T-Mobile will unveil the company’s second attempt to make an Android smartphone matter in the North American market come August, according to a report Monday at TechCrunch, and while the phone appears to have some worthy features its eventual success remains an open question.
To be called the myTouch and sell for $199, according to the report, T-Mobile’s Android 2.0 is apparently a modified HTC Magic, which has been available in Europe for a couple of months and went on sale more recently in Canada.
The myTouch will lose the Android G1’s physical keyboard and sport a more robust battery than T- Mobile’s initial open source Android product, but offers little to distinguish it from the latest version of Apple’s iPhone or the putative new kid on the smartphone block, Palm’s Pre.
The major drawback for the myTouch will undoubtedly be its lack of multi-touch screen functionality that sets the iPhone and Pre above others in the smartphone class. An improved battery and Android’s ability to run third party applications in the background (which the iPhone famously prohibits, based mainly on concerns for battery life) could draw some curiosity seekers; and widespread dislike for AT&T’s network — the only one iPhone presently runs on in the US — could attract those who find T-Mobile a more palatable carrier than AT&T or the Pre’s Sprint Network.
T-Mobile’s marketing for the myTouch and TechCrunch’s initial review on the device both tout “a deep level of customization” as the biggest thing going for it, however, and that does not bode well for a gadget in a category with performance specs that improve markedly with each new release.
The myTouch will come in a choice of three hardware colors (black, white and a shade of purple the company calls “distinctive merlot”) and feature an array of themes and skins to customize menus, wallpapers, icons and a range of other things, which doesn’t sound like the kind of $200 device that’s likely to sell a million units its first weekend on the market.
Perhaps disaffection with Apple’s tight control of the third party application market will continue to grow; perhaps applications developed for the Pre will fail to materialize. And perhaps millions of people will be attracted to the idea of spending time setting up and customizing their phone instead of using it.
Perhaps, but not likely.