T-Mobile plans to sell a home phone early next year and soon after a tablet computer, both running Google's Android operating system, according to confidential documents obtained from one of the company’s partners by The New York Times.
The phone will plug into a docking station and come with another device that handles data synchronization as it recharges the phone’s battery, according to the report.
It was only last August that T-Mobile, the nation's fourth-largest wireless carrier, introduced the G1, the first smartphone based on Android. Even though the OS is open-source, Taiwanese manufacturer HTC has been the only one to use the software (thus far) in the consumer market.
Still, Samsung committed last week to ship a number of Android-based phones this year for T-Mobile and Sprint. And Motorola has been rumored to be preparing a phone running Android for this October.
The news about the tablet PC reveals that the vision for Android definitely goes beyond the cell phone, and could show up anywhere from your computer to your car. It also reveals that the smartphone and the computer have nearly converged, at least on the development front.
Still, the business model for such convergence is in flux. Currently, laptop computers are sold as hardware with add-ons, while cell phones are subsidized thanks to lucrative data plan revenues.
But netbooks are changing the game, and AT&T's announcement of a trial program last week to sell netbooks for just $50 to people signing two-year contracts for its wireless data services indicates just that.
T-Mobile apparently has other plans:
T-Mobile shares in this grand vision of more sophisticated devices in the home. For instance, its line of Cameo digital picture frames can receive new photos sent via e-mail or from cellphones. T-Mobile would like to link phones, photo frames, digital cameras, security systems, webcams and TVs through its software and networking services.
Verizon, with its new Hub phone, and AT&T, with its HomeManager, sell similar products that merge the delivery of information and phone calls on a computerlike appliance.
“This is their attempt to keep people interested in landline services,” Mr. Sterling, the analyst, said.
With the proliferation of Android, has the line between computer and smartphone finally been completely erased?