AT&T Launches Backflip, Its First Android Smartphone
AT&T today began offering the Motorola Backflip, the carrier's first smartphone powered by Google's Android mobile operating system, after rival Verizon late last year introduced the Droid.
Though AT&T is usually referred to as the exclusive carrier of the Apple iPhone, the nation's No. 2 wireless network has always offered BlackBerry handhelds along with Microsoft Windows Mobile smartphones, though the iPhone's success -- and failures -- generally garner all the attention.
During the roll out of the Droid, Verizon launched an aggressive ad campaign, directly criticizing some of the iPhone's features, but more directly attacked AT&T's 3G network coverage, prompting a legal tussle between Verizon and AT&T , which eventually fizzled out when both agreed to withdraw their respective complaints.
AT&T Finally Gets Some Android App, OS Love
With the launch today of the Backflip, however, AT&T gains back some lost ground as now it expands its offering to include Android, even though the company is the last major U.S. carrier to do so. The nascent Android mobile OS in the past year made huge strides, finally showing up on impressive handsets, such as the Cliq, HTC Hero, Droid and Nexus One, and the inventory of Android apps continues to rise.
Further more, even as rumors circulated that Apple would bring the iPhone to Verizon, so far, that's not the case, and AT&T was recently tapped to be the exclusive provider for the iPad model with 3G connectivity.
Back to the Backflip, which was first unveiled in January -- now mobile enterprise users who use AT&T have an Android choice, as the new handset is being sold for $99, with a two-year contract.
The Backflip runs Motorola's Motoblur software, the company's user interface that streamlines content from social networking sites, e-mail accounts and contact lists and automatically displays them on the homescreen.
It also has an innovative design -- the Backflip's keyboard can be folded back behind the 3.1-inch touchscreen, which allows for a larger than usual keyboard. The new handset runs on Android 1.5, while the Droid was introduced in October with 2.0, and the Google-branded Nexus One, out in January, is powered by 2.1.
There is also some speculation, based on FCC filings, that AT&T will be next in line to sell a version of Google's Nexus One. This is especially interesting, given Apple's recent patent violation lawsuit against HTC, which makes the Nexus One for Google.