SAN FRANCISCO – The wireless world has been patiently awaiting the so-called “Google phone” for more than a year, and reports this week suggest that such a device could soon find its way to the market.

Last November, Google Inc. announced the formation of a large consortium of players from the wireless industry. The group was formed to help commercialize Android – a software platform developed by Google as part of an effort to open up the wireless handset market to more developers who could build on the platform. The group was dubbed the Open Handset Alliance.

Since then, the world has been awaiting the debut of devices that will run on the platform. The Alliance included handset manufacturers such as Motorola Corp., LG, Samsung and High-Tech Computer Corp., or HTC, though none has formally announced the launch of a phone running Android.

Earlier this week, a blog geared toward T-Mobile news reported that the first Android-based phone would go on sale in mid-September at the carrier.

Later, a short video showed up on YouTube purporting to be of the “HTC Dream” Android phone, which bore a similar look to an earlier device shown by Google in a demonstration of the technology earlier this year.

On Friday morning, a report in the New York Times – citing unnamed sources – also reported that the first Android phone would go on sale, by “early October” at T-Mobile. The sources cited by the report also confirmed that the first phone is an HTC device that matched the one seen on the YouTube clip.

The device on the video features a touch-screen similar to the one on the popular iPhone from Apple Inc., but also slides open to reveal a full keyboard for typing.

Phones built on the Android platform could pose a challenge to the other dominant smart phones on the market – namely the iPhone and the BlackBerry from Research In Motion. Theoretically, the Open Handset Alliance could free up the process of developing and launching mobile software applications that is now tightly controlled by wireless carriers. This could lead to a broader range of services and capabilities for the devices.

Apple has already set up a challenge to this notion with its App Store, an online marketplace of software applications developed for the iPhone. The App Store has proven highly popular since the launch of the 3G iPhone last month. Apple CEO Steve Jobs told The Wall Street Journal that sales over the App Store have average about $1 million per day, even though many of the applications are free.

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