Google Makes Mobile Move

There's no Gphone yet, but Google is moving into cellphones with an OS and middleware platform called Android

Michelle Donegan, Contributing Editor, Light Reading

November 5, 2007

3 Min Read
Google Makes Mobile Move

Possibly trying to take its Internet dominance to the mobile sector, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) unleashed today an open-source mobile software platform called Android and a 34-member Open Handset Alliance to support its development.

The long-awaited and much-rumored "Google Phone" was not included in the announcement, something Google executives stressed repeatedly during a press conference today. (See Google Spy: Big Team Picking Up Phone.)

Instead, Google is feeding the industry some software, which is what Unstrung has suspected for some time.

By launching such a major open-source initiative, Google has the potential to change the playing field for device operating systems. The goal is to get more applications and services to mobile devices quickly, partly by removing the barriers of proprietary software environments. (See The G-Phone Cometh, Google: Thinking Bigger Than Phones?, and G-Phone, No Strings.)

"We believe Google intends to offer mobile consumers optimized applications such as Google Search, GMail and Maps, which the company will then monetize through location-based and other mobile advertising," writes George Askew, an analyst at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. Inc. in a research note issued today.

Android -- a Linux-based platform developed by startup Android, which Google acquired in 2005 -- comprises an operating system, middleware, and key mobile applications. It also includes a full-blown HTML Web browser.

Application developers will get their first look at the Android software development kit on November 12. Handsets and services based on the platform are expected to be available in the second half of 2008.

The alliance members include phone makers High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498), LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) , Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), and Samsung Corp. ; chip firms Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) and Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM); and software vendor Wind River Systems Inc. .

Table 1: Open Handset Alliance Members

Aplix Corp.

Ascender Corp.

Audience

Broadcom Corp.

China Mobile Communications Corp.

eBay Inc.

Esmertec

Google

High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC)

Intel Corp.

KDDI Corp.

LivingImage

LG Electronics Inc.

Marvell Technology Group Ltd.

Motorola Inc.

NMS Communications Corp.

Noser

NTT DoCoMo Inc.

Nuance Communications Inc.

Nvidia Corp.

PacketVideo Corp.

Qualcomm Inc.

Samsung Corp.

SiRF Technology Inc.

SkyPop

SONiVOX

Sprint Nextel Corp.

Synaptics Inc.

The Astonishing Tribe (TAT)

Telecom Italia SpA

Telef�nica de Espa�a

Texas Instruments Inc.

T-Mobile International AG

Wind River Systems Inc.

Source: Google





Notably absent are Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) and Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications . Not surprisingly, the traditionally proprietary Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) isn't on the list either.

Mobile operator members include China Mobile Communications Corp. , KDDI Corp. , NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM), Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), T-Mobile International AG , Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF), and Telecom Italia (TIM) .

"It is interesting to note that Verizon Wireless (in which Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) owns a 45 percent stake) has so far chosen to stay on the side-lines," states Per Lindberg, research analyst at Dresdner Kleinwort . "It may suggest that the Vodafone Group harbours ambitions to control much of the content provision itself."

As for the Google phone, company officials hedged their bets but didn't definitively say whether a phone would ever happen or not.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

About the Author(s)

Michelle Donegan

Contributing Editor, Light Reading

Michelle Donegan is an independent technology writer who has covered the communications industry on both sides of the Pond for the past twenty years.

Her career began in Chicago in 1993 when Telephony magazine launched an international title, aptly named Global Telephony. Since then, she has upped sticks (as they say) to the UK and has written for various publications, including Communications Week International, Total Telecom, Light Reading, Telecom Titans and more.

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