You might expect sales to be intitially sluggish for a new smartphone with an unproven mobile operating system.

But that was never going to be the case with the hotly anticipated first Google Android handset from T-Mobile and HTC, which is expected to be officially announced Tuesday.

Research from Strategy Analytics suggests that the Android operating system will sell 400,000 units by the year-end.

If accurate, that represents 4 per cent of all smartphones sold in the US during the fourth quarter of 2008.

Neil Mawston, director at Strategy Analytics, said Android was a relatively late entrant and it will join an increasingly crowded smartphone market alongside Blackberry, Microsoft, Apple, Palm, Symbian and LiMo.

But he added: "We forecast 10.5 million smartphones to be sold in the United States during Q4 2008.

“We estimate smartphones with Google’s Android operating system, led by HTC of Taiwan, will reach 0.4 million units in the quarter, for a 4 per cent marketshare.”

Chris Ambrosio, executive director at Strategy Analytics, said Google had the brand power in the US to make a big impact at launch.
He said the main issue would be operator subsidies. The HTC handset is expected to have a USD $199 price tag.

“As seen with the iPhone and smart devices in general, retail prices need to be well below USD $200 to be competitive,” he said.

“Longer-term success will, of course, rest on Android vendor ability to create designs with wow factor and an intuitive user-interface.”

Ambrosio said Google would do its part to drive growth, and he expected Android to eventually offer a compelling range of mobile applications emphasizing Google’s online assets, such as advertising, mapping and search.

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