Google's cell phone plans hit delays, Journal says

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Mobile phones under development by Google Inc GOOG.O and its partners face slipping delivery schedules, with the first phones not likely to arrive until late 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

A prototype of the Google Android mobile by NEC is on display at the Mobile World Congress (formerly 3GSM World Congress) in Barcelona, February 11, 2008. REUTERS/Albert Gea

Google had said eight months ago that the first phones to be built under the Android partnership umbrella would come out in the second half of 2008 and commitments from various handset makers and carriers appear to support this initial commitment.

Last November, Google introduced its highly anticipated Android software system for designing mobile phone devices, in a move it promised could help the cell phone industry make the Internet work as smoothly on phones as it does on computers.

The Wall Street Journal story said the first phones were unlikely to appear until the fourth quarter, making any impact on the global mobile phone market from Android-based phones unlikely to be felt until 2009 at the earliest.

Last month, Taiwanese handset maker High Tech Computer Corp (HTC) 2498.TW said it was on track to launch the first Android cell phone by the end of 2008, ahead of rivals.

Deutsche Telekom's DTEGn.DE T-Mobile USA expects to deliver an Android-powered phone in the fourth quarter, but Sprint Nextel Corp S.N will not be able to, a person familiar with the matter told the Journal.

Amid a down day of trading for many Internet stocks, shares of Internet leader Google edged up $2.62, or 0.5 percent, to $549.05 in Nasdaq trading on Monday.

“We remain on schedule to deliver the first Android-based handset in the second half of 2008,” Google spokesman Barry Schnitt told Reuters.

“We’re very excited to see the momentum continuing to build behind the Android platform among carriers, handset manufacturers, developers and consumers.” Android counts more than 30 partners from across the mobile phone industry.

China Mobile 0941.HK, the world's largest wireless carrier with nearly 400 million accounts, likely will have its launch delayed until late 2008 or early 2009 due to Chinese translation problems, the Journal reported, citing sources.

Android has not won broad support from big mobile-software developers, and some said it is hard to develop programs while Google makes changes as it finishes its own software, the Journal reported.

Managing the software development while giving partners the opportunity to lobby for new features takes time, the Journal quoted Google’s director of mobile platforms, Andy Rubin, as saying. He also told the Journal: “This is where the pain happens ... We are very, very close.”

Additional reporting by Robert MacMillan in New York; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Braden Reddall