T-Mobile's Android-based G1 goes on sale

Launch draws 150 to line up at San Francisco store

The first cell phone based on Google Inc.'s Android platform went on sale Tuesday evening in San Francisco ahead of the start of sales across the U.S. today.

T-Mobile USA Inc. began offering the G1, made by Taiwan's HTC Corp., at its store on the city's Market Street at 6 p.m. The launch attracted a queue of about 150 people and was headed by Christopher Laddish, a student who had been waiting since 8 a.m. to buy the phone.

"I was sold on it without even having to pick it up," said Laddish, who was wearing a T-shirt given to him by T-Mobile that read "I was the first to get it." He said his current plan with Verizon Wireless was up for renewal on Tuesday and after shopping around he settled on the G1 because he liked products from both Google and HTC.

After a brief countdown as the clock approached 6 p.m., customers were allowed into the store to buy the phone. A few minutes later Laddish, with a large smile on his face, was surrounded by photographers and TV cameras who were there to document the start of sales.

The G1 costs $180 with a two-year service agreement and mail-in rebate. The phone without a service plan costs $400.

It has a 3.2-in. touch-screen display that slides away from the main body of the phone to expose a QWERTY keyboard. That puts it into competition with other smart phones like the BlackBerry and Apple's popular iPhone.

"I've been reading a lot about the phone for the last couple of weeks and I'm not really a big fan of the iPhone touch screen," said Chijioke Amah, who was also queuing up to buy the G1. "That's probably what made me not that interested in the iPhone. When I heard T-Mobile was going to have the Google phone with a keyboard, that's what got my attention."

Amah, who confessed to being a Mac user, said he isn't sold on the idea of typing on a touch screen and so decided the G1 would be a better choice than the iPhone as he switches from his current BlackBerry.

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