Posted February 11, 2008 2:20 pm by with 10 comments

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If you wanted to see Google’s Android-powered phones at the Mobile World Congress you had to act fast. The first prototypes of cell phones with the Android operating system, were shown to industry experts and journalists today. Space for demonstrations ran out in the first hour of the show, which continues this week in Spain.

The demonstrations were by chip makers like ARM, Marvell, Texas Instruments, Qualcomm, NEC and ST Microelectronics.

This November, Google announced Android and the response was skepticism about the quality. It’s an important move for Google as more people use their cell phone or mobile device to access the Internet. This is especially true in developing countries where people are more likely to have a cell phone than a PC.

Surfing the web on a cell phone is usually slow and clunky. Android will hopefully improve the experience by opening their system up to developers to continually improve and extend the usability of cell phones.

Here’s Google’s thinking: the easier it is to use a phone to go online, the more people will go online through their phones. Then Google can expand their market considerably and monetize the traffic with advertising.

Google is trying to position their software as the best operating system on phones. From initial reports at the show, it looks promising. But there’s still a lot to be done before the phones are ready to market. Still, commercial versions of the phone are  expected to be for ready by the end of this year.

The challenge now is to get more manufacturers to participate. Google has competition from the world’s biggest mobile phone maker, Nokia, Microsoft, and another group developing an open-source solution. Looks like they are giving the popular iPhone some new competition.

To help seed creativity initially, Google set aside a $10 million fund for developers who create applications for Android.

If you’d like to see an intro by Sergey Brin and Steve Horowitz – here’s the YouTube video explaining Android.