Google tomorrow may announce what is perhaps the most highly anticipated Android smartphone ever. Google will hold a three-hour “press event” at its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters tomorrow, just ahead of this week’s annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. last week reported a leaked internal document that indicated the phone will sell for $180 at T-Mobile with a two-year contract. The unsubsidized price is rumored at right around $500.

The phone, which has been coined the “Nexus One” after a fictional character from the movie “Blade Runner,” first made headlines when Google gave the phone to employees on Dec. 11. Since then, the Web has been littered with photos and specs, as well as rumors of price and who will carry the phone.

Ross Rubin, wireless and consumer technology analyst for the NPD Group, said that this is Google’s chance to show the world its purest vision for Android.

"This may be an opportunity to experience what Google believes is the state-of-the-art in Android handsets,” Rubin said.

Additionally, Rubin said T-Mobile is a good bet for a carrier partner. “They are supporting the T-Mobile 3G AWS band, and generally we don't see handsets supporting that band unless they're being distributed via T-Mobile."

When asked about the timing of the press event, and the fact that it won’t be at CES, Rubin said it all amounts to strategy. “Google's a Silicon Valley company, and they may be taking a play from Apple's handbook. They want the focus of attention away from the crowds, and they’re hoping to get a jump on the media attention ahead of CES," he said.

Google’s search portal today features an ailing apple tree with animated apples falling off the branches to the bottom of the page. Of course, it’s Isaac Newton’s birthday, but the graphic could be perceived as a double play on the impending release of an iPhone competitor.

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