Android and Palm coming with new phones

Well the world of non-iPhone smartphones is thankfully not standing still and yesterday came the news that both Google (on T-mobile) and Palm (probably also on Tmob?) are coming out with new phones in the coming months. Of course, this is all speculation, but it seems like solid speculation.

The NYTimes is reporting that Google is getting ready to launch Android on an HTC phone as soon as October. Everyone presumes that this is the HTC Dream with touch screen and slideout keyboard. At 3″ x 5″ and probably a bit chunky due to the slideout-i-ness, this thing is a hunk of phone compared to the iPhone at 2.4″ x 4″ x .48″.

If this turns out true (and it certainly seems like they’re pretty confident about it) I’ll be quite surprised – I didn’t think they had it in them to roll it out. Although, I suppose, they worked on this heads down to the exclusion of their developer base and other partners in the coalition, which makes sense. Still, I think by pre-announcing the product by so much and “opening” it up to everyone and then giving almost everyone the cold shoulder, I think they burned a lot of their good will. Ultimately, I’m sure it won’t matter, the platform will live or die by its consumer acceptance. The iPhone has also proved that the only apps a phone needs to be quite successful is mail and browsing, a wide selection of apps only helps it reach the next level. With the iPhone out consumers now have a much higher bar for smartphone UI – something I’m not sure that Google is very good at doing.

It’ll be curious to see how Android plays out. I feel sure it isn’t possible, almost no matter how good it is, that it will have an iPhone like trajectory. If it is good, it will have a slow but steady growth as more handsets at different price points come out for it. I’d love for it to be great, I’d love for it to offer Apple some actual competition. I’m doubly curious to see how the open platform works in an App Store like feature. I doubt it has success any more than a winmob like acceptance rate, but I hope to hell that Google proves me wrong.

And remember Palm? Good! Well, they’re still kicking and to prove it someone found a page buried on their site talking about their Treo Pro (previously thought to come out as the Palm 850). Of course it’s running WinMob and not their forthcoming next gen PalmOS. But there’s a couple interesting things. First it’s got a industrial design that looks like an upscaled cross between their Centro and a shiny Blackberry – it’s definitely their best looking phone to date. Also, since it’s called the Treo Pro, it looks like they’re ditching their numeric model numbers and going with a more streamlined and consumer friendly naming scheme with the Centro at the low end and the Pro at the high. A good move.

Apparently Palm is pretty confident about this one since it has reportedly ordered several million of them. Presumably that means this thing is going to also be priced cheaply. It had better be – with the iPhone running at $199, it’s a hard sell for everyone else. At any rate, anything Palm does before it’s next gen OS is simply stop gap, there’s no room for any WinMob device to gain any significant market share except perhaps at the expense of other WinMob devices.

So there it is, two rumored moves coming up. What do you think about all this? Android going to kick ass? Is the new design a good portent from the new management team?

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