AT&T to Sell Smartphones Using Android OS


LAS VEGAS — AT&T said on Wednesday that it planned to sell smartphones running the Android mobile operating system by the second half of the year, including Dell’s first smartphone,

The company said it expected to sell five new devices created by handset manufacturers that also included Motorola and HTC.

AT&T is the last major wireless carrier in the United States to add an Android-powered smartphone to its lineup.

Jeff Bradley, senior vice president of devices at AT&T, said that the carrier had been slow to adopt the Android system.

“We hung back and watched the market very carefully,” he said during an interview after the announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show here. “When we saw the demand was there and the product was ready, we decided to bring it out.”

AT&T is expanding its stable of smartphones even though it has the exclusive rights to sell the popular Apple iPhone in the United States.

“AT&T needs another leg to stand on beyond the iPhone, which has been this pillar of strength for the company,” said Roger Entner, at telecommunications analyst at Nielsen. “If and when the iPhone exclusivity goes away, they want to have a well-rounded portfolio.”

Mr. Entner said the announcement also was an indicator of how powerful Google, the developer of the Android mobile operating system, had become in the smartphone market. “If consumers want an Android-powered device, it doesn’t matter which carrier it’s on. AT&T doesn’t want to be left out,” said Mr. Entner.

In addition, AT&T said it would also introduce two devices running on the Palm mobile operating system, though it did not reveal specifics. Palm currently offers two phones running on that software, the Palm Pre and the Palm Pixi, which have been available only on Sprint’s wireless network.

Recently, AT&T has faced considerable criticism by iPhone owners for delayed text and voice messages, sluggish download speeds and other network problems. Android phone users are also prodigious users of network resources.

Mr. Bradley said the company was repairing its taxed network by upgrading software to increase data delivery speeds and by erecting new cell towers.

“We have been extremely focused on the challenges that the network has faced,” he said. “We are going to make sure the network is ready and capable to handle all the new devices announced.”


[via The New York Times]



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