Google giving away phones to (some) Android devs

Google just can't stop giving away phones! The first time we heard about what is now called the Nexus One, it was because Google was handing them out at a company meeting. Then they gave everyone at the TED conference a Nexus One. Everyone who attended the Android Developer Lab's at MWC got one. We're told they'll be giving either a Nexus One or a Motorola Droid to qualified developers at next week's Game Developer's Conference. Earlier this week we ran a story (still rumor at this point) saying that anyone registered for the canceled Washington DC Android Developer Lab would get a free "Android device."

[ Get news and reviews on tech toys in ITworld's personal tech newsletter]

Clearly Google wants to get Android phones into the hands of as many tech pundits and developers as possible in order to create buzz and build out the community of Android developers as quickly as possible. But here's a twist to the story. Now Google is giving either a Droid or a Nexus One to existing Android developers. How do you qualify? You have to have an app on the Android Market that has at least a 3.5 rating and at least 5000 downloads. That's a fairly low bar; Google is going to be giving out a lot of devices! The program is called the Device Seeding Program for Top Android Market Developers. Here's the full text of the email going out:

Due to your contribution to the success of Android Market, we would like to present you with a brand new Android device as part of our developer device seeding program. You are receiving this message because you’re one of the top developers in Android Market with one or more of your applications having a 3.5 star or higher rating and more than 5,000 unique downloads. In order to receive this device, you must click through to this site, read the terms and conditions of the offer and fill out the registration form to give us your current mailing address so that we can ship your device. You will receive either a Verizon Droid by Motorola or a Nexus One. Developers with mailing addresses in the US will receive either a Droid or Nexus one, based on random distribution. Developers from Canada, EU, and the EEA states (Norway, Lichtenstein), Switzerland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore will receive a Nexus One. Developers with mailing addresses in countries not listed above will not receive a phone since these phones are not certified to be used in other countries. We hope that you will enjoy your new device and continue to build more insanely popular apps for Android! -Eric Chu Android Mobile Platform

The big question of course, is why send Android phones to developers who already have Android phones? Presumably the assumption is that many established Android developers have older devices and Google wants them to get started taking advantage of new features in Android 2.0+, or even just taking advantage of the more powerful processors in recent phones. As an example, Engadget recently ran a post about HyperDevBox, a Japanese studio that's created ExZeus, an Android game that really shows off what the new handsets are capable of. (I've embedded a video below.) This game (currently) only runs on phones with Android 2.0 or later, and a dedicated GPU; Google would like to see more apps of this caliber in the Android Market and that will only happen when more experienced developers have the latest hardware in their hands. No matter the reason, this has to be good news for developers that qualify!

ITWorld DealPost: The best in tech deals and discounts.
Shop Tech Products at Amazon