Mobile groups race to secure Google deal

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Google is in talks with all of the UK mobile operators over bringing its new Nexus One phone to Britain, but Vodafone is set to steal a march on its rivals by unveiling the phone first at an industry trade show next month.

Vodafone was the first network operator to announce it had sealed a deal to offer the Nexus One in Britain after the device's official launch at Google's Mountain View headquarters in California on Tuesday.

While no official launch date was set this week, it is understood that Vodafone is preparing to unveil the device at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which starts on 15 February. Sources close to the group, however, didn't rule out an earlier launch date.

One industry rival said: "It looks like Vodafone will lead with it, but everyone has held talks about it. It's not like the iPhone, Google wants this in as many hands as possible."

T-Mobile landed the initial deal to offer the handset to customers in the US, alongside Verizon Wireless. It is currently in talks to bring the Nexus One to the UK and a spokeswoman said the company "expects to make an announcement in the next few weeks". 3, the mobile group owned by Hutchison Whampoa, is also in talks with Google after expressing its desire to offer customers the handset.

Orange said it was "always looking to bring the best devices to its customers" but would not be drawn on talks with Google. However, it is understood the company has been in negotiations over the device.

Insiders at O2 also revealed executives had met Google. A spokesman said the company had been "following Google's announcement with interest", but added there was "no current announcement" to make about supporting the Nexus One in the UK.

None of the operators will offer the phone in their shops as Google is selling it exclusively online, with customers selecting which operator they want to support the device.

This is a move by Google to increase ad revenues, the source said. "The more clicks on its website, the more it can charge for advertising, whether via computer or mobile".