Sight and T-Mob Preps Android Launch.)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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