TORONTO — Android is in from the Fringe.
Tuesday, Canadian actor Joshua Jackson – star of TV series Fringe and road-trip movie One Week – joined John Boynton, Rogers Wireless senior vice-president John Boynton to launch HTC Corp.’s Dream and Magic smart phones, the first in Canada to operate on Google Inc.’s Android mobile platform.
Jackson had spent Monday touring secret locations in Toronto, trackable on Rogers’ rogersrevolution.com, giving away free Rogers merchandise.
The HTC Dream has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard; 256 MB of flash memory and up to 192 MB of RAM; a 3.2-inch, 320×480 backlit LCD touchscreen; UMT S dual band, GSM, GPRS and EDGE connectivity; Wi-Fi (802.11b/g), Bluetooth and global positioning system (GPS); and a 3.2 megapixel camera.
The HTC Magic is touchscreen only, with 512 MB of ROM and up to 288 MB of RAM, but otherwise similarly specified.
Jackson called it the only handheld he’d used with the full power of a computer. “Which brings me to: can I keep one?” he asked Boynton at the press conference.
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But the real appeal for phones on the open source Android platform will be the downloadable applications. “There are maps in the Android Market for everything,” said Boynton. So far, there are 3,200 in the Market, and Boynton says that number will take off. “They’re easy to access, easy to develop,” he said.
The phone ships with Google applications including Google Maps, Lattitude (a GPS-based friend-locator service) and YouTube.
Boynton said that between the announcement of the phones and Tuesday’s launch, there were more than 30,000 visits to the rogersrevolution.com Web site, suggesting a big market for the device in Canada.
IDC Canada Ltd. analyst Kevin Restivo isn’t so confident. While the prosumer smart phone market may just be taking off, it’s getting crowded quickly.
“It will appeal to a certain group of people who are tech-savvy,” who will buy the phone for its open source hook, “but the runway on that community will run out.”
Restivo said others will be attracted to the phone based on the Web experience and the Google connection, too. And it’s attractively priced at $149 with a three year data plan of at least $45, he said.
“Having said all that, it’s not the next Jesus phone,” Restivo said.
“HTC and Android will create a niche, but I wouldn’t expect a tidal wave of adoption.”
Restivo expects Android phones from other manufacturers soon, and “there will be broader appeal to Canadians than just HTC and Android.”