With dozens of freshly minted applications on hand to stock its shelves, Google's Android Market is all but ready to open-- right across the street from Apple's App Store. All Google needs now is for someone to start selling phones that use Android, its Linux-based mobile operating system. According to reports, that will happen just in time for this year's Christmas buying season.
It looks like the first Android-based devices to hit the shelves will be from T-Mobile, that's according to a story in the New York Times last month. Dubbed the Dream, the phone is built around a large LCD and is clearly is designed to compete with iPhone. As seen in this blurry video of the Dream, the screen slides to unveil a QWERTY keyboard, overcoming what I saw as iPhone's deal breaker--lack of tactile response. The video is too blurry to see much of what the unit offers in terms of graphics, but if Google built it, you know it's got plenty of whiz-bang.
Speaking of which, take a look at the winners of Google's Android Developer Challenge, announced Friday. The way I see it, Google got more than its money's worth from the US$10 million in prize money awarded to developers. Of the [/URL=http://code.google.com/android/adc_gallery/index.html#1]top 10 applications[/URL], all of which are really clever, most involve location-based services in some way or other. It must have been really hard to classify the 10 next-best applications, which themselves also are excellent. They include a whiteboard sharing app, an app for cloud-based storage, and a carpooling app that helps the user find shares. Another 30 applications were recognized as finalists.
The time might never be better to gain ground on iPhone and Apple, which has had its share of technical and public relations missteps in recent months. App Store apps pop in and out (including a good one for tethering and one costs thousands and does nothing), the My Mobile Snafu, and late or ineffective iPhone patches--to name just a few--all have received broad coverage.