Android launch will heighten competition in a market increasingly dominated by Apple’s iPhone and RIM’s BlackBerries

Touted as Google’s answer to the iPhone, the first cell phone powered by the feverishly anticipated Android software is to be unveiled on 23 September.

T-Mobile has announced a press conference in New York to demonstrate the touchscreen, 3G phone next week – but the handset isn’t expected to go on sale until October.

As has been widely reported, the phone – possibly called the Dream – will be made by Taiwanese manufacturer HTC and will be the first to use the open-source mobile-phone operating system.

Android is expected to make it easier and more enticing to surf the Internet on a handset.

Details about the phone’s pricing have not been released but T-Mobile is expected to subsidise part of the phone’s cost for buyers who agree to subscribe to the carrier’s mobile service.

Google is anticipating higher advertising revenues from use of the software because of increased use of its Internet search engine and other services while they are away from the office or home.

The iPhone is currently Google’s biggest source of mobile traffic but the search giant expects hundreds of different mobile devices to run on the Android system.

The Open Handset Alliance, a group that includes Google, T-Mobile, HTC, Qualcomm and Motorola, is billing Android as the first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices.

Handset manufacturers and wireless carriers are expected to be allowed to customise the platform, possibly introducing new services, internet applications and user-friendly interfaces.

Sprint is also planning to produce an Android phone but that is not expected to launch until early next year.

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