The battle for the home is heating up again, with T-Mobile USA Inc. going after the segment with renewed vigor using Google Inc. Android mobile OS platform. According to documents leaked to the New York Times, the carrier will offer an Android-based home phone as early as 2010, reportedly with a seven-inch touchscreen.
For months, manufacturers have been discussing moving Android – the platform behind the T-Mobile G1 handset – into form factors beyond the cell phone, but T-Mobile might have the first commercialized device. Being based on an open mobile OS, the phone will likely take a page from the Verizon Hub and AT&T Home Manager products, wrapping in some mobile functionality like the ability to send SMS messages, along with widgetized information from the Internet, like weather and RSS feeds.
It’s no secret that more and more residential users are eschewing their landlines for a cellular-only life. A barrier has always been indoor call quality, however. T-Mobile has been at the forefront of the trend by cellcos to capture the home phone line from the LECs and cablecos, once and for all with its dual-mode Wi-Fi/cellular service, Hostpot@home, which allows users to make calls over Wi-Fi while in the home zone. Sprint-Nextel Corp. has tried to stake out the same territory, using its Airave femtocell service to provide indoor coverage for cell phones as well as in-home mobile broadband.
Meanwhile, as traditional landline subscriptions continue to erode for the RBOCs, they’ve turned to fixed-mobile convergence strategies like the Hub and the Home Manager to encourage stickiness, and supercharge the home phone proposition by making it about more than just voice, tapping into the connected home trend. This is the milieu T-Mobile will wade into with the Android strategy.