The Land Down Undah is having a banner year. Not only is Baz Luhrman's Australia getting rave reviews, but Ruslan Kogan, a young Aussie entrepreneur, has unveiled the world's second Android phone.
Huh? Who is Kogan, and how in heck did he race ahead of the major cell phone manufacturers??
The story, it seems, started when the twenty-something was looking for an LCD TV a couple of years ago, says The Sydney Morning Herald. Unfortunately, like most young adults, he was broke. But he soon realized that instead of going through middle men, he could directly contact some factories in China. Long story short, he did ultimately get his hi-def TV and, by pre-selling a bunch of units on eBay and bundling orders, wound up becoming his own online-only brand in the process.
No biggie. Businesses start like that all the time, right? But few have the guts to make bold moves like this one: Last month, Kogan promised to start selling the second Android phone by year's end and at less than $200 US. The kicker is that he's (pretty much) delivering on his promise. Kogan Technologies just opened the carrier-independent Agora and Agora Pro for pre-sales online today, with a ship date of January 29.
When Boy Genius, Engadget and others reported on this, i had to look at my calendar. Is this April 1st or something? Nope, this is for real. And the phones don't look too bad either. BlackBerry fans will find the form factor familiar (and, I think, an improvement over the G1 handset). While I do wonder how these phones will hold up IRL, I hear that other Kogan products, like the Full HD Video Camera, GPS and Blu-Ray Player, seem to get decent reviews.
Both cell phone models feature a 2.5" touchscreen, 3G, Bluetooth, microSD slot, email with attachment support, music player, QWERTY board and, of course, the Android OS, making them fairly decent G1 alternatives. (The Pro also features Wi-fi, GPS, and a 2 MP camera.) And since the Agora sells for $299 AU ($192 US) and the Pro for $399 AU ($256 US), the price points are attractive.
The company website says that it accepts international orders and that both phones "will work on networks around the world, and is not restricted to customers in Australia and New Zealand." But I wouldn't jump in too fast. There's no word yet if the phones will work in the U.S., so if you're interested, you'll want to confirm compatibility with your particular carrier's network. Then, if it does, you really must, MUST report back here and tell us your thoughts about it.