Google has forecast that there could be as many as 20 smartphones based on its Android operating system available on the market by year-end, reports the New York Times. Speaking at an Android developer conference this week, Andy Rubin, senior director for mobile platforms at Google, said that the devices would be made by eight or nine different manufacturers. To date, there are only two Android-based phones available, the HTC-manufactured ‘Dream’ offered by T-Mobile across many of its markets (branded as the ‘G1’), and the HTC ‘Magic’ in Europe. Rubin added that he thought Europe would be a more advanced market for the Android phones than the US, as fierce competition in the European markets would drive operators and handset-makers to create highly distinctive versions of the Android phone.
On the subject of the increasingly crowded application store market, Rubin reinforced Google’s position that Android is an ‘open’ platform, and outlined three broad models of how the Android app store will work. One will allow device manufacturers to download a free version of Android and provide access to as many or as few apps as they want, but not Google applications such as Gmail; the second will see manufacturers sign a distribution agreement to include Google applications on the phone; and the third is dubbed ‘the Google Experience,’ which will allow the vendor to use the Google logo on the phone but have no say over the applications available. Rubin said the majority of the 18-20 phones set for launch this year would use the second option.