iPhone-like carrier switches for T-Mobile's G1?

When they introduced the G1 late last month (the first phone to make use of the Android operating system), T-Mobile and Google were hoping to make an iPhone-like splash in the mobile communications market. If pre-orders are any indicator, it looks like they've succeeded – by selling out.

But pre-orders are just the first step. Information Week reports:

Strategy Analytics suggested that T-Mobile could sell up to 400,000 units by the end of the year.
One possible hurdle to hitting this sales figure is T-Mobile's relatively small 3G footprint. The G1 greatly benefits from having mobile broadband access, but the fourth-largest U.S. carrier only has 3G service in 13 markets.

To really succeed as a marquee device, the G1 must generate the type of buzz and desire that convinces people to switch mobile carriers – and sometimes incur costly early termination fees. The iPhone was great at that, as CNET reports:

Apple's iPhone 3G apparently created a summertime switch itch: 30 percent of all the smartphone's buyers bailed on their existing carriers in order to purchase the device, according to an NPD Group report released Monday.

That 'switch itch' was scratched by many – including your two Innovation bloggers – because of the iPhone 3G's innovative features and slick interface.

Those who didn't yet make the leap, and who can't wait until October 22 to get their hands on the G1's full QWERTY keyboard and slide-out touchscreen, are in luck – sort of. T-Mobile has made available an online emulator that lets visitors explore the G1 with their mice. It's clever, but not the type of thing that will get many would-be buyers off the fence.

That kick may not arrive until later this month, when the Android Market – the G1's answer to  Apple's much-maligned iPhone App Store – opens. Slate offers a good comparison of the two marketplaces, pointing out the Android Market's free applications and absence of a sticky application approval process.

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