Google Expects 18 Android Phones This Year: All the Flavors Explained

Google/Android's Andy Rubin said at the Google I/O conference that Google expects 18-20 Android phones this year from 8 or 9 manufacturers—and those are just the devices they know about. But it's gonna be slower going in the States because of the custom Android builds that carriers want.

(The custom builds frighten us, on multiple levels.)

More interesting, perhaps, is how they fall along the Android lines—there are apparently three ways for a manufacturer to put Android on their phone with varying levels of Google control (though all are free). The "no strings" version anyone can grab, but it doesn't have Google's apps. The "small strings" version includes an agreement to distribute Google's apps, and 12-14 are this flavor.

The final one, aka the Google Experience, is like the G1—you've got Google apps and an agreement from both the carrier and phonemaker that they won't restrict access to the Android market at all. You can spot these phones by the Google logo literally branded onto them. (These are the Android phones you probably want.)

So, maybe 2009 will be the year of Android after all. Maybe. [NYT]