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There's more to a phone than cool demos

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Phones based on Google's Android platform may not be around this year as promised, according to sources tracked down by the Wall Street Journal, which reports technical delays and industry antipathy surrounding the project.

Google predicted that Android-based phones would be around during the second half of 2008, but even the most optimistic people approached by the Journal thought it would be the very tail-end of the year, with most people not expecting to have devices available until 2009 or perhaps not at all.

Producing a demonstration handset really isn't very hard: a visit to any number of Asian manufacturers will result in them showing 20 or 30 working handset designs, all of which (they swear) are ready for launch and can be demonstrated. But getting those demonstrations into working products is a great deal harder than most people imagine.

For Android the problems apparently relate to porting of operator services, along with concerns that Google hasn't locked down the platform yet, so even working applications have to be changed for every new Android version released.

China Mobile is reportedly having trouble getting Android to work with the Chinese language, while Sprint is considering giving the platform a miss for a while - though it's phrasing that in terms of wanting to offer a 4G device.

Only T-Mobile USA is still intending to have a device on the market during 2008, a commitment into which Google is putting considerable resources.

Of course, no one seriously expects version 1 of Android to be any good. Creating a new mobile platform takes many iterations (if one is not Steve Jobs) as demonstrated by Microsoft, Symbian et al. Google isn't a company known for patience, but changing the world just can't be done in a day. ®

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