Early adopters of T-Mobile's G1 Google Android phone are likely to have to contend with two separate music download services. The UK version of the Amazon MP3 music download service, which comes preinstalled on the G1, won't be ready for launch when the G1 goes on-sale here next month, according to sources.
Last week, T-Mobile announced that will be the first mobile phone operator to launch a handset based on Google's Android platform. The mobile phone operator will put the first T-Mobile G1 Google phones on-sale in the US from 22 October, with the UK close behind.
In the UK, the Google phone will launch on T-Mobile at the beginning of November. Germany, France, Italy and Spain will quickly follow.
What wasn't revealed at the time, however, is that while most of the specifics of the T-Mobile G1 in the UK will be the same as the T-Mobile in the US, the Android phones won't be identical twins.
It seems that T-Mobile US has arranged for Amazon MP3 - the soon to launch digital music store - to provide an iTunes-like content purchase and synching setup on the G1 handset. This same arrangement will not immediately be replicated elsewhere, however.
Both Google and T-Mobile have confirmed to PC Advisor that Amazon MP3 will initially launch only with US models of the G1 handset. The UK version of the T-Mobile G1 Google phone will come with the Amazon MP3 software preinstalled - it just won't work out of the box.
Current plans for a UK version of the Amazon MP3 service on the T-Mobile handsets suggest a launch by Q1 2009 but "possibly before the end of the year".
Watch the video below to see the T-Mobile G1 in action
Amazon was keen to avoid discussions about when the Amazon MP3 music download service will launch, referring us to a global announcement in April this year stating its intention to launch Amazon MP3 "internationally" before the end of 2008.
So when the T-Mobile G1 goes on-sale in the UK at the start of November, customers will need to prepare themselves to use two music managers: T-Mobile's Mobile Jukebox music portal and Amazon's MP3 download service.
A T-Mobile UK spokesman pointed to the prevalence of alternative media managers when asked to clarify just how UK T-Mobile customers will be able to download content to their Google Android phones. As an open-source mobile phone platform, this will certainly be an option.
Even so, it seems a missed opportunity for Google, Amazon and T-Mobile given the goodwill surrounding the Amazon MP3 platform.
When it first became known last year that Amazon was planning a rival to Apple's dominant iTunes music store, it was clear that there is strong support for a good value, DRM-free music download site, particularly since Amazon seemed to suggest it would be offering higher-quality 256Kbps MP3 files as a standard. Apple charges a premium for non copy-protected music and for the higher bit rate encoding.
There was also a good deal of speculation that Amazon had taken to heart suggestions that it launch its digital music download service in Europe simultaneously, if not ahead of the US. The US is blessed with a good deal of choice of digital download stores, whereas other territories not only have fewer services to choose from, customers routinely pay more for items they buy.
Apple's iTunes music store has been the subject of much ire - and even legal action - because it charges significantly less for a track in the US than it does in the UK, France and elsewhere.