The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the release dates for Google’s Android mobile operating system and mobile phones running the open-source software are slipping. Google now expects that we will not see handsets until the fourth quarter of the year. The delays appear to be due to a number of reasons.
For one, Google is still working on the operating system, making it more difficult for its partners to do their own development. For example, Google is still accepting new functionality requests from its partners.
Mobile carriers that want to offer their own branded services are also finding that their timelines are getting pushed out, most into 2009. So far, it appears that T-Mobile USA may be the only carrier to get a device out by Q4. Sprint, which had hoped for a Q4 release, is now looking at early 2009 and could even scrap its plans entirely until it deploys its 4G network. China Mobile has run into issues modifying Android to work with Chinese character sets.
Meanwhile, device manufacturers are playing with a variety of form factors. One device apparently comes with a long touchscreen display, a full keyboard that swivels out, and a trackball. Their own development is being affected by the fact that Android is still in development and carrier requirements.
Meanwhile, Google’s competitors are open to capitalize on the delays to introduce their own new devices. Apple’s iPhone 3G is just around the corner; RIM has the BlackBerry Bold, BlackBerry Thunder and BlackBerry KickStart, and a host of devices running Windows Mobile 6.1 are starting to hit the street.