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T-Mobile focuses on 'personalization' for its new myTouch smart phone

June 22, 2009 |  1:01 pm
The myTouch 3G, running Sherpa.  Image: T-Mobile

T-Mobile today announced its new myTouch 3G smart phone, the next generation of its G1 handset, which was the first to deploy Google's Android operating system.

But where the homely G1 found a limited home among tech-savvy early-adopter types, T-mobile is aiming the sleeker, more colorful myTouch squarely at the mainstream -- as well as at its well-hyped new opponents, the Palm Preand iPhone 3G S. 

The company is emphasizing the various ways consumers can customize or "personalize" their phones: from the menu options to the array of available Android applications, to the inclusion of a program called Sherpa that learns about users' real-world preferences as they visit various restaurants and businesses in their towns.

"Most of the other products are really built as one-size-fits-all,” said T-Mobile's chief technical officer, Cole Brodman. For the myTouch, he said, the company's focus is "going to be around individualization -- how we allow consumers to make it theirs. No two are really ever alike." 

Leapfrogging the G1, the myTouch device will come with a 3.2-inch touchscreen display as well as an accelerometer and compass to boost the phone's ability to know where it is and which way it's pointing -- the better for location-based applications.

The phone, which will become available for pre-sale on July 8 and is expected to ship on July 29 will retail for $199 for new T-Mobile customers who sign up for a two-year contract. The price may be different for existing in-contract customers, depending on how much time remains on their contract. T-Mobile said the pricing ladder will not be finalized until closer to the pre-sale date.

The Sherpa application, which T-Mobile co-developed with Santa Monica-based mobile technology company Geodelic, uses a "learning engine" to determine mobile users' preferences and behavior, the better to recommend places and services in a given location. Geodelic calls Sherpa a "geobrowser" because it searches the Web to pull appropriate recommendation data from sites such as Yelp and CitySearch.

The emergence of the myTouch, coupled with the recent launch of the Pre and IPhone 3G S, clearly cements this as the summer of smart phones.

-- David Sarno