Is Android ready for Aussie prime-time?

2010 looks set to be the year of Android with mobile makers and telcos alike backing Google’s open-source OS for a bumper year.

However Android has been slow to take off in Australia says Tyler McGee Vice President of Telecommunications for Samsung Australia.

McGee told APC that “Android is hampered by low level of consumer awareness” on the local market

“There are pockets of people who know what Android is although general awareness is still quite low in Australia and it has a low presence at retail. But as more Android devices come from the major players in future this will boost awareness and when you have more of a range at retail will have more impact on consumers.”

The Icon Galaxy I5700 is Samsung’s second-gen Android phone with a 3.2 inch HVGA (320 x 480) screen
although it still plays safe with the design specs and UI

Samsung will be part of that push with McGee saying the Korean colossus “will continue to grow the Android market with new devices this year.”

These phones are likely to sport more of a customised UI compared to Android’s standard ‘out of the box’ interface.

“We get a little but hung up about platforms to a degree but the top layer user experience should be the same whether you pick up an Android or Bada or Windows Mobile  device from us” McGee said. “We’ve learnt a lot from the Icon Galaxy and that will help us in the evolution of what were going to being in future Android devices.”

Telstra is also bolshie on the prospects for Android with the carrier committing to launch its first Android handset in April.

Ross Fielding Telstra’s Executive Director of Wireless Applications and Services told APC that the carrier’s pricing on the HTC Desire (shown above) “is going to be very aggressive” in order to ensure it lands in the palms and pockets of punters during Telstra’s three-month exclusivity period on the handset.

“The Desire is  great around social networking and getting customers online. We see a massive opportunity for growth” Fielding predicts

Paramount to that would be educating the market on smartphones as a category rather than Android as a platform says Fielding.

“It comes down to asking what’s the underlying OS versus what you do with the phone. The OS allows all sort of online use and social networking and access to services but it’s probably more important for us to educate the market on what you do with your smartphone.The underlying OS is less interesting although app stores come to the fore in that discussion.”