Excerpts from the blog Very interesting stuff came out of conversations I had this week with executives involved with the G1 phone from...

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Excerpts from the blog

Very interesting stuff came out of conversations I had this week with executives involved with the G1 phone from T-Mobile USA, Google and HTC.

Especially when I asked if there are any plans to use the Android operating system that powers the G1 to develop small laptops.

It’s not that much of a stretch. Mini “netbook” computers selling like crazy this year are based on Intel’s “Atom” hardware designed for handheld computing devices similar to the G1.

Asus started the ball rolling with its EeePC, but lately even Hewlett-Packard and Dell are making them.

Intel’s also a big player in the coalition working with Google to develop Android software, which will be released as open source around the time the G1 goes on sale Oct. 22. Android is also based on Linux, which powers many of the Atom laptops.

Google clearly wants Android to be used in all sorts of devices, not just high-end smartphones, but it’s not saying much about whether it will go head-to-head with Microsoft in low-end PC operating systems, as well as in phone software.

Rich Miner, Google’s mobile-products group manager, gave an intriguing answer when I asked whether Android is running on Atom processors. “Not at the moment,” he said.

Miner said, “We’ve had great interest in those platforms,” but the team has been busy with huge interest from phone manufacturers and carriers around the world.

There was an equally pregnant pause when I asked HTC executives if they’re developing any sort of netbook/laptop based on Android.

HTC makes phones but has experimented with larger devices and recently introduced a Windows Vista-based mobile computer with a 7-inch touch-screen and 3G wireless connectivity.

HTC Chief Executive Peter Chou said the company is “very committed on this mobile segment,” but it’s looking at the ultramobile PC category as well.

“When we do something, we need to make sure we actually create our own value and differentiation,” he said. “Sometimes we have tried something but there’s a segment, like EeePC, and those are very crowded so we are still figuring out our strategy — how we can be differentiated in that area.”

Could HTC use Android for such a device?

“Potentially,” said Jason Mackenzie, vice president of HTC America in Bellevue.

An Intel spokeswoman couldn’t give specifics. “We expect to see Atom in a variety of devices, but at this time I can’t speculate on which particular customers, if they’re not public,” Connie Brown said.

First Google and its partners are going to get the G1 and other Android-based phones out the door.

Miner didn’t have any projections of unit sales to share, but said Google has broad goals for the product. (Android is named for a mobile-platform company Miner co-founded before Google bought it).

“Ultimately we just have to help the mobile industry to be able to achieve the mobile Internet and a more open experience, so people can better experience Google and other experiences from those mobile devices,” he said.

Miner declined to say much about other Android phones in the works, but said he’s seen different shapes, colors, form factors and display presentations.

The bigger challenge, perhaps, may be getting the phone onto the road maps of software developers who have an array of exciting but incompatible smartphone platforms for their applications, not to mention the proliferation of browsers that work on these computerlike devices.

What about the comparisons between the iPhone and the G1 that people are making? Miner said he was concerned such comparisons and the focus on the new device would overshadow the bigger Android platform effort.

“In an ideal world, frankly, we would have simultaneously launched two or three devices and people would have said, ‘Oh, I get it, it’s not about iPhone versus the quote “Google” device,’ ” he said.

Miner said the goal isn’t beating a particular competitor but “having a platform that can really help raise the bar for a large percentage” of the billions of mobile phones.

Eyes on Tesla

I just heard from a Tesla Motors spokeswoman that the public can see the Roadster coming this weekend for its Seattle debut.

There won’t be opportunities to drive or sit in the car, but people can watch it being driven, take photos and talk to Tesla employees during the events in Bellevue: from 8:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday, when journalists will drive the car; and on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., during an event for buyers.

The events will be held at a former Kmart parking lot, at 15015 Main St.

Tesla is driving a car from San Carlos, Calif., on Thursday, doing high-mileage testing of it along the way.

This material has been edited for print publication.

Brier Dudley’s blog appears Thursdays. Reach him at 206-515-5687 or bdudley@seattletimes.com.