New Android phone may take six months to translate

It may take six months to translate Android software into most languages around the world.

The Android handset unveiled by T-Mobile, Google and High Tech Computer (HTC) in New York on Tuesday is only available in English, but will be available in most other languages within the next six months, an indication of how long it will take to reach new markets.

The device, called the G1 by T-Mobile but named the "Dream" by HTC, will first be available in the U.S. on Oct. 22 for US$179. The U.K. launch will follow in early November.

"All the development work was done in English," said John Wang, chief marketing officer of HTC, in an interview early Wednesday in Taipei. "It will take about six months for the device to become available in most languages around the world."

It won't be available in non-English speaking countries at all until the first quarter of next year when G1 handsets roll out in European nations including Austria, Czech Republic, Germany and the Netherlands.

As for Chinese, the native language for most HTC employees -- the company is based in Taiwan -- Wang wasn't sure.

There is no clear date for when the first handset to run Android software will reach Asia, or anywhere outside of the West.

T-Mobile's G1 is the first handset to use the Android OS and software developed by Google. Developers hope the software can help handset makers come up with Internet-enabled devices that compete against Apple's iPhone.

A touchscreen that can flip up to reveal a QWERTY keypad dominates the face of the G1. The key to the new handset is the many applications already available for Android. The mobile phones and software are designed to work with a lot of current Google services, including Google Maps and Google Maps Street View, as well as YouTube videos. T-Mobile partnered with Amazon for music downloads to the phone.

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Dan Nystedt

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