Motorola’s Photon 4G gives Sprint an Android boost

by Kristen Nicole

For those looking for some new options around Android devices, Motorola’s (MMI) new Photon 4G and Triumph are worth considering. The Photon 4G is the first Android-powered Motorola device on Sprint’s (S) network, while the Triumph is exclusive to Virgin Mobile US (VMED). Helping along Sprint’s 4G push, the Photon 4G is the network’s first dual-core phone, powered by an NVIDIA (NVDA) Tegra 2 processor and running Gingerbread. It’s 4.3 inch aHD display is the same as the Atrix 4G, and even comes with a similar webtop docking device (sold separately).

The Triumph, on the other hand, is a prepaid device with nearly as many features as other smartphones in the market. It has a 4.1-inch WVGA display, dual-facing cameras and a very slim design. It runs Android 2.2 and comes pre-loaded with Virgin Mobile Live 2.0, a socially-driven music app. There’s even an HDMI port, a feature usually reserved for high-end devices. The pricing and availability details on both the Photon and the Triumph have yet to be announced, but Sprint and Motorola have set summertime launches for both.

Carriers look beyond devices to lure buyers

Sexy devices for the business world and the working class makes for a broad Android appeal, a tactic that’s enabled Google (GOOG) to spread its mobile platform across carriers and consumers. And the mobile app ecosystem that’s emerged is also giving carriers some leverage for monetization and marketing. T-Mobile has teamed up with WildTangent, a platform to monetize Android games. The service will embed ads in games, supplementing download costs for rentals. It acts as a discovery tool for premium games, ultimately encouraging users to purchase top titles. WildTangent is promoting its WildCoins virtual currency system for in-game purchases, pushing third party developers to extend their reach.

Google working on a better messaging system?

Google’s determined to instill as many features as it can to encourage growth and adoption around its mobile OS, with word of a new messaging system that could rival RIM’s (RIMM) BlackBerry Messenger and Apple’s (AAPL) iMessage. Few details have emerged around the system, but developing beyond its existing Google Talk and other IM capabilities would put Android in a more competitive position. Instant messaging is an important aspect of mobile communications, with Apple outlining a significant update to its own messaging system at WWDC earlier this week. Messaging is central to BlackBerry’s hold on the market, and luring them away would require Google to push its own comparable app, instead of relying on third-party apps to do the job.