Google giving free Android phones to coders

Google is so desperate to retain people already coding for its mobile platform that it is giving away free handsets.

Emails were sent out to members of the Android development community earlier today promising anyone who had either an app rated at 3.5 starts or higher, or had achieved 5,000 downloads, a free smart phone.

We can only guess that a lot of developers who initially jumped on the Android bandwagon are disappointed in the platform's failure to make a significant dent in Apple's dominance of the App Store arena, and are now looking towards the Cupertino company to create some cash.

It could also have something to do with the fact that a lot of early developers will have older phones which aren't capable of running the new Android 2.0 operating system.

The enticing email reads:

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!

As you might expect, a lot of recipients of the unexpected email cried shenanigans, with Android developer blogs lighting up with rumours of phishing scams and hoaxes.

But as far as we can tell, it's all entirely genuine.