Google phone to hit Indian stores in December

https://i2.wp.com/news.cnet.com/i/bto/20080710/iphone3g.jpgTaiwanese handset major High Tech Computer (HTC) is planning to launch the Android platform-powered phone (popularly referred to as the Google phone) in India this December.

The price, however, will be higher than the US debut tag of around Rs 8,200 ($179).

Ajay Sharma, country manager, HTC (India), told Business Standard: “We would prefer a mobile operator tie-up to introduce the Google phone in India in December.”

HTC’s G1 (the Google phone model) will cost more since “the Indian market does not work on the handset subsidy model”.

Android is a Linux-based operating system for mobile devices that was announced in November last year and developed by the Open Handset Alliance — a group comprising players like Google, HTC, Intel, Motorola and Samsung.

Research firm Strategy Analytics has predicted that the G1 could sell 400,000 units by the end of 2008, accounting for 4 per cent of the smart-phone market.

To spur the growth of third-party applications, Google recently announced the Android Market, similar to Apple’s App Store, where consumers can buy and download content for its mobile platform.

Labelled as competition to Apple’s iPhone, which is priced at Rs 31,000 for the 8GB model, the HTC G1 could be priced cheaper to maintain an edge in India. Currently, HTC has smart-phones in the Indian market priced between Rs 10,000 and Rs 35,000. Google India officials were unavailable for comment.

HTC’s device is a 3G phone with a touch-screen, slider keyboard, GPS and Wi-Fi.

HTC India, which has an exclusive partnership with Airtel, is also open to selling the G1 phone through independent retail channels. “We will decide the business model soon,” said Sharma.

He believes that Google’s software platform and operating system for mobile devices has the benefit of leveraging on more than 100 million online web users as well as its open source development platform and advertising-oriented business model.

Although India does not have 3G yet, Sharma said applications like maps and search could find takers. “We expect to build volumes in India and the Android-based phone should make HTC a bigger player in the wireless handset market,” he said.

HTC India hopes to sell 600,000 mobile devices in 2009, having doubled sales this year from 100,000 in 2007.

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