T-Mobile Is Dreaming Of Android Riches. And It Might Have To Keep Dreaming.

The long wait for the first Android phone should be over this fall, when T-Mobile is expected to release an HTC phone based on the Google-backed mobile operating system called the Dream. Following up on growing rumors online, the New York Times has confirmed that T-Mobile is hoping for a pre-holiday launch. (FCC approvals seem to be the last hurdle). The Dream is expected to have a Sidekick-like keyboard that slides out, and will be the first phone to run Android apps. There is even a shaky YouTube video going around purporting to show the Dream (see below)

Originally there were supposed to be a whole slew of Android phones by the end of the year, but they were all pushed out until 2009, with the sole exception of T-Mobile. Add to this another rumor that T-Mobile is going to offer an iTunes-like App store for mobile software across all of the phones it carries, and you can start to see how things are going to change in the mobile industry. Of course, if T-Mobile does replace the conventional deck on its phones with a more iPhone-like selection of apps, the most fully-featured (i.e., Android ones) will shine.

But don’t expect the HTC Dream to outshine the iPhone. This will be the first of many Android phones, and it won’t have the benefit of being designed soup-to-nuts by one detail-obsessed company. It will take an army of Android phones across many carriers and countries to start to seriously challenge the iPhone.

And frankly, it is difficult to find mobile software startups excited about making Android apps at this point. This is a platform war. If there are no compelling apps for Android, nobody will buy the phones. All of that could change the instant that an Android phone is on the market, but my sense is that most developers are taking a wait-and-see approach. (Especially since very few of them have access to the latest Android software developer kit—a sure-fire way to frustrate and alienate them).

Last month at the TechCrunch Mobile Web Wars roundtable, nobody seemed to care much about Android. It was like pulling teeth just to get people to talk about Android. Watch the video below from that panel with Pandora CTO Tony Conrad and Michael Arrington debating how important Android is, or isn’t:

And here’s that dreamy video of the HTC Dream (or not):