Google phone makes its debut

NEW YORK -- The new Google phone, called the G1, made its long awaited debut on Tuesday in New York, officially marking the arrival of Google to the big-stakes game of global wireless.

T-Mobile is the first U.S. carrier to offer the device, which will cost $179 and require consumers to sign a two-year contract for data and voice. Data plans will start at $25 a month.

The device won't be available until Oct. 22, but consumers can pre-order by going to T-Mobile's website.Users are required to sign up for a Gmail account, Google's email service.

Technically, it was T-Mobile's announcement, but there was no doubt about who was running the show: Google.

The Internet giant rode herd over development of the G1, which uses a new open-platform mobile operating system called "Android," that Google spearheaded and ultimately controlled.

The G1 is crammed with Google applications, including Google Maps and, of course, Gmail. Other applications include one-click ordering from Amazon and a feature that turns the screen image into a compass – it pivots, showing true North, as you move.

At the end of the short press conference, Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page were hauled on stage, David Letterman-style, as surprise guests. Their onstage patter was part standup and part sales pitch. Andy Rubin, Google's Android chief, was also on hand to sing praises of Android.

As for T-Mobile, it's hoping to use the G1 to drive sales.

"We're hoping to attract new consumers and sell a lot of (G1) devices," Cole Brodman, chief technology officer, told USA TODAY.

T-Mobile thinks the association with Google is good for business, Brodman says, one reason it's marketing the device as the "G1 with Google." Brodman says the tech giant didn?t require that wording, "we're doing it voluntarily. We feel strongly that Google is the face of the Internet," he says.

The 3G powered-G1 will stay under wraps for a while. The device isn't being given to tech reviewers until after it goes on sale next month.