When ten or more chariots have been taken, those should be rewarded who took the first.
That's exactly what's happening here . Google and the Open Handset Alliance wants developers for a still unreleased market, and they're issuing a challenge. There's nothing brand new here, but think about it for a moment.
When the IPhone was launched, we had not even one application available and no plan for an SDK. When Android will start running, we'll already have plenty of (free) software available. High quality software, too. See the point? That's what Google wants to make evident as the difference. It has "we're Google, we're different" written all over the place.
What can we learn from this? It is indeed possible to build communities even before the actual product is released. Specs, APIs and a "low hype high facts" attitude is all you need.
I bet we'll see this happening more and more. Why? Because, as Seth Godin would say, people in such a community are enthusiasts, and esthusiasts spread the word.
Edit Italy is out of the contest. No comment. More info here