Telstra has put its weight behind Google's Android mobile operating system, announcing plans to make its applications available through the Android Market app store.
The news comes with the launch of the HTC Desire Android-based handset, which will be exclusive to Telstra for three months from April 27.
Richard Fink, director of device management and operations at Telstra, said the company is excited about its first Android handset which will run applications for Tesltra BigPond, Foxtel and Sensis services.
“We are launching a Whereis Navigator client on this device and apps for YellowPage and WhitePages,” Fink said.
Initially, Telstra apps will ship pre-loaded on the HTC Desire, but the company will publish them on the Android Market, potentially making them available to thousands of other devices not on the Telstra network.
“We have been working closely with the Android Market to publish the Telstra apps. It won’t be in time for the Desire launch, but it will be soon.”
Fink said the HTC Desire is the first handset on Telstra’s network “customers can make their own” through customisation.
Anthony Petts, sales and marketing director for HTC Australia and New Zealand, said the new Desire is the most customisable handset on the market with support for 20 “scenes”, each with seven screens.
“A scene can be customised for work, games, or Telstra applications,” Petts said. “Pinch to zoom shows all seven screens”.
Key features of the device itself include the HTC Sense UI, Android 2.1 operating system (with integrated Google groupware apps), a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor, a 3.7-inch capacitive touch screen, a 3.5mm stereo audio jack, and “polite ring” which lowers the ring volume when the device is picked up.
For social networking, HTC developed the Friend Stream app that aggregates Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr into one set of updates.
The device’s user data – like SMS messages, bookmarks and Wi-Fi passwords – can be backed up to a microSD card and restored if needed.
The HTC Desire will be available for $0 upfront on Telstra’s $60 consumer phone plan (24 months) from April 27. It can be purchased outright for $779.
This plan, however, does not include any mobile data. The $65 business plan includes 300MB of data per month.
Telstra has built a HTC Desire promo site at: http://www.telstra.com.au/htcdesire.