Report: HTC's Android-powered "Google phone" may be delayed after all

I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. Developing a phone — even if it is just an operating system — is not something you do overnight with a bunch of cajoled software developers.

Just a week after High Tech Computer (HTC) said it was on schedule to deliver Android-powered cell phones by the 4Q of 2008, another report surfaces Thursday that says HTC is “having structural problems to incorporate Google’s demand feature set” and “demanding a guaranteed minimum revenue surety from Google,” according to Barron’s Tech Trader Daily.

Barron’s picked up a research note from Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research saying his “contacts” contend that HTC’s Android handset — the so-called Google phone — will be delayed until the first quarter of 2009.

Additionally, Chowdhry’s “contacts” tell him that another problem Google is having is attracting software developers to the platform. They’re too busy writing code for Windows Mobile, Nokia (Symbian), Research in Motion (BlackBerry), and Apple’s iPhone.

That’s no surprise. These guys actually have phones, real working phones, to develop for and test.

And while we’re on the subject of handset manufacturers, where’s mention of everybody else besides HTC? HTC, the world’s leading maker of smart phones as an ODM, has publicly stated it plans to come out in 2008 with an Android phone. Google swears there will be Android this year.

But what about Samsung? Or Motorola? Or LG? They’re supposedly going to deliver Google phones in 2009, but how’s that going? Sony Ericsson has fallen on hard times lately, so it’s conceivable that it’s worrying about its own problems, not the Gphone.

See also: No surpise, Gphone reportedly delayed and The Gphone is coming; how Google could rewrite the rules

And let’s not forget that, while Apple has received mostly praise for the iPhone 3G, the iPhone 2.0 software update, the grand opening of the Apps Store, and the arrival of third-party applications for the platform, there’s still a lot of complaints about the OS crashing and buggy first-gen apps. It hasn’t been a super-smooth road for Apple, either.

So why do we think that HTC — or anybody else for that matter — is going to introduce an Android-powered phone in the 4Q of 2008? If someone does, chances are it will be a Gphone, loaded with Google apps, because from what we see there’s not even a hint of an Apps Store-like place for users to buy third-party applications written for the platform.

It’s not that I’m against a Google phone. Far from it. The cell phone world, especially in the U.S., needs Google, and Apple. These two can challenge other manufacturers to develop innovative new phones and together (hopefully) they can knock the siloed, we-don’t-really-want-openness-and-change carriers on their keisters.

Google should have developed its own damn phone. And even then, there’s no guarantee it would be ready for 4Q 2008.

Illustration credit: Android wallpaper, samuraispy on flickr

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last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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