Andy Rubin, senior director for Mobile Platforms for Google and the guy behind the push of the Android operating system, said the number could be as high as 20, according to the New York Times.
The devices will be made by eight or nine different manufacturers, he said.
(My guesses: HTC, Samsung, Motorola, LG, Asus, Toshiba, Sony Ericsson, Garmin. As for the wireless carriers, we'll see who wants to wheel and deal behind closed doors.)
Currently, HTC is the only manufacturer with phones on the market: the T-Mobile G1 and the "Magic," which is only available in Europe.
According to the Times, Rubin said the U.S. market is so competitive that "carriers and handset makers want to create highly distinctive versions of the Android phone to give themselves an edge."
As I've blogged before, a summer "soap opera" is beginning to form between Apple, RIM, Palm, Symbian and Google (plus, belatedly, Microsoft). The question, of course, is what consumers will do with the newfound freedom of an expired contract.
That said, it's in Google's best interest to make Android phones stand out, even though it doesn't quite have the quality control that Apple, RIM and Palm have with their proprietary systems. It's a slight disadvantage, but it may end up helping the company in the long run by allowing consumers to be choosy with their phones but still run Android in a widespread manner.